WASHINGTON, September 4, 2012 –Third Eye Blind is one of those bands that’s undeniably associated with the ‘90s. Even if their sound isn’t necessarily linked with that decade as much as several other bands are, they reaped a massive amount of success back then and are still remembered fondly by a singularly large group of people who came of age listening to their songs. For that reason, it’s to distance them from that time period even though the shoe doesn’t always fit.
That said, however, it doesn’t seem as if anyone listening to Third Eye Blind, especially during their recent appearance at Nats Park, really wants to forget about where and when they first picked up on the band. For their part, the band is itself is a relatively uncomplicated group, with the emotions lurking behind each of their songs being easy relatable. The majority of their current fan base, the ones who still hang around, grew up listening to Third Eye Blind in their early middle school or high school years. When these long time fans hear Third Eye Blind today, it transports them back to that time when they first discovered the band. It’s kind of like good old-fashioned nostalgia, except for a younger crowd.
This is the flavor of emotion that front man Stephen Jenkins picks up with ease. During the concert, he catered to the cluster of fans standing as close as they can right beyond second base. At various points during the show he’d wave his microphone in front them trying to pick up on whatever lyrics he happened to catch from those audience members pushing up towards the front of the queue.
It was easy to see that he also has a tendency to pause during relatively dramatic moments of each song, strike something that seems like a classic rock star pose. His approach comes across as equal parts an attempt to be cool while simultaneously undercutting that cool with a knowing, satirical wink. This makes for a certain kind of awkward self-awareness to pop through when he does things like that during the show. There’s seems to be a reason for that, though.
Most of the bands that play at these Nats Live events are fairly large acts which, at one time or another, have done arena shows like this that demand fairly large crowds in order to be a success. Still, every rock band that has been in this position, like Third Eye Blind, seems to react to this environment in exactly the same way. They’re engaged in the kind of behavior that makes them stare, in considerable awe, staring at the vast expansiveness of this or any other ballpark.
Every time Jenkins would stop and pose for the audience, it was easy to see him focusing on the crowd in front of the stage and slowly glancing up at everyone in the stands. At that point, the size of his audience would seem to dawn on him, and it clearly took him a second or three to regain his bearings and continue with the show. Again, as we’ve observed, this is a rather telling gesture as Third Eye Blind is a big enough, universally recognized act that that’s played in front of large crowds before. That said, it apparently still doesn’t quite compare to the awe-inspiring vision of the multitudes of fans a performer sees when he looks up into the higher reaches of the stands.
That said, this peculiarity doesn’t detract in the least from Third Eye Blind’s performance, but instead, actually gives the show an added sense of gravitas. The best Third Eye Blind songs have an easygoing poignancy to them. It’s not earth shattering or overly revelatory. But at their best, their songs do strike some basic emotional chords. This makes sense as to why so many people end up being willing fall in step with what the band is playing.
Performing at a place like Nats Park, though, makes everything sound bigger and fuller than this band’s songs normally are. Performing songs like “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Jumper” in an expansive field where sound becomes trapped and begins to bounce around gives this band even more of an impact to those in the distant seats as well as to that intrepid group crowding in front of the stage and belting out every lyric right along with Jenkins.
It helped this time around that the rain held off for this Nats Live show, enabling the Third Eye Blind fans to assemble front and center. This clustering and crowding doesn’t affect the sound in the least in a venue like this. The sound will always carry well in this ballpark. But the atmosphere in this stadium is always better when the diehard fan base Third Eye Blind has built up over the years is able to get closer to the experience they have long remembered and still seem to crave.
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