Friday night saw a pair of alt-rock juggernauts join forces for a sold out Greek Theatre gig. Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World brought the singalong vibes big time.
Jimmy Eat World took the stage first on this co-headlining bill. Having last released in album in 2016 with the excellent Integrity Blues, the band leaned into a more greatest hits-type show. A third of the songs came from their breakthrough Bleed American album. “Sweetness” was the high point in terms of raw energy, the crowd shouting back each “whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh”. I was in fact mid-“whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” when I looked to my left and saw Hilary Duff and her husband “whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh”-ing.
The sun had finally set by the time they closed things out with “A Praise Chorus” and their landmark hit “The Middle”, with pretty much everyone singing each word. That’s what made this tour such a good pairing — the Venn diagram of music fans that like both Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World is basically one circle.
Whereas Jimmy Eat World has been comprised of the same four members for all but one year of their two-decade run, Third Eye Blind is more-or-less frontman Stephan Jenkins singing over a very talented karaoke band. Brad Hargreaves on drums has been the only constant dating back to the release of their iconic debut self-titled album in 1997 outside of Jenkins. Arion Salazar and especially Kevin Cadogan need to be recognized for their major contributions to 3EB’s signature melancholy lyrics paired with saccharine pop hooks sound. Neither Kryz Reid on guitar, or Alex LeCavalier on bass were with the band pre-2011, and this is guitar and keys player Colin CreeV (pronounced Cree-vee, apparently)’s first year on tour with the band. CreeV was in fact ironically introduced to the band’s following via a Facebook video that featured no sound when he answered questions. Still, all new members are competent players that maintain the spirit of the classics.
I’ve stayed intrigued by 3EB due to Jenkins’ masterful songwriting. Though he’s fired a number of misses in the past decade or so, he’s good for at least a couple catchy earworms per record. Jenkins and Co. took the stage with the singer in a hoodie. A yet unreleased track “The Kids” early in their set was hard to make out the words, but featured a political statement on the video screen, with Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg (known for her poignant words and actions on climate change). The performance wasn’t met with a ton of fanfare but carried an energetic tune.
The first memory tugger came in the form of “Never Let You Go”, which got people fully invested. The band finally visited their first record with “London” and “Graduate”, two songs that will transport kids of the ’90s into one of two scenes in the all-time great teen comedy Can’t Hardly Wait. “Wounded” was one of the Blue tunes that former guitarist Cadogan said he had to convince Jenkins of including on the record, and I’m glad he did. It’s one of the songs that lend itself to his voice best — Cadogan had a knack for writing for that unique sound.
Another high point comes in deep cut “Slow Motion” — with just Jenkins on acoustic guitar singing in his signature conversational way. It might be one of the darkest songs ever written. The sunnier but still sad “Motorcycle Drive By” is positioned nicely as the next song, considering it has the same kind of rambling beauty as “Slow Motion”. It was another song everyone knew the words to.
“Bonfire” is one of the best 3EB songs written in the post-Blue era. “Crystal Baller” was another one of those that made an appearance. By this time Jenkins had shed the hoodie, and later closed the set with “How’s It Going to Be”. They returned for a four-song encore that began with “Losing a Whole Year”. The one-two punch of “Semi-Charmed Life” and “God of Wine” finished off the show. In one of the rare Greek Theatre occurrences, I didn’t see anyone bail before the last song.
I’ll always maintain interest in whatever Stephan Jenkins is up to. I think he’s still a great songwriter — and in fact I’d love to see him do more work just in that role, maybe for other artists. And one thing he certainly still knows how to do is deliver a helluva live show.