There has to be something special about a band from the late '90s, that hasn't released a proper album in six years, to sell out the House of Blues. For the life of us, Aftermath is still trying to figure that one out. Tuesday night, Third Eye Blind roared onto the HOB stage, swaddled in darkness and their own new ominous noise. This didn't seem to be the same band that lit up modern rock radio almost a decade ago. They almost seemed like a band with something to prove - strange, in front of a crowd was treating them like returning heroes. 3EB wasn't as much stunted by changing tastes that accelerated as the millennium approached, but by its own lead singer. Stephan Jenkins gained a rep early on as a self-important prima donna who wrote serviceable power-pop. That doesn't win friends and influence people, especially while that demon is being unleashed as the record industry is in imminent free-fall. Behavior like that will get you cut like Tom Glavine.
However you feel about this band, whether you think they are Buzz runoff with a case of the jerkies, or a lost alt-rock gem of mammoth proportions, you can't deny the power of a sell-out crowd. Folks that were in the RABDARGAB program when the band's self-titled, six-times-platinumdebut hit the street in 1997 knew every damn word to these songs. Or at least they were doing a good job filling in the blanks with non-syllabic mumbling. 3EB writes songs about loveable losers who can't seem to not fuck up, an interesting parallel to Jenkins' own romantic and recording career. From new material off of the band's upcoming and unreleased Ursa Major, back to cuts off the 1999's sophomore release Blue, everyone in the amassed - and Anglo - crowd hung on every word that dripped out of Jenkins' mouth.
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"Non-Dairy Creamer", a track from last fall's Red Star EP, was an early stand-out, coming out against fakers and frauds. It seems as the years have progressed, Jenkins has started to grow despondent with how he feels he had been treated by the fluxing industry. The forlorn "Motorcycle Drive-By" got a triumphant reception . It became the most emphatic sing-along, behind the prescient "Graduate." Most people in the crowd seemed to either be tickled by the novelty of seeing 3EB in a live setting, or die-hards who may well have had the band's logo tattooed on their calf. During newish songs, the throng thinned out, only to return when they heard the opening strains of "Never Let You Go." A mid-set acoustic showcase played on a couch turned off many, but captivated the devoted. Once the band ended its first set with tag-team mega-hits "Jumper" and "Semi-Charmed Life," bar tabs were being settled and the valets downstairs were jingling keys. It seemed that the crowd didn't really want something else other than the band's biggest hit to get them through the night, and started hitting the door before the screams of "Encore" were even uttered.