Third Eye Blind Proves '90s Nostalgia Reigns Supreme

Third Eye Blind front man Stephan Jenkins
Third Eye Blind front man Stephan Jenkins Photo by Christi Vest
Third Eye Blind
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
July 14, 2017

Nostalgia for the '90s is in full effect. Collective Soul recently played Houston. So did Everclear. Friday night at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, it was Third Eye Blind’s turn in the '90s rotation. And they didn’t disappoint.

With a crowd that far surpassed what I expected – most of the seats were filled, and the lawn wasn’t far behind – Stephan Jenkins and company delivered a 100-minute, 21-song set that brought back memories of pop-rock bands past. As is the trend recently, Third Eye Blind was there in support of the 20th anniversary of its breakout, self-titled debut.

Whereas a recent Everclear show featured the band playing a full album in its entirely, followed by some famous hits, Friday night at the Woodlands Pavilion was a bit different. Jenkins and crew elected to dive into tracks like “Wounded” and “Horror Show” before cranking up its self-titled debut. With regards to the latter, one couldn’t help but feel nostalgia for the movie Varsity Blues, which featured the song.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHRISTI VEST
Photo by Christi Vest
But the crowd was in for a treat when Jenkins and crew blew through a handful of tracks before getting into the album that made them all famous. Third Eye Blind’s self-titled album is a throwback of sorts to an era when albums mattered, when a hit single could propel a band like Third Eye Blind to Platinum status. Fortunately, Third Eye Blind was far from a one-hit wonder.

Don’t get me wrong – “Semi-Charmed Life” is about as perfect a pop-rock song as you’ll find. Hell, it’s one of the defining songs of the '90s. But to condense Third Eye Blind’s self-titled 1997 LP to one song would be unfair. The album featured hit singles like “How’s It Going to Be” and “Jumper,” not to mention “Losing a Whole Year,” the best song the band ever produced.

In speaking with Everclear front man Art Alexakis recently, he was forthright in his notion that his band is now a band designed to play hits of yesteryear while catering to people’s feelings of nostalgia. Jenkins, the spokesman of sorts for 3EB since the band came to fruition some 20-plus years ago, was less retrospective in his view of Third Eye Blind.

“This is the first time we’ve played this album start to finish, and it’s gonna be the last,” Jenkins told the crowd in attendance Friday at Woodlands Pavilion. Point being, this isn’t a front man or band that dwells in the past.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHRISTI VEST
Photo by Christi Vest
Not that Third Eye Blind needs to. The band has actually produced plenty of quality material in recent years, most notably 2011’s Ursa Major and last year’s We Are Drugs. But those who came to The Woodlands on Friday night came for the hits, and the hits they got.

After warming up the crowd with “Losing a Whole Year” and “Narcolepsy,” Third Eye Blind danced into the absolute pop-rock murderer’s row of “Semi-Charmed Life” to “Jumper” to “Graduate” to “How’s It Going to Be.” Wanna see a bunch of thirty- and fortysomething suburbanites go wild? Play those tracks consecutively.

The second half of Third Eye Blind’s debut isn’t nearly as ferocious or catchy as its first, though “The Background” and “Motorcycle Drive By” certainly carry their weight. But it was understandable that some folks began to roll out after Jenkins and crew blew through the album’s first half.

That said, those who chose to exit early missed portions of one of the seminal pop-rock records of the '90s. Third Eye Blind is an album that meant something when “Semi-Charmed Life” was still a thing. Oddly enough, in this era of '90s nostalgia, it’s an album that might mean even more today.

click to enlarge Silversun Pickups - PHOTO BY CHRISTI VEST
Silversun Pickups
Photo by Christi Vest
The Opener: Not gonna lie, wasn’t big on the Silversun Pickups in their heyday, and even now, don’t really see the appeal. That said, those who considered themselves fans of the Pickups were likely entertained by the band’s one-hour set. Again, a solid band for sure, just not one I really “got” back in the day.

The Crowd: In reviewing recent concerts, I’ve almost kept a running tally of sorts on the throwback jerseys in the house. Alas, there were none – at least none I saw – in the crowd on Friday night. On the whole, it was a fairly laid-back crowd, many of whom had to get a babysitter to enjoy a little ’90s nostalgia. If you were between 35 and 45 on Friday night, and you enjoyed ’90s pop-rock, and you weren't in the crowd, you missed out.

Overheard in the Crowd: “Third Eye Blind was way better than Matchbox 20,” said one fella in the crowd. That’s certainly up for debate, though it’s a shame the Wallflowers didn’t at least get a mention.
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Clint Hale enjoys music and writing, so that kinda works out. He likes small dogs and the Dallas Cowboys, as you can probably tell. Clint has been writing for the Houston Press since April 2016.
Contact: Clint Hale