October 3, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 42°F


Review: ’90s band turns blind eye to hits in concert

Third Eye Blind

Cornell University

For the sold-out crowd of nearly 5,000 people at Cornell University’s Homecoming Concert on Sept. 21, the night was simply a reminder that not all childhood dreams translate into reality. Concertgoers expecting to see Third Eye Blind, which “rocked” the top-40 charts of the ’90s, might have been disappointed to discover the mediocrity of the band’s live performance.

Kicking off the night was the newcomer indie-pop trio, Basic Vacation, which just finished a leg of tour dates with Owl City. While an opening act was never advertised, the band was greeted warmly upon declaring the audience “one of the best-looking and biggest” it had experienced. After a quick set list, including a sped-up, guitar-driven cover of the Tears for Fears’ ’80s hit, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” the band shimmied off the stage, leaving the crowd dancing with anticipation.

Sure enough, following a 40-minute stage layover and repeated chants of the band’s name, the lights dimmed once more, this time to allow Third Eye Blind to emerge to a roar of screams and cheers. But when the band began playing the opening chords to its lesser-known and falsetto-riddled track, “Narcolepsy,” the crowd grew silent and began to mumble to one another. To make matters worse, the audio mix was poor, with the drums overpowering the rest of the band, making popular hits like “Never Let You Go” and “Graduate,” which usually feature distinguished electronic-rock swing intros, unrecognizable when they came around.

Audience members weren’t the only ones lost in translation. The band seemed unsure of itself and what type of performance to give. While excitement peaked in the crowd as Third Eye Blind indulged in its well-worn hits, slower and more serious songs constituted half of the set list, bringing the energy down tremendously. The band even pulled out an acoustic version of its infamously controversial song, “Slow Motion,” which discusses violence and drug use.

“This song used to be banned,” explained the band’s lead singer, Stephan Jenkins. “Record companies used to have this power to tell you what you can and cannot do. Now things have changed.”

Throughout the show, it seemed as though the band members were losing touch with the audience. Offers to play new material from its upcoming and final album were met with a resounding wave of objections from the crowd, requesting for the band to stick to the hits. Jenkins, however, ignored the negative feedback, insisting this is really what the crowd wanted, “because it’s college and you like to try new things and experiment.”

The band then began to play “Sherry Is a Stoner,” a track created in effort to embarrass the band’s tour manager and his wife. If it were not for the title alone, the lack of serious depth or originality in the song would be enough to do the trick. To make matters worse, the band attempted to mask its hackneyed sound with over-the-top falsettos that Jenkins just couldn’t seem to hit and odd transitional “do, do, do” vocals in between the bridge and chorus of the song.

The show ended with the fading, military-like drum beat and distorted bass line on the band’s emotional and mid-tempo ballad, “Jumper.” The song was one of the most captivating of the night as Jenkins and the audience joined forces to sing out the track’s somber chorus in unison: “I wish you would step back from the ledge my friend/ You could cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been living in.”

The band briefly returned for an encore of “God of Wine” and its first hit single back from the 1997 album “Semi-Charmed Life.” Although the band gave the audience what it demanded in its encore, the last two songs were played with low energy and enthusiasm. The band departed the stage without the booming applause and cheers it had enjoyed only a few minutes earlier.

Undoubtedly, most of the attendees had come to the concert in hopes of revisiting the youthful spirit and nostalgia of their middle-school days, not to witness a series of middle-aged men sing about drug-riddled nights and stumble across a stage. The crowd needed more energy and liveliness to get them through the semi-charmed concert.

Overall rating: Two out of four stars