Tornado sirens are not quite the way one wants to start a rock concert, but on Monday, July 6th at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri that is exactly how Third Eye Blind’s triumphant return to the City of Fountains began. A series of storms rolled through the area just half an hour before the doors were set to open, setting off tornado sirens across the city and setting the stage for a night that was anything but ordinary.
Call it semi-charmed, if you will.
On June 16th, Third Eye Blind released their fifth (and reportedly final) album, Dopamine, after a six-year absence. For a band that hadn’t charted a major hit since 2003’s “Blinded” and is probably best known for 1997’s “Semi-Charmed Life,” that length of time between albums would seem like a final nail in a slowly built coffin, but the crowd at the Uptown clearly indicated otherwise. Tornado be cursed, 2,200 fans crowded the Uptown to watch the co-headlining show with Dashboard Confessional.
For a show that many were calling “nostalgia” it was far more alive than a bunch of aging cool kids trying to relive their youth to the soundtracks of a better time. Sure, there were people there looking to grasp onto something lost, but it was a diverse crowd with young fans of both bands as well as long-time devotees (including a group of die-hard Third Eye Blind fans who call themselves the Misfits) alike. Special guest band, Augustana got the crowd warmed up with a series of hauntingly beautiful songs before Chris Carrabba got the crowd whipped into an electric frenzy with his band, Dashboard Confessional. One would have thought that the crowd was there solely for Dashboard with the life that surged through the fans. Throughout the 70 minute set that served as a charged trip through musical memory concertgoers sang along with Carrabba’s every word. Carrabba, who even brought Third Eye Blind’s keyboardist Alex Kopp on stage for “Vindicated,” declared it the best night of the tour thus far.
That sentiment carried forward as Third Eye Blind took the stage, kicking off their 90 minute set with a high-energy and screaming version of “Graduate” that bled almost seamlessly into a tingling version of “Red Star” before veering back to hits off of their 1999 album, Blue. If Chris Carrabba was taking the crowd on a trip through musical memory then a hoodie-cloaked and richly deviant Stephan Jenkins was bent on dragging them all over the map, using songs of the past to blast a way into the present. There were two things that Jenkins declared as the smoke cleared and the amped up crowd braced for the night: that Kansas City had taken his tornado warning virginity that night and that the band was going to play some old songs, and definitely going to rock some new songs.
Jenkins kept his word, pumping into a well-constructed cast of songs four soon-to-be hits off the new album. The crowd didn’t miss a beat, singing along as the current incarnation of Third Eye Blind (comprised of Alex Kopp, Kryz Reid, Brad Hargreaves, Alex LeCavalier, and Jenkins,) belted out the first single off of Dopamine, “Everything is Easy.” There was only one time in the entirety of the show that the vocal crowd fell near-silent: when the band played their cover of Beyonce’s “Mine”. But the quiet wasn’t an indication of something wrong. Third Eye Blind may have been away for some years, but Jenkins still knew how to work the crowd. The band rolled from the bright and delicate, to peppy veneers over dark songs. Jenkins himself played into the mood, declaring playfully that he’d done some interesting things there in the venue. Things more interesting than a tornado warning and subsequent flash flooding, no doubt.
Overall, the crowd that had faced threat of a natural disaster were rewarded for their efforts with a top-notch show. Old songs, new songs, witty banter, and one of the best drum solos ever from the excellent Brad Hargreaves…Third Eye Blind proved that a band who burst on the scene in 1997 was anything but nostalgia. They still have it and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.