As summer winds down and back to school items appear in stores, the end of Third Eye Blind’s Summer Gods: 25 Years in the Blind Tour is rapidly approaching. The band will have three stops in SoCal next week – including the tour finale – so we decided to catch the show in Nashville to give you a taste of what awaits you. Joining Third Eye Blind is Australian surf rock duo Hockey Dad and one of the bands appearing at the massive When We Were Young Festival in Vegas in October, Taking Back Sunday.
Despite the heat that suffocates the south in July, the outdoor venue was pretty well filled when Taking Back Sunday hit the stage and they did not let up their whole set. From their first song, “Tidal Wave,” vocalist Adam Lazzara, guitarist John Nolan, bassist Shaun Cooper, and drummer Mark O’Connell, along with touring guitarist Nathan Cogan looked like they were having an absolute blast.
Lazzara encouraged fans to move in and “get close and weird” and the devoted fans complied. While I have seen many opening bands that are successful in their own right, I can’t say I’ve seen one have such an energetic group of fans like TBS; singing, dancing, livestreams, and selfies surrounded me for their entire set.
On “Set Phasers to Stun,” Lazzara was swinging the wired mic and trading vocals with Nolan, while O’Connell pounded away, Cooper slapped the bass, and Cogan danced around. Lazzara continued to engage with the crowd multiple times and introduced their newest, “Just Us Two,” by stating, “Check out this song we wrote; it’s pretty cool.” (The collab with Steve Aoki was dropped last month).
The crowd remained into the music the whole time, especially with “You Can’t Look Back,” “You’re So Last Summer,” and the single that introduced many to them, “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)” which elicited loud screams and singing at full volume in my area.
After saying, “We are Taking Back Sunday and we hope all your dreams come true,” they finished with “MakeDamnSure.”
As the stage was being turned over for Third Eye Blind, I found myself in awe. The venue is inside a rock quarry, surrounded by trees and stone, and the TEB stage was gorgeous. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever called a rock band stage gorgeous, but here we are. Inspired by Third Eye Blind front-man Stephan Jenkins’ visit to the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale, the tree branch background was perfect for the setting. The stage included risers to make every musician visible, even the often neglected drummer. Truly, I think this is my favorite stage set up in the past two years. Also, TEB is committed to making their touring as sustainable as possible, and a portion of ticket sales supports restoration of the Palos Verdes Kelp Forest. So winning all around.
The band is celebrating their 25th anniversary and at several points in the show, Jenkins spoke about how thankful they are and how much he appreciates the fans.
Third Eye Blind made themselves known to most of us with their self-titled debut album in 1997 which featured successful single after successful single: “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Graduate,” “How’s It Going to Be,” “Losing a Whole Year,” and “Jumper.” The heavy topics were paired with alternative rock pop sound that made you forget just how deep the lyrics were. Since that amazing start, Jenkins and crew have released six additional albums including last year’s “Our Bande Apart.”
Keyboard and guitarist Colin Creev walked out first and was joined by fellow guitarist Kryz Reid and bassist Alex LeCavalier before drummer Brad Hargreaves headed up to his kit. Then the man with the magic voice appeared and they launched into “Thanks a Lot.” After they ripped through four songs, the musicians joined Hargreaves up on his portion of the riser for a finish that looked badass.
If I thought the Taking Back Sunday crowd was devoted and energetic, well, it only escalated for TEB. The venue appeared full and there were lots of singing, dancing, videoing peeps as far as the eye could see. They sang every song, but when “Never Let You Go” began…. whew. The screams erupted and the crowd took over from Jenkins to sing the chorus.
TEB continued to get through eight or nine songs before Jenkins stopped to talk to the audience. After a cover of New Order’s “Disorder” and fan favorite “Narcolepsy,” Jenkins told everyone to greet the people behind them, to the left, right, every direction. After smiles, high fives, and fist bumps, he declared, “I want to have a good fucking time!” and jumped back into the music.
There may have been a few people still sitting, but when “Graduate” began, those stragglers were up on their feet as well. The band toned it down for an acoustic vibe and Jenkins asked what people wanted to hear. “Get Me Out of Here” was the winner, and afterwards, he said it was definitely a rare song for them to play live, but joked, “We make up this shit as we go.” He then shared heartfelt thoughts about the band and the 25th anniversary. “After 25 years, you take stock, and I feel gratitude,” he said. “We feel amazed and inspired, and the inspiration comes from you guys.” Once again showing love to the early fans, Jenkins went back to the first album and played an acoustic version of “The Background.”
The band returned to the stage and rocked through “Box of Bones,” “Losing a Whole Year,” “Motorcycle Drive By,” and another lesser-played song, “Tropic Scorpio.” Once again Jenkins said they were not following the set list and “just making this up as we go along tonight.”
The energy level that was high already shot up even more with the opening notes of “Jumper.” As one of their mega hits, the crowd was busy filming, dancing, and singing their hearts out.
Joined by country pop artist Cassadee Pope, they closed with a cover of Califone’s “Funeral Singers.” But of course they were not done because this was a crowd that was not going anywhere until they got the last two biggies: “Semi-Charmed Life” and “How’s It Going to Be” were given as the encore. NOW these fans could finally say goodnight and happy anniversary to Third Eye Blind.
The Summer Gods tour will make three stops in SoCal: August 5th at the YouTube Theater in Los Angeles, August 11th in San Diego at the Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheater, and the tour closer August 13th in Irvine at FivePoint Amphitheatre.