Friday, March 24, 2000

Crowd blind to Third Eye's faults




BY CHRIS VARIAS
Enquirer contributor

        About two years ago Third Eye Blind, riding the crest of their successful self-titled debut album, played to a hyper and happy crowd of teens and young adults at the Taft Theatre.

        It was a case of deja vu at its most unkind as the bland alterno-pop hit-makers returned to the place of their past triumph for an 11/2-hour, 20-song show Wednesday night.

        In the fickle climate created by today's radio programmers, many bands of Third Eye Blind's ilk have made an album and then mercifully disappeared. But it seems this group isn't going anywhere soon.

        The show was a balance of material from Third Eye Blind and Blue, the band's latest album. No new song was as catchy as the hits the band performed from the debut, namely “Semi Charmed Life,” “Jumper,” “How's It Going to Be” and “Graduate.”

        So there's something keeping the band in continued favor. More likely, it's a number of things.

        First off, those aforementioned hits have legs, and they were by far the highlights of the show.

        The new stuff, while not as catchy, was infused with the band's distinguishable — if not unique — sound, best defined by lead singer Stephan Jenkins' Spin Doctors-style, scat-like approach to vocals.

        Even more appealing to the audience, at least a faction of it, was Mr. Jenkins himself and his black leather pants. He's a world-class ham for whom the girls in the crowd swooned, and the synergy between his shtick and their squeals spiraled upward as the night went on.

        It didn't seem to matter the act was as derivative and mindless as the band's music. It's hard to say which element of his routine was the dullest: the gratuitous f-bombs; the Axl Rose impersonation; the phony-British-accent utterances; the “Bohemian Rhapsody” bit; the trip up to the private box at stage right, where he sang “Losing a Whole Year.”

        But it all worked with the crowd, just like every last song, including a new one called “An Ode to Maybe” with a central riff indebted to Led Zeppelin's “Dancing Days.”

        Stealing from Zep is something high school bands, and the Stone Temple Pilots, do. Maybe Third Eye Blind has nothing left in the tank, and they dodged the sophomore slump but won't be so lucky the next time out. Then again, maybe all this band needs is for its singer to fit into those pants and swear into the microphone.

       



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