Stephan Jenkins - vocals, guitar; Brad Hargreaves - drums; Arion Salazar - bass; Kevin Cadogan - guitar
If you were living in the Bay Area during the dotcom boom, you would've thought that Stephan Jenkins and Third Eye Blind were the Second Coming. However on this night in 1996 at what was dubbed the Fillmore Sessions, 3eb were still barely a twinkle in the eyes of the masses who embraced their 1997 self-titled debut, placed it on the charts, and bought copies of it in excess of five million. Seriously.
Third Eye Blind were active primarily in the '90s and the early part of the 00's; their 2009 comeback album Ursa Minor disappeared mostly without a trace, though they remain together and are still giving it a go. Most of this set from the ultimate arena-rock-band-on-the-verge is pretty much by-the-numbers arena rock stuff, though there are some slight peaks and valleys of acoustic dynamics on display and some budding showmanship on the part of Jenkins.
Inspired by the rap and metal fusion of Bay Area brethren Faith No More and the pop sensibilities of their successful regional contemporaries, Smash Mouth, 3eb transmit '90s angst with a party atmosphere, exemplified by their most successful single, "Semi-Charmed Life." But generally, 3eb relies on a lava-like steady flow of crashes and crescendos rather than the moodier sounds of ebbing tides: They are all about the high drama rock 'n' roll, like "Losing a Whole Year" (which would become their debut album's opening track) which rocks the set early, while the slightly erratic "The Burning Man" helps wind it down.
Riding the wave of crowd control, Jenkins keeps it real simple when he asks the crowd, "Is it good for you?" while they respond with an audible thumbs-up. Also in the tradition of "it's rock'n'roll, not rocket science," he asks, "Do you want to hear a fast song or slow song?" then immediately rewards them with a rocker: "I Want a New Girlfriend" is carved from an old wave punk blueprint.
Jenkins introduces the last number here, "The Background," as a moody song about "all the sad times in the Lower Haight—there's been a few of them my friend," and sadly there would be more downbeat moments in 3eb's future… When the dotcom boom finally bombed, the party was over and 3eb went underground while their fans and followers packed their bags and returned to whatever burgs they'd come from. This concert captures the Bay Area's innocence, its romance, the money, the parties, and the fun before the crash. Good times my friends—or as 3eb might say, it's a "Semi-Charmed Life."