When: Tue., June 9, 7 p.m. 2015
THIRD EYE BLIND & DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL/TRAIN
TUESDAY, JUNE 9/WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10
RED HAT AMPHITHEATER/WALNUT CREEK AMPHITHEATRE, RALEIGH—The most surprising thing about "Everything is Easy," the new single from Third Eye Blind, is not that the makers of "Semi-Charmed Life" still exist or that they are making new music or that they are touring. It's that the song, against almost all odds, doesn't suck. It's racing and romantic, conjuring the closed-eye vibes of early album cuts like "London" with a smart sense of atmosphere that suggests frontman Stephan Jenkins has been listening to new rock music. Maybe The War on Drugs, maybe The National? Anyway, it works and offers a sign of life for a band once left for dead.
The last two decades have not been kind to San Francisco's Jenkins, 50, and the revolving door of personnel he continues to call the same band. Members have come and gone, as have Jenkins' celebrity romances. The music, however, has emerged at a trickle, with only three Third Eye Blind albums arriving since that 1997 breakthrough. That has sealed the band's slot as a punchline at worst and a nostalgia phantom at best, the sort of thing you sing along with at a party of old pals and then laugh about when the record ends. Last year, when Smash Mouth's Steve Harwell announced from a festival stage that "Third Eye Blind can suck my dick," you felt bad for both of them: Why did they still exist? Why, in their advanced age, did they still behave like children?
But now, just ahead of the release of their fifth album, there's a legitimate reason to be excited about Third Eye Blind, even if it's only 270 seconds of sound. Still, aside from an ostensibly good payday, Jenkins does himself no favors by touring with Dashboard Confessional, the strum-and-shout project of Chris Carrabba, as he continues to pillage the recent emo revival for more cash. He's already reunited his old band, Further Seems Forever, and reissued Dashboard's popular The Swiss Army Romance, despite having not released new music with either project in years. In that context, where nostalgia seems as central to the ticket sales as newness, it's hard to take Third Eye Blind's recent moves as little more than one more cash-in attempt, even if "Everything is Easy" is hard to hate.
Strangely, Jenkins would do well to heed the example of Train's Pat Monahan, another survivor of the late '90s radio boom. Train long ago bought into commercial ambitions, so that their beginnings as a rock band have yielded to the trappings of sub-symphonic schlock. It's all as gross as "Drops of Jupiter," sure, but the night after Dashboard Confessional and Third Eye Blind share Red Hat, Train takes Walnut Creek with minor players The Fray and Matt Nathanson. Third Eye Blind & Dashboard Confessional: 7 p.m., $27.50–$49.50, Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, 919-996-8800, www.redhatamphitheater.com. Train: 7 p.m., $25–$79.50, Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, 3801 Rock Quarry Rd., Raleigh, 919-719-5500, www.livenation.com/venues/14476/walnut-creek-amphitheatre. —Grayson Haver Currin