What Was I Thinking When I Went To That Third Eye Blind Concert?

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I'm pretty sure my only excuse was my age and the suffocation of suburban life, but in junior high, I LOVED Third Eye Blind. I mean, I liked "cool" bands as well, like, uh, Nirvana and L7 (courtesy of my dear ol' dad), but that self-titled 3EB record pretty much stayed in my little mini-boombox for at least three months straight.

So when I found out they were going to be here! in Reno! My pukey hometown, where music careers go to die! I knew I HAD to go to that concert. And after some seriously degrading pleading and wheedling, my mom finally decided that twelve was old enough for a responsible, straight-A-having nerd like myself to go to a concert with friends sans parental supervision. Even if the name of the band we wanted to see happened to be Third Eye Blind. Come to think of it, I'm still not sure if she ever put that one together, but if she let us go alone to see a band whose name referenced penises, it probably had something to do with the venue: the Reno Pioneer Center, a place I frequented with my mother, who loved opera and was attempting to cultivate an appreciation of the art form in me. But back then, Reno's dearth of cultural activities or any recognizable music scene meant that touring mid-sized artists who might've had a radio hit or two, but weren't big enough to fill the Livestock Arena, usually had to perform in this totally inappropriate venue. I mean, the place had red velvet seat covers and a curtain of the same material. I can't imagine why whoever booked their events felt it was wise to entrust such a gorgeous theater to a bunch of drunk dudebros who would likely puke all over its plush interior. A couple of them tried to steal our seats, and succeeded, even though we tried to stonewall them with pre-pubescent Evil Eyes. It didn't work.

read on after the jump, in which I destroy any semblance of Indie Cred I ever possessed. Eat yer heart out, Seely!

Now, here's where I'm supposed to tell you how crappy I now think Third Eye Blind is, and that even though I was REALLY into the band at the time, that I discarded that shit six months later right along with my fugly Disney apparel (God, I had SO MANY Mickey sweatshirts) and monstrous cowlick. Except that, uh, I don't. Hate Third Eye Blind, that is. I defend that self-titled album as a super-catchy pop album that fits in perfectly with its mid-'90s adult alternative "rock" peers.

But more importantly, I will continue to defend Third Eye Blind because seeing the band live made me realize that all the symphonies and operas and string quartets my mom had been dragging me to since I was old enough to read subtitles didn't do it for me, yet when I heard Stephan Jenkins sing "How's It Gonna Be?" I got goosebumps from live music for the first time in my life. Embarrassing, but true. And on the rare occasions when I hear that song, or "Semi-Charmed Life," etc. on mainstream "adult contemporary" radio in dentists' offices or other such locations, I think of my diminutive self standing there in jean shorts and a tee-shirt that likely came from Limited Too, getting choked up and singing along-- because to me, at that time, that song was as beautiful as Neko Case singing "Bought and Sold" (or the ABCs, for that matter) is to me now.

See, back then my parents were caught in the throes of a nasty divorce, and my mom had recently started dating this colossal d-bag who gave me a book of etiquette for my birthday. I shit you not. And although I could not relate to Carmen's pain when my mom dragged me to that particular opera six months previous at the very same location, my prepubescent self could relate to Stephan Jenkins. When ol' Stephan-with-an-A sang, "the four right chords could make me cry," I understood then that great music is not necessarily about how complicated it is to play, or how sophisticated or hip you will look if the right people notice you listening to it. It's about how the music makes you feel. A song can be so technically complex that only ten people in the world can play it, but if it doesn't evoke any emotion when you see it performed live, you might as well be listening to a two-year-old banging on pots and pans. And when Stephan Jenkins and company sang the chorus to "How's It Gonna Be" in harmony, I finally understood the expression I'd see on my mother's face when we went to see an opera, or maybe the Reno Philharmonic playing some boring Baroque-period thing. She was completely enraptured; I fidgeted in an itchy crushed velvet dress, dying of boredom.

Now I'm 23, I still hate the Baroque period, and opera still bores me no matter how hard I strain to get some culture already and appreciate it (here comes the disdain in three...two...one....HATE!). And not long after seeing Third Eye Blind, once I turned 13, got out of junior high and officially joined the ranks of the Teenagers, I dyed my hair fire-engine red, started going to punk shows at the VFW Hall and pretended that I never liked such a shamefully uncool band as Third Eye Blind. But now I can admit it: I did like that band. In fact, I loved them. And in a part of me, the perpetually-twelve-year-old part that still howls at fart jokes and would wear tie-dye and knows all the words to Alanis Morisette's songs, I still do.

 
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