Third Eye Blind

support The Upwelling
author TL date 11/05/10 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Ever since my early days of listening to rock music, Third Eye Blind has been a band I've known about, yet unusually for me, not because I fell in love with an album or two of theirs. Rather I have been noticing individual songs by the band here and there, all adding to my perception of them being quite cool, as a direct effect of their adding of disturbing lyrics to radio-friendly pop songs. Their first ever visit to Denmark (and in fact Europe all together) marked a welcome opportunity to finally check the band, and hence my presense in Pumpehuset tonight, a venue that seems small compared to the goodwill I know the band enjoys stateside and also considering their almost omnipresence on the soundtracks of feel-good movies. It's not empty, but it's also far from full, and it seems that a good handful of people here are actually American? Maybe that's just a symptom of what I said before about the band's fame in the states, regardless, before we even get to their show, there's the matter of their support band.

The Upwelling

As far as I had been able to gather in advance, no support band was announced anywhere for this show, hence I had no chance to check out The Upwelling prior to the show, and their coming on stage is hence the first time I even become aware of their existence. Their line-up is that of a power trio, with brother's Ari and Joshua Ingber on drums and their friend Mike Mulieri on bass. Their band quickly reveals itself as rock meant for bigger stages than this, both via the sound of the music, which calls bands like Coldplay, The Gaslight Anthem, Kings Of Leon (etc. etc.) to mind at various moments, and also via frontman Ari's attitude. Seemingly hellbent not to be bothered with the rather humble amount of people that have yet arrived, Ari makes damn sure that every chord or note he plays, is accompanied with a classic move or pose from the rock'n'roll bible, and between songs, he pulls out every dusty rock-show cliché to charm the audience ("the Danish girls are the prettiest in the word, yada yada yada"). The reception is mostly restrained to polite applauses, which one understands, because not only does the whole rock star act seem a bit forced by such an unknown support band, but it's also hard to get a feel of the band's soundscape, what with the drums and the vocals dominating everything else in the mix. For a while I'm thinking of giving the band a 6, but then they do one thing that makes me smile, namely incorporating the lyrics to "Fresh Prince Of Bel Air" in one of their songs, however, the positive spark is put out again, when a song is played that sounds so much like Kings Of Leon's "Sex On Fire" that I swear you can sing that song on top of it with little to no alteration. It's forthcoming and easily enjoyable alright, but some more originality and situational awareness wouldn't be unwelcome.


Third Eye Blind

After The Upwelling take off, Third Eye Blind's stage crew take their sweet time getting the sound into "headliner mode", and when at last the band arrives, I immediately get a weird feeling about it for two reasons. The least of the two is that they open by playing a lengthy instrumental intro, which ends abruptly and has no connection to the first actual song, hence seeming somewhat pointless, unless it was just an excuse to make final adjustments to the mixing board. The thing however that surprises me the most, is how, shall we say 'unkind' the years have been to Stephen Jenkins, the band's frontman, whose appearance seems like he just rolled out of his bunk five minutes ago, pulled the dullest clothes he could find out of his bag and reassured himself, that not having time for the gym for the 2000th day in a row wasn't such a bad thing. Okay, I am exaggerating, and of course, everything is not about looks, but my point is, that for the first couple of songs - with which I am unfamiliar - I can't help but to wonder how little Jenkins looks like a rock star, compared to the hired guns beside him (Drummer Brad Hargreaves and him are the only remaining original members of the band). Thankfully, the more Jenkins sings, the more my attention returns to the music, because by and large, his voice still sounds exactly like the raspy youngster with an attitude you imagine him as, listening to the band's records.

And before I notice it, I'm witnessing somewhat of a hit-parade, with Third Eye Blind casually strolling through songs old and (often) new, harvesting exhilarated and constistent singalongs from large parts of the crowd in the process. I recognise "Losing A Whole Year" and "Graduate" as well as a few songs from the new album that I reviewed a while ago, and all the while, the crowd is singing along and Jenkins is moving and singing like he is still in People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" list. The sound is also good, and overall, the show shapes up pretty well. My personal favourite "Slow Motion" get's the solo acoustic treatment from Jenkins and shines alright, but of course it is the encore songs, and especially "Semi-Charmed Life" that naturally gets the most people off their feet and screaming off the top of their lungs. The show even gets a special little feeling added to it, through Jenkins' admission that this is not only the band's first ever show in Denmark, it is also the smallest show he can remember playing for the last eight years, and still he ensures us he likes playing here enough to want to come back soon. I won't be the one to say if he's sincere or not, but if not he at least makes it seem like it. Still though, while overall the show is solid and played with much experience, I am a little tiny bit disappointed with it as I leave it. First of all because at all other moments than the one I just described, it had the feel of a very routine performance, with Jenkins' crowd interaction being kept scarce and closer to an "almost-too-laid-back" -feeling than to "really-excited-to-play-here!". Secondly, Third Eye Blind's best songs are, as far as I'm concerned, their slower ones, and by seemingly choosing more bouncy and noisy songs over omitted cuts like "Narcolepsy" or "Deep Inside Of You", it seems like the band is playing too much of something that isn't their greatest asset. Most of all though, even if you disagree with these things, there will still be the feeling that with Pumpehuset only being half full, this show was a really small-time one for 3EB. Imagine what it would've been like with an arena singing along and Jenkins in his prime.. A shame Europe never got treated to that.

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