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Third Eye Blind Hits the Road with
"Dragons & Astronauts"
Backstage Pass Special by Debbie Seagle

Joining me on the Rock N World tour bus today is a new passenger, my cohort from Rock N World's sister web site antiMUSIC - antiGUY.  Now that my guitar and other valuables are safely locked away in my bunk and I have hidden all the decent snack foods, magazine and toilet paper for my own consumption later, I sit patiently, waiting for the next stop . . .   As antiGUY mumbles and franticly rummages through the cupboards underneath the sofa, our driver takes us to the deepest, darkest concrete jungles of Los Angeles - a buffet of music genres and styles.  Today we are going to sample the menu on Third Eye Blind's "Dragons & Astronauts" tour.  Later, I will be taking you behind the scenes to meet one of the cooks, ah, band members, Arion Salazar. 

The last place on earth I want to be on a Friday night is at a show for a band best known for singing songs with "doot doot doot" as the most memorable line. The only reason I agreed to Debbie's request to tag along with her was the fact that Tonic, one of my favorite rock bands, is opening the show. Since I had never seen Tonic live before and Debbie takes every opportunity to remind me she has, I thought what the heck, I can put up with 90 minutes of music from a chick band. 

I haven't eaten all day, Debbie hid all the junk food, and the only place to eat near the venue is Denny's.  Debbie, tell me where those oreos are damn it!
The Album

Yes, well, we were very glad to talk with old friends Tonic and their set was killer, as usual. But what I was really interested in was seeing Third Eye Blind, whose new CD "Blue" has just been certified platinum and whose recent separation from lead guitarist and co-song writer Kevin Cadogan caused them to remain in the music headlines for weeks.  Since I have to say that I really enjoyed Blue, and find it rocks harder and tighter than their first, self titled CD, I wondered if Third Eye Blind would sound the same without their guitarist, or if their stage performance had suffered because of the change. 

Is antiGUY allowed to be wrong? You guys decide. I will tell you I was dead wrong about 3EB. I never gave them a chance before because I figured they were one step removed from Chumbawumba or Hootie and the Blow Fish. Much to my surprise once I gave "Blue" an honest listen I had to admit these guys do write some damn good music and they are not just another superficial pop band filling the billboard charts with chick music. 

The Concert:
In short, Third Eye Blind's live performance went beyond the solid rock tunes of the Blue CD.  The band added a dimension (or two) to the digital version of their music on the CD by adding the elements of light, color and movement - lots of movement!  If Alice were to step through the looking glass into the Rock N World, I imagine she would see something like this.  Stages draped in cloth and jungle vines, giant dragons with glowing red eyes and a monstrous lighting rig, hung from the ceiling in a round carousel that lowered and tilted to mimic the landing scene in the movie Close Encounters. Most of the time the stage was lit in continuously changing patterns of purple and blue with stark white light beaming through the pieces of Brad Hargreaves' drum kit and shooting up from below the risers when ever the band would stand on one of them, creating a dramatic silhouette effect. 

And what would Wonderland be like without a Mad Hatter?  Enter Stephan Jenkins, lead singer and snappy dresser, singing "Losing a Whole Year" while hanging over the balcony of this old art deco theatre in his tuxedo t-shirt and top hat!  He struts, he runs, jumps, uses the mic stand as a pretend machine gun and chats amiably with the audience like he was throwing a party for several thousand neighbors and friends.  As he felt encouraged by the audience reactions he fed their attentions with quips like "People want to know if we've changed.  I know, you're saying 'You guys haven't changed, you're still dirty, dirty, filthy, filthy pigs!'" 

The set list was a good mix of tunes from both of their CDs and included favorites like "Graduate," "Never Let You Go," their upcoming single "10 Days Late," "Semi-Charmed Life" and "Jumper," which I understand is actually being used in a teen suicide prevention program that is being piloted in high schools across the USA.  Also performed were three songs off the new CD that I found to be instant stand outs.  "Wounded," is a song which possesses an interesting combination of tempos and hooks, an almost anthemic feel at times, and showcases an outstanding vocal range on Stephan's part.  "Deep Inside of You" is a ballad that Jenkins described as a "great big bummer of a song," but it is a credit to the song's lyrics when its story unfolds and you see the meaning of the title change from literal to figurative as the teller's heart breaks.  Lest we get depressed (everyone needs a sad song now and then), the third song I picked as a stand out is "1000 Julys."  I predict that teen guitar star wannabes will be practicing its catching power chords over and over again.  I know I transcribed them the next day and ripped them off a few times, just for fun.  As a matter of fact, I believe I even saw antiGUY tapping his foot during this song.  Of course, he still had his arms folded in front of his chest, trying hard not to let on that he was getting into their groove.


All photos taken by Debbie Seagle - Copyright © 2000 Grove Quest Productions. All rights reserved. 


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