I don’t think I will ever go to another Third Eye Blind concert. Not because the night I spent in Chicago listening to them was a bad experience mind you, it was exactly the opposite actually. The few hours I spent soaking up the Lake Michigan breeze and absorbing the heat from the others in the crowd were magical, in the way only music in the summer can be. The reason I can’t see myself attending another show is because I simply won’t have anything to offer in return the way I did that night.
I’ve had the not so unique experience of originally coming to Third Eye Blind’s music when I was far too young and ill-equipped to really understand what was being sang to me. All I knew back then when that first album hit was it sounded really cool and I liked to sing along to Losing A Whole Year because I thought Aqua Lube was a cool way to say water. This of course later transformed into a general understanding of the themes and ideas, but I still lacked the personal context. (most of this I’ve already gone into here)
I don’t often brag about myself, but there’s one thing I am proud about: as my life rolled on and on I never really gave up on Third Eye Blind. They never slipped away from me. Sure other bands came along that dominated my CD player and the burned discs I made for teenage romances rarely included Stephen Jenkins’ voice. Yet, those songs I didn’t understand as a child were never far from me. The one thing though that always eluded me was seeing them performed live. Somehow those tours and my path through the hazes and voids of life never intersected, until a pleasant Thursday night of all times.
I won’t lie, I was terrified when they first hit the stage. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to comprehend anything if the show wasn’t good. I even entertained the idea of just leaving early, the two openers (Ocean Park Standoff and Silversun Pickups) had already justified the price of the ticket. I could just slip away into the city, content with the show in my head. I’m still unsure of whether it was some bastardized version of courage that kept me in my place or the mob that stood between the exit and me.
The expectations I had were all over the place by the time Stephen Jenkins announced that they’d be playing that first album, the one I had bought three times over and had memorized ten times over, front to back. What did happen though was something I was simply unprepared for. By the time Narcolepsy was finished, I was no longer in Chicago, I was staring up at the ceiling of my dorm room sleepless and shivering due to broken heater. When the 2nd verse of Semi Charmed Life came around, I was smoking a cigarette outside a bar hearing about a childhood friend not making it through an OD. When I realized How’s It Going to Be was coming next I remembered the first time I realized I hadn’t thought about my first real love’s name in months. And when The Background was halfway through I was torn into a dozen pieces, each one landing where someone mentioned how awesome it used to be hanging with me and that girl who I think about daily. And of course, that damn staircase in Boston was waiting for Motorcycle Drive-by to remind me of the final moments from that perfect week.
When God Of Wine hit it’s final notes I was back in Chicago, yet not quite inside, but above. Somewhere between the buildings and the lakefront and all the lights there’s a different dimension, one of understanding. And what I realized there was that I had the context, I had everything I needed to finally understand those songs. Also, I think I also realized that I already knew this, because through the whole show everyone around me were singing every word, and god damn did I sing too. I joined that chorus right from the beginning. Yet it wasn’t music I was trying to create with my voice, it was an exorcism. I had held onto all these moments for so long, or at least long enough, desperate to try and make them into something.
In the end, there was really nothing I could really do with those memories except give them up. Offer them up to the summer, the city, the music, the crowd, and night. It seemed fitting, seeing they’re the closest things to magic I ever believed in.