Third Eye Blind draws largest crowd in five years

Students at the College had the power when it came to this year’s Spring Concert. They sifted through a variety of choices and eventually voted for’90s rock band Third Eye Blind. With opener Absentstar, the quartet rocked the College’s world on April 19 in the Student Recreation Center.

According to event coordinator and College Union Board Director Alex Mazella, the crowd of more than 2,000 was by far the largest at a College concert in at least five years.

“The students picked their concert and it showed in the amount of people who came out,” Mazella said.

The show kicked off with a tricked-out version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the electric guitar courtesy of Stephen Dadaian, junior psychology major and winner of Guns N’ Roses axe-man Slash’s “Ultimate Guitar Showdown.”

Then, little-known opener Absentstar, hailing from Chicago, pumped up the crowd with a nine-song set. Vocalist Derek Ingersoll’s energy filled the room, and his band was the perfect choice to kick off the show. Their music was tight, their vocals were smooth and it was pretty impressive.

And then the moment the entire gym had been waiting all night for finally came: Third Eye Blind took the stage while playing the first song from their first album, “Losing a Whole Year.” The crowd went, to put it mildly, absolutely insane.

Since the band’s new album is slated for release in the fall, the band tested out a lot of new material. Guitarist Tony Fredianelli said of the new album, “It’s got that sort of classic rock kind of vibe to it. We’ve kind of always been at the edge. Our band was kind of the forerunners of emo music so . it’s kind (of) like a thread between emo and classic rock.”

The crowd was less than enthusiastic about the new songs at first, which could be because they revolve around a much different topic than their fans are used to – politics.

“(Vocalist Steven Jenkins) became a very big supporter of Barack Obama and hung out with him and everything, so he really got motivated on that and we’re kind of having to deal with the fallout from it,” Fredianelli said. “I think politics and music are not good bedfellows. I don’t think people want to hear what your politics are for the most part, ’cause you’ll always be alienating at least half the people, you know?”

But the crowd soon warmed to such songs as “Non Dairy Creamer” and “You’re Not Gonna Break Me,” especially since Jenkins announced before the former, “The school we played last night wouldn’t let us play this song because it was too dirty.”

That definitely got everyone excited.

Whatever school that was, it must have been a college (and an oddly clean one at that) because most of the stops on the band’s Fall tour have been colleges. But, according to Fredianelli, there’s a method to the madness: “If you’re in college, you’ve got a certain amount of intellect. You kids are able to be affected by the lyrics rather than just the music, so it’s an interesting interplay.”

A lot of the new songs are available online, and Fredianelli said, “I was kind of the one that said, ‘We’ve got to do something. We have a real fan base. We have the sort of early 2000 mentality of radio stations.’ But things like putting together the MySpace thing are just things you have to do now. There’s not record labels and all that crap. They don’t matter anymore.”

The band also played a lot of old fan favorites like “How’s It Going to Be” and “Deep Inside of You.” Practically the entire crowd screamed along to “Graduate,” and the second Jenkins said, “This is about orange cones and . driving by them,” the room exploded because “Motorcycle Drive By” is, by far, the most popular song the band has ever released.

At the end of the song, none of the members were left on the stage except Jenkins. The crowd was obviously confused, considering it was only the ninth song they’d played. But suddenly, the music started up again and a smaller stage in the back of the gym lit up.

“Those sneaky bastards,” one delighted fan yelled as the crowd flocked to the miniature stage.

“We did this for the people who always show up late for concerts. We decided to move to the back for them,” Jenkins announced with a conspiratorial smirk.

When the show was nearing its end (and the band was safely back on the main stage), the band, which was already impressive with its fancy musicianship, showcased its individual talents during an interlude inserted into “Jumper.” Both Fredianelli and bassist Leo Kremer performed sprawling solos, but it was drummer Brad Hargreaves who tore up the stage. His display of super-fast drumming definitely wowed the crowd.

The band almost brought down the house with its final song – “Semi-Charmed Life,” which was number four on the Billboard charts back in the ’90s. And with chants of “one more song” ringing in the air, the band retook the stage to play hits “Slow Motion” and “God of Wine.” One huge ovation later and they were finally exiting to the chant of “oh woah, woah” they had started.

All in all, it was a throwback to a lot of College students’ childhoods, and it was a great way to spend a hot spring night – screaming and moshing like it was 1997.