LIVE REVIEW: Third Eye Blind, Hoodie Allen kick off Central Michigan’s homecoming with a bang

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Third Eye Blind. To many music-lovers, particularly those whose fixation revolves around the 1990s, these three simple words, when placed together just so, can drive even the most emotionally stable into a frenzy of internal excitement.

And frankly, there’s a reason for that. Since 1993, the San Francisco quintet has found a niche in the hearts of many. Whether its through their devoted legion of followers who’ve stayed with the band for the better part of two decades, or those who were casually drawn in by the sweet, rhythmic hooks of monster hits like “Semi-Charmed Life” or “Never Let You Go,” Third Eye Blind naturally found their place among pop-rock royalty, never flinching or backing down from the impressive title.

They emerged into the major label scene in 1997, offering a self-titled debut so ear-grabbingly catchy, so thematically strong, so melodically rich and so piercingly effective, it was only a matter of time before the masses began to love them. It didn’t end there, however, as the act, though losing and gaining new members along the way, would continue to impress over the next 18 years creating four other robust, engaging pieces of work to their name, slowly but surely gathering more and more fans along the way.

Fully understanding the impact that Third Eye Blind has had on so many made me all the more excited to see them play a show, as well as a venue, that I held so dear to my heart: Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Growing up only 10 minutes south of the college, I’ve built a solid foundation of memories and close friendships on the campus of CMU. Naturally, when I heard that Third Eye Blind would be performing at the university’s annual homecoming concert, I leapt at the opportunity to see their set.

The night approached quickly, as I made the brisk trek home from Saginaw, where I currently attend school. After dropping my backpack, laundry and other oddities off at my parents’ house in Alma, I got back in my car to meet up with my friends, soon after heading over to the show. We arrived later that evening at McGurik Arena—a venue I’d been in a few times prior, for Chippewa basketball games, as well as other Homecoming concert celebrations (the All-American Rejects and LMFAO come to mind).

I settled into the diverse, sporadically spaced main floor and quickly after, opener Hoodie Allen took to the stage. When the lineup was first announced back in August, I remembered scratching my head seeing the two artists on the bill together, but at the same time, went into the show optimistic and excited to possibly discover a new act— which I happily did.

The Manhattan-based rapper fired through a riveting 45-minute set before Third Eye Blind took the stage. Backed with a full band behind him (which I was happy to see included former Sing It Loud vocalist Pat Brown), the artist played an eclectic, exciting set, mostly filled with tracks off his 2014 album People Keep Talking. Tracks like “Show Me What You’re Made Of,” “Movie” and “Dumb For You” translated exceptionally well through both the live setting and with full band accompaniment. Beats blared, lyrics were spit, cake flew, fans jumped and newbies lovingly nodded along. Needless to say, fun was had by all during his set.

Fifteen minutes after completion, as well a spirited performance from the cheerleading team with fully automatic T-shirt guns (college, man), Third Eye Blind took the stage to a frenzied reaction.

Immediately kicking in with “Graduate” and “Wounded,” the band furiously chugged through early technical difficulties and some vocal strain without skipping a beat. While the show started off on a strong note, it wasn’t until halfway through “Never Let You Go” that the band-audience connection began to take hold. With vocalist Stephen Jenkins making banter with the student body—current Chippewa and alums alike—the crowd was able to grow closer together and fully appreciate the set even more.

Third Eye Blind’s set mainly comprised of selections from their stellar new record Dopamine, but also made sure to take the time out to take requests given to them before the show, including fan favorites like “How’s It Going To Be” and “Motorcycle Drive-By,” both started by Jenkins on solo duty, but both later turning into full-band jams. By the time the set finally concluded with “Jumper” and “Semi-Charmed Life,” the crowd unleashed their pent-up excitement to the bouncy, spirited hits, with one lucky concertgoer crowd surfing and finding his way onstage, only to jump back in at the earliest opportunity.

Though this was my third time getting to experience Third Eye Blind in a live setting, this felt like the most personable set to date, at least from my perspective. Being a tour kickoff, the band showed the utmost respect and humble gratitude for their fans both casual and diehard last Friday, and further reassured my opinion of Third Eye Blind’s dual appeal as both pop-rock titans as well as a genuine class act.

I do not know when I plan on getting the opportunity to see one of my favorite bands again, but rest assured, I know this most recent set won’t be my last.