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Friday, October 8, 2010

San Francisco Semi-Charmed by Third Eye Blind Semi-Concert

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 9:06 AM

  • Gil Riego
Third Eye Blind was in San Francisco yesterday to -- wait, that's not right. Third Eye Blind is from San Francisco, is working on its fifth album here, has enough to say about Lincecum's pitching game to be composed of credible locals. Anyway, the band played yesterday, in Union Square, across from Macy's, where it was lending tuneful support to Tommy Hilfiger and his "Ultimate Tailgate Party." Why? Because you don't say no to Tommy Hilfiger, that's why. Also because Tommy Hilfiger is helping sponsor 3EB singer Stephan Jenkins's anti-poverty initiative, True Meaning. And because Jenkins had performed the day before at a young professionals event for Jerry Brown. Look, are we really going to sit down and sort through the complex web of mercantile affiliations? We've all got jobs.

Tommy Hilfiger onstage - GIL RIEGO
  • Gil Riego
  • Tommy Hilfiger onstage
Most of us anyway, because the reigning mood in the audience was just-stopped-by-on-my-lunch-break, or heard-some-commotion-in-the-distance, or needed-something-to-drown-out-the-Blue-Angels-screaming-by-overhead. (That is, of course, besides the teenage-seeming models being paid untold amounts of dough to embody the "Ultimate Tailgate" by lamping on and around a handful of classic cars, looking attractive in that Mario Lopez from Saved by the Bell kind of way, one of them actually holding a football.) Almost nobody, besides this correspondent, seemed to be there just to see Third Eye Blind. Or in any case nobody wanted to appear to be there just to see Third Eye Blind.

  • Gil Riego
Maybe there's good reason. It has been 13 years since its self-titled debut album -- an album whose merits I will go to cred-endangering lengths to defend -- came out, leaving hit singles like goose droppings on a soccer field. "Semi-Charmed Life"? Check. "Jumper"? Check. (They played both, and people sang along, but in that lip-biting way you sing along to "Don't Stop Believing.") That's a long time, almost clinically too long not to release a few duds or go through acrimonious lineup changes or have one of your most affecting songs coopted by Jim Carrey; it's also a long time for those of us old enough to have bought it the first time around -- I was twelve -- to stay sincerely interested. Much easier to be ironically interested, as two mustachioed hipsters behind me demonstrated, hooting and yowling every time the band started a song, finished a song, or bantered in the slightest. 

  • Gil Riego
But Third Eye Blind songs are unironically good, mostly, and even if yesterday's mini-set lacked the distortion punch that its albums pack, the band was spot-on in performing them, its members sitting on kitchen stools under the mid-day Union Square sun enjoying the MTV Unplugged moment they never had. They were dignified and tight and obliging -- they played "Motorcycle Drive By" per fan request -- and gave us more than we paid for. (Those of us who didn't buy $75 or more in Hilfiger duds in exchange for VIP seating, anyway.) If we'd had to pay anything at all, the crowd would have been altogether different -- fewer ties, fewer sheepish shrugs -- but the people who showed up yesterday were the ones who needed it most.

  • Gil Riego
Let this occasion a reconsideration of the band's first record at least. Go ahead, give it another listen. It's not going anywhere.

Critic's notebook

Overheard: "Who plays football in khaki? If somebody went to Dolores Park and did that, they'd get booed out of the park."

  • Gil Riego

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