TVD Live: Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional at Jacobs Pavilion, 5/29

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | Nostalgia can be a hell of a drug. The wistful pull to what you’ve enjoyed in the past can be an irresistible siren’s song. It causes you to revisit things that you’ve made an emotional connection with but have since moved from.

The Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional summer tour, which kicked off in Cleveland last Friday, has indirectly been positioned as a taste of late ’90s/early ’00s goodness. Two bands from a time when alternative radio was breathing its dying gasps and transitioning to a new world of MP3s.

This tour isn’t positioned as nostalgia bait by the artists involved, mind you. Both bands have had successful careers since their immediate success as new artists way back when, and Third Eye Blind has a new release on the way. When I say indirectly positioned, I’m talking more about this kind of stuff. It’s very easy for fans and journalists to read into this tour as a piece of nostalgic cash-in.

And that’s fine to think that. I’m sure a ton of people are seeing the show for those reasons. Hell, that’s what piqued my initial interest but I was a bit ashamed of revisiting music I liked so many years ago. But I don’t think that’s how either artist views this tour, and after seeing both bands perform it reopened the door for me to appreciate what they excel as artists. I may not be diving back in as a super fan or anything, but it was a reminder that both bands got very popular for a reason.

In the case of Dashboard Confessional, the discussion begins and ends with singer/guitarist Chris Carrabba. While I may look back and thumb my nose at the time I was a fan of “emo” (whatever that means) music… DAMN this guy can sing. It’s been about 15 years since I really have cared about the band on any meaningful level, but I was really surprised how enjoyable it was seeing them live. It was worth it just to hear those vocals. Honestly, I would place him as one of the best and most interesting rock vocalists I’ve ever heard live.

Carrabba goes from a coo to a yelp with ease, sometimes all within a line in a song, and sounds great doing it. Dashboard Confessional becomes a really interesting live act if you can take away the stigma that comes with liking something so melodramatic and just put yourself at ease with a checking out a great singer with a tight backing band.

Mix in their devoted following and fans that make nearly every song a sing along, it’s just mindless fun. Yeah, we know… emo isn’t cool anymore. Put that aside and it’s something to see.

While on the subject of distinct singers, Third Eye Blind’s Stephen Jenkins is no slouch either. His phrasing and cadence in the context of pretty standard pop rock songs is first class and distinctive. Live, he’s not the most dynamic performer, but he hits every single note and immediately reminds you that they are a really great band with some fantastic songs.

And those songs are the difference between seeing Dashboard Confessional and Third Eye Blind. Dashboard Confessional was born of a very trendy genre of music while Third Eye Blind was not. Third Eye Blind is a stone cold killer pop rock band, and there should be no shame or stigma around appreciating their music. Go look at the track list of the first two Third Eye Blind records. Go ahead! I’ll wait. That’s a pretty killer catalog of songs.

As I said before, Third Eye Blind has a new record coming out. And yes, they do play songs from it (two or so by my count). That shouldn’t be a deterrent. Is it the quality of the old stuff? No. But the songs aren’t offensively bad and this isn’t a band that has changed its sound much over the years (that’s a good thing). And who knows, the lead single “Everything is Easy” might have been a giant radio hit if rock radio wasn’t buried six feed under.

As a reviewer and music fan, I was dubious of this tour. I was pulled in because I had feelings for both of these bands in formative years of my life (late high school/early college), but I don’t regret going for a second and actually got more out of the show than I expected.

Sometimes it’s worth not being embarrassed of your past to discover that things are just as good as you remember them.



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