October 4, 2005

Nice Little Sunday Night

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Mixing the old with the new, Third Eye Blind sampled well-known hits from their complete body of work but also experimented with never-been-played new material during their Sunday concert at Barton Hall. Organized by the Cornell Concert Commission, the show also featured singer Matt Nathanson, who manages to break out of the mellow, mopey John Mayer mold so typical of the genre.
Nathanson opened opened the show. The acerbic, yet irresistibly charming male singer/songwriter is half riveting musician and half hilarious comedian. Armed with only his guitar and his voice, Nathanson proved that he could exude a Gavin DeGraw-on-strings sort of vibe complete with soul-searing voice and semi-ambiguous, yet flowing lyrics. Rather than stew in the continuously increasing pot of acoustic musical geniuses, however, Nathanson really distinguished himself from his angsty peers by pulling a complete 180 with several irreverent, upbeat tracks including “Laid,” his contribution to the American Wedding soundtrack and a number with what Nathanson calls “the best third line” of any song. Just for the record, the aforementioned line happens to be, “She only comes when she’s on top.”
Besides being such a relaxed stage personality completely comfortable in his skin, Nathanson is surprisingly prolific; the veteran of four albums and over 250 live shows nationwide. As for myself, the moment he spontaneously launched into the chorus of “Such Great Heights,” I knew Nathanson was a keeper. My gut feeling was only reaffirmed several moments later when he faked out the audience with a rendition of the opener from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” with the utmost stoicism.
Following Nathanson’s memorable performance, Third Eye Blind’s full-bodied sound proved a distinct contrast from the stripped-down melodies of their opening act. The band immediately launched into energetic renditions of songs ranging from their debut album such as “How’s it Going to Be” to their most recent album, Out of the Vein like “Crystal Baller.”
Lead singer Stephan Jenkins’ well-known stage presence was turned on at full blast as he belted out lyrics and established an intimate dynamic with the audience despite the impersonal nature of the spacious performing area.
The band then unveiled three new songs to be featured on their next album: “Don’t Believe a Word,” “Summertown” and “Second Born.” What followed was a trip down memory lane as the band performed “Jumper” complete with backup vocals provided by an enthusiastic crowd. We all knew what was going to happen next and when the familiar strains of “Semi-Chamed Life” began, the audience pulsated with a shared cry of approval. The performance was also flavored with a solo courtesy of guitar player Tony Fredianelli.
Other highlights from the concert included “Motorcycle Drive By” as well as a multiple song encore performance. Beneath a solitary spotlight, Jenkins delivered an impassioned acoustic version of “Deep Inside of You” followed by other songs. He was eventually joined by the rest of the band and the concert concluded with a reiteration of the band’s unique brand of music. Coursing with energy, the crowd was riveted and basking in the sweaty satisfaction of having been on the receiving end of an engaging performance.
Low points in the evening included the fiendishly motivated crowd of moshers who decided to gather two feet away from me and actually found the energy and justification to tenaciously body slam each other with unwavering temerity even though the most mellow of rock ballads. Good call, guys. Good call.
Following in at a close second in the contest of obnoxious behavior was the direction-deficient crowd surfers who kept traveling in circles far from the action. Known for their love of playing for live audiences, Third Eye Blind inflamed the crowd on Sunday night and reminded us all why we would never want anything else.

Archived article by Tracy Zhang
Arts and Entertainment Editor