Third Eye Blind
Red Hat Amphitheater, Raleigh
Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Shortly into Third Eye Blind’s midweek set at Red Hat Amphitheater on Tuesday, longtime leader Stephan Jenkins shared his relief and anticipation with the nostalgia-seeking crowd. “We can finally say that our new album comes out next week,” he announced, alluding to a career that’s been marked by long between-album cycles since the band dominated pop-rock airwaves in the late ’90s. The new Dopamine will be just the second full-length the group has released since 2003’s Out of the Vein, despite staying relatively active as a touring outfit.

If it weren’t for Jenkins’ statement, there would have been little evidence that Third Eye Blind was touring in support of a new release, given that they played only three cuts from the forthcoming Dopamine. Maybe that was for the best. Although “Rites of Passage” and “Something in You” are in line with the band’s most recent, moderately catchy songs, they fell flat on unfamiliar ears. Even lead single “Everything is Easy”—with its ebullient arrangement and lyrics reminiscent of Jenkins’ early romanticism and rebellion—only seemed to move the needle when Jenkins sang “go ahead, take my heart up/roll it up like a joint,” a line that suggested exactly how much the nostalgia seekers come to party.

Instead, the San Francisco group relied on a tried-and-true method for formulating fan-pleasing shows. They plowed through the best-known cuts from their multi-platinum self-titled debut, with a couple singles each from both Blue and Out of the Vein and a cover of Beyoncé’s “Mine,” a recent setlist standard. When Jenkins offered that he “had an idea to play some new songs and some old songs,” there was little surprise which part of the idea earned the louder approval.

For better or worse, there are few surprises at all these days at a Third Eye Blind show, and that seemed to suit attendees in Raleigh just fine. Sure, folks like myself, whose adolescence is strongly tied to the sounds of 3EB’s debut, might go for the addition of some deep cuts, including just about anything from the single-free middle of that album. But there’s something to be said for reliably giving the people what they want—hooky jams stuck in the memories of nearly every radio-listening millennial around, even at the expense of new album sales.