Review third eye blind dusts off a classic for diehards at clearwater’s coachman park static electricity zap

"Last night I was a little bit nervous," Stephan Jenkins said during Third Eye Blind’s concert Saturday at Clearwater’s Coachman Park, the second stop of a summer tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their blockbuster debut album. "Tonight I just want blood."

That he got, in the form of 5,480 Third Eye Blind diehards who’ve bled for that self-titled album since 1997. For them, this tour is something of a nostalgic thank-you note, as Jenkins and company are playing the six-times-platinum LP in full. It’s an increasingly common tour gimmick, but one that in this case was nevertheless welcomed with open arms.

These fans knew it. Third Eye Blind has long had a passionate cult fan base, but selling out Coachman Park had to be validating and vindicating. (For comparison’s sake, a recent John Legend show there drew just under 4,000.) The late ‘90s may have been a profoundly uncool era of mainstream alternative rock, but 20 years later, Third Eye Blind deserves this victory lap.

The "Summer Gods Tour" – so named for new music that Jenkins had planned to release beforehand, but in "very typical Third Eye Blind fashion, we f—ed it up" – opened with Jenkins and his bandmates lining a riser on the back of the stage, working through a few newer songs that prove Jenkins’ gift for finding hooks and melodies never totally left. He tossed in the 1997 B-side Horror Show and 1999 single Wounded for those who stopped caring in 2000, but underestimate 2016’s thriving, pounding Company of Strangers and Queen of Daydreams at your own risk. Plenty down front knew the words to those, too.

Devotees will recognize these lines from the album’s loaded Side A – in order, Narcolepsy, Semi-Charmed Life, Jumper, Graduate and How’s It Going to Be. Karaoke crowd-pleasers, all, and Jenkins dutifully sang them all word for word, perhaps even more straightforwardly than he has at other shows through the years, when he’d occasionally come across as aloof (as he did on Saturday’s bouncy encore cut Never Let You Go).

The hit-light Side B, on the other hand? For some, it was grab-a-beer time; for others, it was just as good. Jenkins seemed a little more invested in each song when he knew he couldn’t count on the full crowd to sing along, even though many still did.

There was Burning Man, with its manic structure and rip-roaring chorus; Good For You, with its thick, pummeling riffs and blood-red lighting; London, with its punkish guitars and Brad Hargreaves’ rat-a-tat drum solo; I Want You, a breath of air with its acoustic guitars and shakers. And, yes, there was Motorcycle Drive By, the single that never was, a coastal California epic that among fans is as beloved as any of the album’s monster singles. For good measure, they threw in Alright Caroline, an old song Jenkins wrote for the album but only just recorded for a new 20th anniversary reissue.

This being the second show of the tour, there was indeed a little rust – Jenkins’ voice, never pristine to begin with, seemed a little froggy at times. There was no mention of co-founding (and unamicably departed) guitarist Kevin Cadogan, who co-wrote most of the album and whose razor-sharp riffs were missed Saturday.

And owing, perhaps, to the night’s overwhelming focus on Third Eye Blind, openers Silversun Pickups never really managed to get the crowd going. But buoyed themselves by an ongoing wave of mid-2000s blog-rock nostalgia, the slithery L.A. indie rockers seemed still seemed happy to be there, with singer-guitarist Brian Aubert snarling and twisting and playing off the audience at both ends of the stage, and bassist Nikki Monninger leaping and beaming in sparkly silver heels. The jittery distortion of Circadian Rhythms, The Substitution and Latchkey Kids set more than a few fans’ heads bobbing; familiar hits Panic Switch and closer Lazy Eye finally got bodies up and writhing.

But as Aubert pointed out, the crowd was way more awash in Third Eye Blind T-shirts — some vintage, but a whole lot purchased there, that night, with actual 2017 dollars. Jenkins wore one, too, and by the end of Third Eye Blind’s swaying closer God of Wine – saved for the end of the encore – he’d peeled it off and passed it to someone in the pit.

A couple of decades from now, that shirt’ll make a pretty sweet memory. And Third Eye Blind’s debut album will probably sound just as good. Go ahead and pencil in another anniversary tour for 2047. Rust washes off, but Third Eye Blind’s fans aren’t going away. Those songs are in their blood.