The Summer Gods Tour 2019 featuring Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind as co-headliners offered a healthy dose of alternative pop rock from around the turn of the century and some music to come to a well-attended Theater of the Clouds on Tuesday at the Moda Center in Portland, OR.
Third Eye Blind rocketed to fame in 1997 with their debut eponymous album while Jimmy Eat World found solid footing after the release of their fourth album Bleed American in 2001 that steered the band away from more a punk rock act to the power pop rock sound that now defines their career. Both bands continue to regularly tour and release albums though neither has released a full album in three years. Though, Third Eye Blind offered the seven song EP Thanks for Everything last year fans can expect some additional new music sometime this year.
I’ve never understood how co-headlining tours work whether the two bands swap nights in terms of who actually “opens” and the other finishes the evening or one mostly serves as opener but gets co-headline billing for prosperity sake. Usually, you can figure out based on the press announcement or even just the admission ticket for who actually headlines. Or attend multiple shows. But on this night it was clear one band should fully headline the tour while the other should open.
Jimmy Eat World Concert
Jimmy Eat World started things off and delivered a clinic on efficiency and effectiveness. Granted a complete stage show comes rather hard for two bands, Jimmy Eat World kept it simple grabbing the mic shortly after true openers Ra Ra Riot finished their set. Once the banner for the opening band dropped, displaying Jimmy Eat World, the Phoenix-based rockers took the stage and should have never looked back.
From the opening riff on “Pain,” Jimmy Eat World was dialed and breezed through a 14 song set in just under an hour. Perhaps those four large fans in-cased in the banner that sporadically turned on throughout the evening offered a metaphor of sorts. Singer Jim Adkins quickly led the band from song to song taking an occasionally moment say hello, thank the fans or introduce their new tune “Love Never,” a solid rock song, but mostly the band stuck to the setlist script and played.
Jimmy Eat World covered five of their nine studio albums with healthy selections from Bleed American and Futures but mostly an eclectic choice of songs featuring their hits “Lucky Denver Mint,” “Futures,” “Sure and Certain” and of course the smash single “The Middle” which closed their evening, along with deeper album cuts ranging from the melancholically “23” to the touching “Here You Me” and the brand new song “Love Never” which on first spin sounds like it continues in the vein that’s treated Jimmy Eat World so well.
The guitar driven “Big Casino” doesn’t get all that much airplay but deserves a place alongside their hits as does the rocking “Bleed American” the title track to their biggest album, most certainly eclipsed by the success of the popular radio fare that emerged from that record. Both songs bolstered the setlist.
Though Moda typically affords a high quality sound, the hour was marred a bit with a higher level of treble often shrouding the bass. The Theater of the Clouds setup features an amphitheater setting with a general admission pit and cuts off probably two-thirds of the basketball sized arena with room for about 6,500 people. The higher pitched treble was not too terribly annoying, ear plugs helped and overall Jimmy Eat World kept it light, fun and fast paced.
Third Eye Blind Concert
Once upon a time a long time ago, one of the catchiest songs on the planet came through the airwaves. Summer of 1997. It was one I couldn’t get enough of and wanted to listen to over and over and over. It provided a respite of sorts during a difficult job experience at the time but like all things new, it got old (a bit) but stepping away kept it fresh and meaningful.
I never forgot about “Semi-Charmed Life” nor Third Eye Blind the makers of that lasting gem and who surprising did not become a one hit wonder as many off their eponymous debut album killed it. Though Third Eye Blind’s popularity waned a bit (it doesn’t help to have multiple line-ups among other issues) in the years that followed they marched forth, releasing a few albums, taking a break, then back to making records and touring again.
Unfortunately, not only was “Semi-Charmed Life” somewhat of a mess, the 20 song, hour and half setlist from Third Eye Blind had little intensity and felt altogether disjointed. They started well, actually quite well, as they opened with “Screamer” behind a sheer screen giving the band a pretty cool shadow effect. The screen eventually dropped displaying a rather elaborate stage set up with far more lighting than afforded Jimmy Eat World and stylish projection screens set-up for the visuals.
Whether it was Jimmy Eat World harnessing all the energy and leaving with it or Third Eye Blind just couldn’t capture the moment, the evening’s liveliness was somehow lost. Granted it very well may have been lost on me but even their hits which got an early start with “Never Let You Go,” up third on the night, just fell flat. The great “Back to Zero” sounded about 30 seconds long (no idea what was going on there) and the evening felt like slow motion by the time the band got to “Slow Motion” halfway through the setlist.
Singer Stephan Jenkins spent a good long five minutes or so chatting up the audience after “Never Let You Go” then encouraging the audience to turn and greet someone they didn’t know. Aaarrgghh. Once he interrupted the next song “Back to Zero” with more ambiguous dialogue a woman near me yelled out “Stop Talking! and I knew I was not alone.
Unlike, Jimmy Eat World’s set, Third Eye Blind had too much bass sounding distorted at times, but regardless the performance was mostly shallow and the sometimes vulgar Jenkins sounded way off tune with the band and almost nothing like their records. The collection of slower songs – “Wounded,” “I Want You,” and the great (on CD) “Slow Motion” – didn’t help matters and probably should not be played live but even if they replaced some of those with more hard rocking fare like “1000 Julys” it probably wouldn’t have helped much.
The last half of “Motorcycle Drive By” felt like a hopeful turning point that perhaps a more festive second half was coming but the popular “Jumper” failed to impress and “Bonfire,” the only tract off 2009’s Ursa Major, made little impression.
The performance reminded me of the first time I saw Coldplay so many years ago as the excitement bubbled over, they band took the stage and within four songs I was bored. Perhaps some kinks need ironing out as the Summer Gods Tour 2019 just started or Third Eye Blind just doesn’t translate well as a live band but all those memorable hooks and melodies for so many of their songs that radiate digitally felt harnessed and lacking once the band plugged in.
The music wasn’t terribly bad or incoherent, “Company of Strangers” was OK and “Something in You” finally showed off a solid vocal range for Jenkins. Most of the melodies echoed through just minus the magnetism and might you get from the studio versions. At times, Third Eye Blind sounded like a garage band or just practicing, songs ended abruptly with no pacing from one to the next and when they closed the main set with an uninspired “How’s It Going to be” they just stopped, Jenkins laid down his guitar and walked off.
Perhaps, he too was unimpressed.
Ironically, the best song of the evening was ”God of Wine” the last song of the night holding a peculiar spot on the setlist considering its gloomy arrangement and coming after their uplifting smash hit “Semi-Charmed Life.” But after Jenkins handed vocal duties over to the crowd on the opening frames to “Semi-Charmed Life,” which at that point I had no interest in hearing, it made for a most appropriate ending to the night.
Jimmy Eat World – Summer Gods Tour – Portland Setlist
- Bleed American
- Lucky Denver Mint
- Love Never – new
- Always Be
- Here You Me
- Sure and Certain
- Big Casino
- A Praise Chorus
- The Middle
Third Eye Blind – Summer Gods Tour – Portland Setlist
- The Kids
- Never Let You Go
- Back to Zero
- Can You Take Me
- I Want You
- Slow Motion
- Motorcycle Drive By
- Company of Strangers
- Something In You
- How’s It Going to Be
- Losing a Whole Year
- New Song
- Semi Charmed Life
- God of Wine