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Third Eye Blind + Jimmy Eat World @ Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre, Sterling Heights, MI

Third Eye Blind © John Swider 

Sterling Heights, Michigan (June 28, 2019) The Summer Gods Tour 2019, featuring Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World as co-headliners, made a stop at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights, MI, tonight and offered up a healthy dose of older alternative rock mixed in with some “soon-to-be released” new music. Even though rumors floated about low-ticket sales, the outdoor venue filled to near capacity, albeit a few empty seats in the outer reaches, all of which created a festive, ready-to-party atmosphere that permeated the humid night air.

Who comes out to see Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World in 2019? It’s the group of fans who were in their late teens and early twenties back in the band’s heyday looking to relive a time when all that mattered was the music and the party. Tonight these same forty-somethings draped their legs over chairs, took selfies in a multitude of poses and genuinely appeared to be having a great time.

Jimmy Eat World © John Swider 

Jimmy Eat World started things off and delivered a musical clinic on efficiency and simplicity. Right after Ra Ra Riot finished their set and their banner dropped and displayed “Jimmy Eat World,” the Phoenix-based rockers took the stage and never looked back.From the opening riff on “Pain,” the well thought out playlist was dialed and band worked effortlessly through their 14-song set in just under an hour. Singer Jim Adkins quickly led the band from song to song taking an occasionally moment to interact with the crowd. Whether showing gratitude to their fans for coming out or introducing the new song “Love Never,” Adkins was sincere yet intently focused.

Jimmy Eat World © John Swider   

Jimmy Eat World covered music from five of their nine studio albums with healthy amount of material from Bleed American and Futures. Mixed in was an eclectic choice of their biggest hits, “Lucky Denver Mint,” “Futures” and “Sure and Certain” along with few of the deeper cuts from their expansive library added in for the seasoned fans. These archived classics ranged from the melancholically “23” to the touching “Here You Me” which had fans smiling and based on facial expressions, reminiscing about a time long since forgotten.

The night wouldn’t have been complete without an over-the-top performance of the smash single “The Middle,” and Jimmy Eat World gladly obliged. With the crowd on their feet singing along and building towards the final crescendo, the night was  complete culminating with a powerful show of adulation for the band from Phoenix.

06/28/19 - Jimmy Eat World @ Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre, Sterling Heights, MI © John Swider

When show time finally came around for Third Eye Blind, somebody forgot to inform them that they stopped being mainstream performers back in the 90’s, and maybe that’s for the better: they perform like they are still one of the biggest bands in the world, which is major ingredient of why this show was as electrifying as it was. Speaking of electrifying, their stage tonight was packed with towering LED screens combined with an intricate array of lights surrounding them that was more at home in a massive arena tour than a mid-sized outdoor venue. Did I forget to mention the inordinate amount of lasers on hand? Yes, they had them too, and with the lighting techs precision, it created a mesmerizing light show that would make the some of the biggest artists in the world today envious of the over the top production.

Their 90-minute, 21 song set started strong as Third Eye Blind opened with “Screamer” while illuminated behind a sheer curtain. The effect gave the band a cool, back-lit shadow effect that allowed the fans to witness some of the interactions that are often overlooked. The curtain eventually dropped at the start of “The Kids” which brought to life the elaborate stage and lighting setup described earlier.

Third Eye Blind © John Swider 

Before the first few chords of set’s third song “Never Let You Go,” frontman Stephan Jenkins addressed the audience, admiring them for coming out en masse despite not having a new album, while also welcoming those in the crowd who haven’t seen them before.His seemingly genuine thankfulness was expressed repeatedly, and often had him enthusiastically grasping front-row hands with genuine appreciation. It was a welcomed change in comparison to some of the stodgy performers that we are burdened with today and frankly, can do without.

Even though Third Eye Blinds performance was musically pleasing and visually stunning, it wasn’t quite as cohesive as Jimmy Eats World. “Company of Strangers” was well played but the transition into the hit “Jumper,” a few misplaced riffs made the opening chords of the piece awkward and shallow. Usually this doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of the set and is often overlooked, but when you headline a show of this caliber, every little mistake is magnified exponentially.

Third Eye Blind © John Swider 

The rest of the night was nothing but vintage Third Eye Blind at their finest. An onslaught of cuts fueled with searing guitars and Jenkins mesmerizing vocals gripped the fans from the start and never let go. We were treated to a remarkably satisfying solo acoustic performance of “Slow Motion” followed up by with a dramatically staged version of “Motorcycle Drive-By,” which created a truly dynamic one-two delivery. Hearing Jenkins sing ”Losing A Whole Year” and “How’s It Going to Be” could easily have been the high points at any other show, but an extended version of the worldly “Semi-Charmed Life”  literally tore the roof off the place. In reality, its not uncommon to have the house standing and singing along with a “signature” song, but Third Eye Blinds performance of the mega-hit gave us a glimpse and feel of what it must have been like in their heyday and made the moment all that much more special.

Finally as in true fashion, the traditional closing “God of Wine” took the fans down that emotional roller coaster that we call life, one last time. Sultry with heavy guitar licks, it was the perfect ending to a night that had many fans reliving a time in their life when music was king and the party was only a Scotch or a Moscow Mule away.

06/28/19 - Third Eye Blind @ Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre, Sterling Heights, MI © John Swider
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