With their blaring guitars and drug- and sex-suffused songs, Third Eye Blind suggests a certain knowingness and maturity, but the tour that arrived at the Wiltern for two shows — complete with a tacky clubhouse set and high-pitched, adolescent screams accompanying singer Stephan Jenkins’ every move –draws its inspiration from kiddie-pop. Which turns the San Francisco-based quartet into a musical “bridge line”: the intermediate step for fans who are too old for the Backstreet Boys but not ready to graduate to the more adult concerns of Pearl Jam or Radiohead. But their indifferent performance and hokey rock-star moves make it clear that Third Eye Blind is basically a showcase for the utter fabulousness that is Stephan Jenkins.
For all his moody good looks, onstage Jenkins is something of a cipher.
“Ten Days Late” — a song about getting a girl pregnant — is tossed off so offhandedly it could be about someone’s girlfriend missing her bikini waxing. The band’s performance was similarly uninspired. Often out of tune and rarely in sync, they were serviceable on poppier material such as their latest single “Never Let You Go” (from Blue [Elektra]) and “Semi-Charmed Life,” but had trouble navigating sludgy ballads such as “Wounded” or “Graduate.”
It’s possible that some of these shortcomings are due to the return of guitarist Tony Fredianelli, who rejoined Third Eye Blind in February after Kevin Cadogan was fired. His performance was tentative and never quite meshed with the band. Plus he’s an underwhelming soloist, so perhaps the real reason he was rehired is because in a three-quarter length jacket, granny sunglasses and the right haircut, he looked suspiciously like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.
Given the current state of Third Eye Blind that’s not too far a stretch.
In the three years since their debut, they’ve turned into a cut-rate fashion statement.