There’s just something about experiencing live music on a perfect summer night, surrounded by people that are just as in-the-moment as you are. Even better when the bands on stage are the kinds of bands that have stood the test of time, soundtracking so many moments to your life. Third Eye Blind and Taking Back Sunday are bands that have been with me through thick and thin. Through formative years and adulthood. Through good times and bad. Seeing them together on the Summer Gods tour as it stopped through Indianapolis last week was just as cathartic as you might imagine.
Look, the past few years haven’t been easy on any of us. Maybe that’s the reason for the heightened feelings of joy and relief to be in the presence of the music we love. Having a full slate of summer concerts this year has certainly been a sight for sore eyes, but I’d be lying if I said this show wasn’t circled in red in my mind.
Like so many of you, Third Eye Blind’s 1997 debut self-titled album, followed by Blue in 1999, then by Taking Back Sunday’s breakout Tell All of Your Friends in 2002, and everything that came after, was a stretch run of impactful music in my life that’s almost unparalleled. But to imply that those moments are frozen in time would be wildly untrue. These are bands that have evolved right alongside my own musical tastes through the years, as I’ve documented ad nauseam.
It felt perfect then, as Taking Back Sunday took the stage, after an opening set from Hockey Dad, to the sound of “Tidal Wave”, the lead single and title track from the band’s most recent release in 2016 – and album that still feels underrated. Per usual, Adam Lazzara and the band were a delight to behold, smiling through their set and genuinely seeming to enjoy every moment.
As you might expect, the set spans across the band’s discography, but gives plenty of time for hits from fan favorite albums like Louder Now and Tell All Your Friends while still exploring a few unexpected songs from Where You Want to Be (“Set Phasers to Stun” – hooray!) and Happiness Is (another criminally underrated TBS album). Lazzara and guitarist/vocalist John Nolan’s stage banter is topped only by their timeless ability to build off of one another’s vocal performances, pushing every song over the top.
More than anything, Taking Back Sunday’s set reminded me that it’s been a while since we’ve received a proper release from the band. But something tells me that new music may be just around the corner.
It was only last fall that Third Eye Blind Our Bande Apart, their seventh full-length album. While the band’s early material still resonates with me the most, it’s phenomenally impressive how Stephan Jenkins and company have stood the test of time. Their set spans decades, and so many people around me seemed to know every word to every song.
No matter how many times I see Third Eye Blind live, I’m always impressed by Jenkins’ comfort level on stage and the timelessness of his voice. You could feel convinced that he’s performing hits like “Graduate” and “Losing a Whole Year” for the first time instead of the 500th time based on his emotion and conviction behind the mic. Say what you want about the man, but he’s nothing if not driven. Most recently, his passions have zeroed in on climate change, which is actually pretty fucking cool.
For the large majority of Third Eye Blind’s set, I crowd watched. There’s something about the communal experience of letting down your guard amongst strangers and leaning hard into the things that music makes us feel. On this night, it felt like everyone around me was experiencing those same feelings of catharsis as myself. A moment to feel normal again amongst the music that has carried us through for so many years. It just felt a little different in the best way possible.
by Kiel Hauck
Kiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.