Written and Photographed by Killian O’Neil
Alternative Rock has been a staple for so many people throughout the years. It has evolved into the comfort food of music from where I stand. So it wasn’t surprising that Taking Back Sunday and Third Eye Blind were going back on the road together for the “Summer of Gods Tour”. As a music lover and a huge TBS fan, I made it a point to see them this go around. It was mainly because I hadn’t missed a show from them in almost 15 years and had not seen them since before the pandemic.
Doors opened at five thirty, and everyone started to frolic up towards the gates amidst the humidity and overcast skies that hung over all of our heads. Nobody seemed to mind a damp chill in the air because of the nostalgic night we had in store.
The opener that evening was a band called Hockey Dad. They’re a two-member surf rock band from Australia consisting of Billy Fleming, the drummer, and Zach Stephenson on vocals and guitar. They played seven songs, including their newest single, “T’s to the Cross,” which is catchy and an upbeat tune. “T’s to the Cross” is sprinkled with the right amount of grit and pop to make you want to sing along. Hockey Dad would be the love child of the Black Keys, Pete Doherty, and Beach House. For two dudes from Australia, they killed it. Once they wrapped, it was “go time.”
The crowd split between the die-hard emo Taking Back Sunday fans and the Gen X’ers. Who were waiting patiently for Third Eye Blind to take the stage with a pounder in hand.
An eruption of sound came from the speakers, and walking from stage left, was Adam Lazzara. “So what’s gonna happen when the old man goes? Will you embrace chaos or take control?” he belted out, From their song “Tidal Wave” on their latest album in 2016. Like I said earlier, I have seen TBS countless times, and this specific performance was different. I don’t know exactly what was happening as the music continued to play on, but it wasn’t anything I was used to by them. The sound was extraordinarily jumbled, and it was hard to make out any of the lyrics. Imagine a sock over the microphone and all speakers were drowning out the words because that is what you got.
TBS had a lineup full of fan favorites, including; “You’re So Last Summer,” “A Decade Under the Influence,” “Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team),” and “Liar,” just to name a few. It started off pretty rocky, but it finally started to level off towards the end of the set. They wrapped up with “MakeDamnSure” as Lazzara made his signature move and wrapped the mic around his neck while singing. The crowd erupted into cheering, singing every last word and holding onto every last breath as their set closed. As much as it pains me to admit this, that performance was subpar at best. I hope they figure out what the missing link is soon because they are typically an incredible live show.
It was abundantly clear that most of the audience was there for Third Eye Blind. As soon as TBS got off stage, all of their fans left and cleared out, making room for all the new patrons filing in and filling all the empty spaces. The set change seemed like an eternity, but after 30 minutes, the band took the stage. The set wasn’t elaborate, but it didn’t have to be. It was understated with a ramp and a backdrop that resembled being in a wooded area.
The entire stage was black until it wasn’t, and each member appeared one by one. A slow intro turned into the opening song, “Ways.” I couldn’t spot a single human being in that concert that wasn’t singing or attempting to sing these songs that were portals of the past. You could tell in every single person’s eyes that this band wasn’t just about music to them. This band, in particular, meant a little more than just something to listen to. Halfway through their set Stephan Jenkins stopped the show, walked into the crowd, and asked everyone to find someone they didn’t know and say, “I’m glad you’re here have a beautiful night.”
The show continued to surprise me, which is a rarity these days. TEB played a remarkable set that evening. Between the song choice and light show, it was top-notch. Jenkins played both “Redstar” and the background acoustically, and I thought that my eardrum might pop with the response from everyone around me. The sound was clear and crisp, unlike TBS, and you could actually hear what the hell was being sung. Their set included iconic songs like “Jumper,” “Motorcycle Drive By,” and How’s it Going to Be.”
Jenkins wrapped up the night by thanking Philly for the inspiration and the warm energy and then directed everyone to put their arm around someone and “start swaying.” It’s a no-brainer why Third Eye Blind is headlining this tour and how, after years, they are as iconic as they were in the 90s.