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Third Eye Blind's protest set at Republican National Convention, explained by a Third Eye Blind fan

Published Jul. 20, 2016

In Tuesday in Cleveland, late-'90s alt-rock outfit Third Eye Blind played what many are calling a protest concert designed to troll attendees of the Republican National Convention. During the show, they reportedly taunted attendees by promoting LGBT rights, asking fans if they believed in science, and played virtually no hits.

To that I would say: "No hits?" What are you talking about? Jumper, Losing A Whole Year, Crystal Baller and Never Let You Go are all awesome songs!

See, I happen to be a huge Third Eye Blind fan. Read all about it here. And here and here and here. They were the first concert I ever saw, and I've seen them like six more times since. While their first, self-titled album is probably the only one most of you own, I can assure you there are songs on nearly every other album that are just as good as Semi-Charmed Life or Graduate. You haven't lived until you've screamed along to Bonfire, off 2009's Ursa Major.

While the rest of you were scratching your heads over their appearance at this year's Bonnaroo or Stephan Jenkins' cameo during the Chainsmokers' set at Lollapalooza ("We're huge Third Eye Blind fans," the Chainsmokers' Alex Pall told me earlier this year), I was completely unfazed. They write good songs, good hooks and still have a huge base of cult fans, myself included. What's so shocking?

But I do have to admit I never expected them to spend all day trending on Twitter.

It all happened after their Cleveland set, a charity gig at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in support of a group called Musicians On Call. As reported by Pitchfork, the band was booed for their intransigent antics, to which Jenkins replied, "You can boo all you want, but I'm the motherf---ing artist up here." The group even played Non-Dairy Creamer (another great song!), a song that specifically mentions "two gay Republicans."

"Given that the benefit was held in Cleveland, we suspected that convention types might show up and we let it be known we were there to support Musicians on Call and that we in fact repudiate every last stitch of the RNC platform and the grotesque that is their nomineee," the band wrote on Facebook. They added plugs for Black Lives Matter, LGBT equality and the separation of church and state ("still a good idea").

The odd thing is, Jenkans has spoken out before about his unwillingness to play a gig near the Republican National Convention. He was invited to perform at a gig in Tampa in 2012, but according to an op-ed in the Huffington Post, turned it down.

"Though I am happy to play for Republican fans, like my life-long Republican mom, playing the RNC convention is a tacit endorsement of the Republican presidential candidate and his party platform, and this is not my mom's Republican Party anymore," he wrote.

On the other hand, is it really surprising Jenkins trolled the RNC like this? As a longtime fan, it pains me to admit it, but the guy, by many accounts, is kind of a B-hole. His onstage antics occasionally get smug and antagonistic, and it would never surprise me if he didn't play a big hit. But don't take my word for it. Take this guy's. Or this guy's. Or this guy's. The stories seem to be endless.

Many people might be shocked that Third Eye Blind did something bold and arrogant to make a statement, but to me, it just sounds like par-for-the-course Stephan. Enjoy running with that, political Twitter.

I would love to have seen Tuesday's concert in Cleveland. Not because it was historic, or because it sent some sort of political message. But because they played Crystal Baller. Seriously. Check it out. It's great.

-- Jay Cridlin

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