When Third Eye Blind headlined Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater two years ago, on tour with Dashboard Confessional, the adoring crowd made it clear something had shifted in the band’s trajectory.
Having dominated pop-rock radio in the ’90s, songs like “Semi-Charmed Life” and “How’s It Going to Be” remained in rotation – much like “Stairway To Heaven” and “Hotel California” stayed in play well after their first runs in the ’70s. At one point, the Northern California quintet had returned to playing clubs like Tremont Music Hall and Neighborhood Theatre.
But it outgrew those venues for a second time. While many old fans had aged out of concert-going, a generation that wasn’t old enough to see them the first time had suddenly came of age.
“There’s this entire population of really young fans. It’s as simple as that,” says Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins. He and the band return to Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater Friday with opener Silversun Pickups.
Although the band has released new albums as recently as 2015’s “Dopamine” and 2016’s “We Are Drugs” EP, it’s now revisiting its 1997 self-titled debut album – the one that spawned all those hits – to mark its 20th anniversary and to honor its new generation of fans.
“It’s a thank-you to them. Kids from 17 to 27 years old, they keep our music alive. They discovered it as a playlist. They don’t care what year it is from. They don’t even notice,” says Jenkins. “I don’t really like nostalgia. It bores me. However, you can’t really be blasé about the fact we’re doing arena tours 20 years in. That’s quite something.”
Playing the album in its entirety is limited to the Summer Gods tour, which runs through July 23.
“It ends at The Greek, in our hometown, in Berkeley, where Brad (Hargreaves) and I went to college,” he adds.
Jenkins didn’t remember many of the songs.
“We had to relearn all of it. Half the record, I don’t play and I don’t listen to myself. I can play ‘We Are Drugs’ and ‘Dopamine’ backwards and forwards. I didn’t know the words to ‘London’ and the guitar parts to ‘Thanks A Lot,’ ” he says.
Rehearsing them has drawn Jenkins back to that time in his life and given him a new perspective on it.
And at 52, Jenkins says he likes the guy that wrote those songs.
“I think there’s someone very dear, angry, hopeful, confused and very alive making that record. So yeah. I like him. I’m not sure how much I did at the time,” he says. “I also look at the amount of work that went into it – the intensity to get to that point. I admire the gumption.”
Third Eye Blind were never the cool indie band. Jenkins wasn’t angry and didn’t fit the post-grunge mold. “At the time I felt I was so outside, such a misfit of the scene,” he says. “It was very nihilistic. Jane’s Addiction, Alice In Chains, Nirvana – so many bands were in that mode. Mine was like a rage to live. I realized later that I was the scene.”
He continues: “When you feel that way, you are the scene. You are the holder of the zeitgeist. Sometimes I’d realize that and those were the moments of glory.”
Third Eye Blind
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.