Third Eye Blind, the Jayhawks, Nina Gordon at the House of Blues

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
January 2, 2001

In the last few seconds of 2000, Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins was in a friendly frenzy at the House of Blues. He had picked out a young woman from the audience whom he wanted onstage NOW to help him count down to the new year.

The timing wasn’t perfect, but his efforts didn’t go unappreciated by the capacity crowd of revelers–or the beaming fan who got to hug and briefly chat with all the members of the band–who joined in the countdown, clinked their champagne glasses together and kissed their dates as colorful balloons fell from the rafters.

Jenkins even gave “Auld Lang Syne” a shot before giving up and leading his band through a so-so cover of the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated.” He did better later with a rendition of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself.”

With no Y2K fears and no new snowfall to worry about, fans Sunday night were able to experience a relatively laid back New Year’s Eve celebration. The audience was a mix of diehard Third Eye Blind fans and a relatively well-heeled group that didn’t seem to mind doling out $150 per ticket for whoever was playing at the event, broadcast live by WTMX-FM (101.9) and WFLD-Channel 32.

Dressed in a topcoat and a long, Edwardian-style velvet jacket, Jenkins straddled the line between rock god and dork. He was the object of much lust, and also the primary target for some of the rowdier fans who pelted the stage with strands of beads. Noticing that his on-again-off-again girlfriend, actress Charlize Theron, was nowhere in sight, Jade Perdue, a 28-year-old fan visiting from Baltimore, said, “Once Charlize is through with him, I’ll be happy to take over.”

The group’s 80-minute set encompassed all the hits (“Jumper,” “Graduate,” “Semi-Charmed Life”). Jenkins crafts melodies that are much more memorable than his capable but bland vocals. But he’s a good frontman who knows how to sell the songs live.

A few hours earlier, Chicagoan Nina Gordon had opened the concert precisely at 9 p.m. Sporting blond, feathered Farrah hair, the former member of Veruca Salt led her band through a well-paced set that featured songs from her debut solo album, “Tonight and the Rest of My Life.”

The ballad-heavy album shows that Gordon has good control over her very pretty voice. But it wasn’t until she unleashed some venom performing her signature Veruca songs, “Seether” and “Volcano Girls,” that the audience got a dose of just how good Gordon can rock out.

Sandwiched between the two acts, the Minneapolis-based Jayhawks exhibited the best vocals of the evening. The harmonies were distinctive and right on as they cranked their way through “I’d Run Away” and “Smile,” the title track from their current album.

You’ve got to wonder about a band’s decision not to play to its current radio hit. But if the audience even noticed that “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” was missing from the Jayhawks’ set list, they didn’t let on. 

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