Okay, full disclosure: I’m a Third Eye Blind fan. Some people might even say fanatic. And not in a nostalgic, I-loved-the-band-when-I-was-a-kid-and-have-too-many-great-memories-associated-with-its-songs-to-stop-listening sort of way. In fact, I didn’t even start liking 3EB back when it was on the top of the charts and “Semi-Charmed Life” was used in one out of every three movie trailers—I began with “Never Let You Go” and Blue, and then worked my way back to the first record, which is one of the handful of albums I own that I can genuinely say I like every single song. I understand that I’ve probably lost most of you by this point—those of you who I didn’t already lose with my top 10 albums of 2008, which, if I remember correctly, prompted a commenter to say I should never be allowed to vote again (I think because I put Coldplay at #1, not because I made American Music Club #2)—but that’s okay, as long as you don’t come up to me later and ask why I like Matchbox 20. I loathe Matchbox 20, and that shitty band should never, ever be confused with my beloved 3EB.
We’ll get back to why I just went off about Stephan Jenkins & Co., but right now I’m at the Insound 10th-anniversary party at Club De Ville watching former Pitchfork/Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes frontman Rick Froberg barreling through a set with his new Obits. It sounds pretty much like you’d expect: loud, a little fractured, and kinda boring. Next up is Wolf Parade side project Handsome Furs and its side-project-sounding electro-rock, but I’m just biding my time until the main reason why I’m here takes the stage: a temporarily reunited American Analog Set playing The Golden Band (which, like Insound, is turning 10 this year) in its entirety. AmAnSet goes on later than its planned 2:05 p.m. start—which makes me a little nervous since I’m missing the Onion party for this—but once the band starts “Weather Report,” I know it’s all going to be worth it. “It’s All About Us” and its epic outro turns out to be my favorite moment of the set, but it’s “A Schoolboy’s Charm” that makes leader Andrew Kenny’s wife, who I’m watching with, start crying. (I suppose it’s worth mentioning that I married Kenny and Sheila three years ago, and it’s worth noting here because Kenny is one of my few musician friends who I became friends with because of his music, a great journey that for me began with The Golden Band.) Kenny also has a new project called The Wooden Birds that I’m hoping to see tomorrow.
It’s around 3:45 p.m. and I’m finally at the Onion party at the Radio Room, where on the inside stage San Francisco comedian Alex Koll is talking about sweat and cum and other related topics that keep making me laugh. Next up is the cabaret/carnival indie rock of Parenthetical Girls, which only gets bearable during their cover of OMD’s “Joan Of Arc,” and from there I’m only vaguely aware of what’s going on at both stages, which are hosting Ra Ra Riot, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, and comedian Todd Barry. I’m spending most of my time talking shit with people who I barely know and who seem to be far less drunk than I am, which is sort of a terrifying combination. I know for a fact that I’m not the one who started the conversation about air-sex competitions, and at least I’m clearheaded enough to know that I probably shouldn’t add to it. Besides, I need to get over to the convention center to see Third Eye Blind play this DirecTV thing at 6…
I don’t really know how many people I expected to find waiting to see 3EB, but it certainly wasn’t the amount that’s snaked around several corners of the first floor of the convention center. I’d walk with my people if I could find them, but these certainly aren’t my people—and my young friend who’s a closeted 3EB fan, who went with me to see the band play its 10th-anniversary shows at The Fillmore a couple of years ago, is MIA—but I don’t care, baby, I don’t care. Inside the “Lone Star Lounge”—put in quotes because the bad retro decor makes it feel like we’re seeing a band at Chili’s or T.G.I. Friday’s, really driving home the point that this is a fake bar in a convention center—the band seems like it’s sort of missing the mark (that’s my third 3EB lyric reference, in case you’re wondering) in the way that bands can sound weird when they play late-night talk shows. “Wounded” sounds great, but this set is making me realize that I’m going to need to see its Stubb’s set tomorrow if I want to get my Third Eye Blind fix.
One important thing to know about SXSW is that almost 100% of rumors turn out to be true, or at least the ones I end up hearing about. So when I hear that Metallica—a band that I’ve always wanted to see, but never have since I’m not really into the metalheads-at-the-arena scene—is playing at Stubb’s as part of this Guitar Hero Metallica event, I cross my fingers and get in line. Silversun Pickups are supposed to go on at 9, but thankfully I get in just before 8, ’cause they’re on an hour early. I can’t imagine who decided it made sense to have an indie-rock band (with admittedly loud guitars) warm up a Metallica crowd, but the L.A. quartet is holding its own, and is even ballsy enough to try out some new stuff. They’re followed by some Guitar Hero nerds who totally kill “Fuel,” and then it’s time for the heavy-metal madness, which includes 90 minutes of some of the best live music I’ve ever heard. I know that with Jane’s Addiction, Third Eye Blind, and now Metallica, I’ve turned this into Throwback South By, but I’m having no regrets as this extremely violent pit churns right next to me to the sounds of “Blackened,” “Master Of Puppets,” “Seek And Destroy,” and oh so many other great songs. “One” ends up being my favorite, turning me into one of those douchebags who holds up his phone so his best friend back home can hear how much fun he’s not having with me.
It’s sort of pointless to try to keep up this momentum, so I figure I’ll end my night with some Polyvinyl-approved indie rock at the Habana Calle 6 Patio. My feet are basically broken at this point, so I listen to Headlights sitting down next to a bunch of people whose dogs are barking as loud as mine, and then stand to barely see miniature Yuki Chikudate and her Asobi Seksu boys. The pretty wall of noise sounds good, but Chikudate really needs to tone down the falsetto, which keeps moving closer and closer to Wing territory. Which, if they were doing insane AC/DC and Elvis covers, might work, but here it’s a distraction. End of set, fifth piece of pizza of the week consumed, and I’m out.