At the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, obvious musical agitators like Rage Against the Machine raged against ... well, the political machine. Makes sense. At this week's RNC in Cleveland, however, an unlikely protest act emerged: '90s pop-rockers Third Eye Blind.
The "Semi-Charmed Life" hitmakers arrived Tuesday at the carnival of hate, flags, and in-your-face bumperstickers to play a charity gig sponsored by the Recording Industry Association of America and AT&T. The band was expected to perform "several pro-America anthems for the RNC-friendly audience in attendance" at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland.com reports.
Not the case!
Frontman Stephan Jenkins — who was "clearly anti-Donald Trump," Cleveland.com notes — repeatedly goaded the crowd, peppering the set with denouncments of concervative views. What's more, Third Eye Blind skimped on the hits (and, ideology aside, nobody attends a 2016 3EB show to hear deep cuts). Jenkins did offer one hit, 1998's "Jumper," a song inspired by the suicide of a gay friend. Watch his LGBTQ-advocating prologue below.
The political shit-stirring combined with the absence of nostalgic bangers reportedly infuriated the crowd.
“Raise your hand if you believe in science!” Jenkins teased the frothing GOPers, which was met with a volley of boos. "You can boo all you want, but I'm the motherfucking artist up here."
Third Eye Blind took to social media afterward to defend their hook-laden activism.
@hunterw Great question. We were not, as musicians on call were well aware of who we are and our take on things (like science and rights!)— Third Eye Blind (@ThirdEyeBlind) July 20, 2016
Update: Third Eye Blind issued the following statement late Wednesday.
We did not play an RNC event. We performed at a benefit for Musicians on Call because we support their mission in bringing music to the bedsides of patients in hospitals.
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 nominee.
–Science is science.
–Coal is not clean.
–Black Lives Matter.
–LGBTQ = equal.
–Separation of church and state (still a good idea)
We could go on.
We have Republican friends, family members, and fans, and we love them all. What we reject is what their party has come to stand for. But in keeping with Musicians on Call’s message, we believe in the gathering power of music. With that spirit we don’t step back from our audience wherever or whomever they are.
Warmly, your friends in 3eb.