Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

The Feelies: Those rhythms are still crazy after all these years

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Few bands stay broken up anymore, even those that sucked the first time: Witness the return of Creed and Third Eye Blind.

But like the best of their peers--Mission of Burma, Wire and the Buzzcocks--New Jersey art-punks the Feelies avoided the taint of nostalgia at the Pritzker Pavilion on Monday, their first Chicago show in 18 years.

One reason the quintet's return is so welcome is that it left a lot of unfinished business. After four brilliant albums that paved the way for acolytes such as R.E.M., the Feelies disbanded in 1991--broke, frustrated but far from creatively spent.

More importantly, their sound--a frenetic version of the Bo Diddley/Velvet Underground beat propelled by Bill Million's frantic rhythm guitar and adorned by Glenn Mercer's tubular leads--was always timeless, and it remains as unique and energizing today as it was circa their debut, "Crazy Rhythms" (1980).

The Feelies are set to perform that classic, all jagged edges and jangled nerves, at New York's All Tomorrow's Parties Festival in September. But befitting their return to the Midwest, some of the strongest material Monday came from the more organic follow-up, "The Good Earth" (1986), with songs such as "On the Roof" and "The High Road" evoking long drives through the plains as the rhythm section of bassist Brenda Sauter, drummer Stanley Demeski and percussionist Dave Weckerman rode those inimitable grooves.

Also noteworthy were two aggressive but tuneful new songs, "Nobody Knows" and "Time Is Right," which showed that the Feelies of the new millennium are every bit the band they were two decades ago, and we're lucky to have them back.

What's more, a new generation of fans seems especially eager to lose itself in that Feelies undertow. Through much of the night, the crowd in Millennium Park stayed politely glued to its seats. But the intensity slowly built over the course of a 90-minute set, and as it reached a peak with the one-two punch of "Raised Eyebrows" and "Crazy Rhythms," a lone dancer hurtled toward the stage and started frantically pogoing.

Security moved in to shoo him off, but before they could, swarms of twenty-somethings who were likely seeing the band for the first time suddenly bounded down the aisles, and the mass of perhaps a thousand twitchy, hyperactive and joyful dancers continued to lose themselves in the swirl of "Fa Ce La" and two encores that included covers of the Velvet Underground, R.E.M. and the Rolling Stones.

It definitely was a moment worth waiting almost 20 years for.

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33 Comments

Great description. The gig was unreal. Easily one of the best gigs of the summer...and free, at that!!!

You captured the show for sure - yeah, Away got going too fast, so did Slipping into Something, but Time is Right was one HECK of a great addition - and everyone rushing the stage like most had wanted too the entire night was terrific. Pulling out Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars) was great too. The highlight for me was Higher Ground - even though I waited the whole song for the powerful bass chorus (that was swallowed up by speed again) it's just such a tremendous song - like the band itself.

Now to look online for airfare to New York.

You really need some p---y bad dude.

I've tried to tell you before, Jim, but now I'm going to insist: There are deep, DEEP guilty pleasures to be had from listening to Third Eye Blind.

Seriously.

Take "Semi-Charmed Life." It's a bubblegum song (all of their songs are) with a riff that owes a debt to Slash's from "Black or White." And the power ballads? Fantastic -- if you're looking for the late-'90s equivalent to Meat Loaf.

That doesn't mean anybody should ever go to see their shows or buy their records. I mean, they're a terrible band. But for a completely craptacular product, it sure was fun.

Third Eye Blind never even came close to breaking up. So many writers never do their homework when it comes to creating articles.

Incredible show. Here's the set list I got:

On The Roof
The High Road
Nobody Knows (I assume that's the other new one Jim's referring to--I couldn't figure out what it was!)
Let's Go
Deep Fascination
Higher Ground
The Final Word
Time is Right
Away
Slipping (Into Something)
Doin' It Again
Too Far Gone
Raised Eyebrows
Crazy Rhythms

Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars) @cover[R.E.M.]
Fa Ce-La
What Goes On @cover[The Velvet Underground]

Paint It Black @cover [The Rolling Stones]

I was really blown away by the show. I wasn't even alive when Crazy Rhythms came out but I can't believe that they sounded any better in 1980 than they did last night. A huge spontaneous dance circle broke out where we were sitting on the lawn and kept up pretty much the whole show. Not to judge a book by its cover but most of the dancers were teenagers that I really doubt had ever heard the Feelies before. Just goes to show they should have been huge!

My blog and photos from last night's Feelies concert are up at: http://tr.im/qjTY. Photos are also on flickr: http://tr.im/qjT0. It was a great show! Speaking of teenage Feelies fans, I was impressed by the kids sitting next to me, who knew which album each songs was from.

Great show. I saw 'em last in '86 in Minneapolis ... I, too, have had kids in the intervening years. Loved seeing the old-timers as well as the youngers who have turned on to the legend of the Feelies. Truly a transcendent show; there are now a lot of people looking forward to a new album.

Um.. Third Eye Blind never broke up. Don't make an insult when you have no clue what you're talking about.

The only thing that's craptastic is this article about a crappy band that nobody outside of a small group of hardcore fans has heard about. Dump on America's most requested college performer in Third Eye Blind, who, never broke up by the way. I would recommend checking facts first.

Third Eye Blind is a fantastic band, I doubt you've ever listened to more than semi-charmed life and jumper, because if you have you would have more respect for them. Oh and as its already been pointed out, they never broke up, aren't people like you supposed to check facts?? Yet another journalist incapable of simple fact checking. I challenge you to listen fully to their album Blue or their self titled, and tell me they suck.

Interesting to hear that Third Eye Blind broke up - seeing as that they never did.

Some bands never die or fade - unlike aging hacks such as yourself or journalism in general.

I hope your next job at Blockbuster is a better fit.

Jim, you're a moron. A band isn't broken up if they don't put out an album for 5 years. They stilled toured, wrote songs, etc. Just cuz you're a lazy asshole who got called out for being wrong doesn't mean you should dump on a band who you know nothing about and obviously haven't taken more than 5 minutes to listen to. And Brendan, what music do you like that you can say third eye blind is terrible? Dumbass

Brendan D,

To say that ALL 3eb songs are 'Bubble gum' music really shows that you have only ever heard what... 3 of their songs. If you had listened to more songs than Semi-Charmed Life and Never Let You Go, I'm sure you wouldn't be making those comments in the first place. It is those other songs that have created the 3eb fan base, not the singles (the ones that you have heard). If you want to stick to your original statements then I would like you to explain how songs like:
- 1000 Julys
- Darkness
- Can You Take Me
- Slow Motion
- Thanks A Lot
- Motorcycle drive By
- God of Wine

(The list goes on and on) Are bubblegum music.

Jim, I have read too many articles with false information. This is just another one for the list. How many Third Eye Blind songs have you actually listened to? If you haven't listened to all (or a large portion), I cant see how you can say they suck. Comparing them to Creed is pathetic.

Give me proof of why Third Eye Blind sucks-- maybe then you can keep a simple shred of dignity. If you utilize words as a profession, you better use them well. Insults aren't respectable. Especially unnecessary ones. A good writer can make a point without insulting anyone. Seeing as you failed at the simplest task, I do believe you failed as a writer, sir. I hope we've all learned something here.

1.Third Eye Blind has finished there next album Ursa Major and it will be available 8/18/09.

2.I understand it is difficult for people such as you, Jim, and Brandon D. to accept greatness when you hear it… I feel bad for you.

3.If you ever compare Third Eye Blind to Creed again you will certainly have another Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King Controversy.

4.Why don’t you stick to copying tapes for R. Kelly.

Is this a joke? What credentials do you have to be writing about music? Third Eye Blind never broke up and they are one of the most (if not the most) talented group of musicians still churning out music. Comparing them to Creed is ridiculous to say the VERY least. I strongly suggest you listed to s/t or Out Of The Vein. You probably have only heard Semi Charmed Life, Never let You Go and Jumper. Man are you missing out. I feel bad for you :)

I will concede and say that I have a small amount of respect for you. You posted all of these angry comments, and I respect you for that. I suggest listening to Third Eye Blind, just like the others, but listen with an open mind, and focus your energy on the lyrics.

I think this Blogger - Mr. Jim has taken enough abuse from Third Eye Blind Fans. We are now insulting him, yet are being critical of him insulting Third Eye Blind. Hey, different strokes for different folks - he doesn't have to like Third Eye Blind.

That said Mr. Jim - you really should explore some of their other work, beyond their radio hits. I loved the radio stuff..but some of their best is below - you should check out it out:

Motorcycle Driveby
1000 Julys
Wounded
Ten Days Late
Darkness
Faster
Crystal Baller

And new album (August 18th):
Don't believe a Word
Bonfire
Sharp Knife
Can You Take Me

And..you should really take 2 hours out of your life, and see them in concert - I'll buy your ticket. I think you'd enjoy yourself.

(Getting the personal attack out on this inept writer first before I delve into the argument, otherwise it's going to be on my mind during this entire rant)

I will rarely take ANY, let alone MUSICAL criticism/advice from someone who looks like they haven't messed around with too many females over the age of 14. (And your photo absolutely screams "douchebag"...which, after reading your post, apparently was an appropriate choice on your part.)
----------
I'm not going to go into detail about why Third Eye Blind can wipe its ass with 95% of the music that's out there (The Feelies included), or the easily obtainable fact that they never broke up (You idiot. Do some research, even if minimal, before stating these misinformed claims. It truly made you look stupid.) Third Eye Blind is a heavily lyric-based band, and I'm 100% positive that you fall under that category of people who are not capable of understanding even the ONE song that you listened to by them. (Which I know for a fact was "Semi-Charmed Life" for you.) Again, I'm not going to go any further than this with Third Eye Blind, the above posters already gave you a perfect explanation of the ridiculously easy procedure that you SHOULD have gone through for your job before making such stupid claims.

I actually did what I'm sure most of these disgruntled posters didn't do: I went and listened to all of the songs that you typed about in this article.

And I found out something that you missed from doing this little bit of research: This band...wait for it...ISN'T...good.

Their vocals are nothing more than sub-par, and their instrumental sections are just...boring. A few of these songs that I listened to from their set were repetitive, which leads me to believe that the ones that DIDN'T make their set list sound the same as the others, too.

"Nobody Knows" and "Time is Right" are both AGGRESSIVE songs? You could have fooled me. Hell, you could have fooled me that they were even two DIFFERENT songs, because they both sounded the same. "Nobody Knows" sounds exactly like an acoustic version of "Time is Right". They both have different (but by no means good) lyrics that any talentless pop icon could have come up with, but that is the only variation I see in these songs. In fact, you made ANOTHER error in your article: This band never actually broke up. You want to know what happened to them after '91? They became Blink-182. That's right, your washed up band is no different than the same meaningless, repetitive crap that is Blink-182. And what's even worse is that your band formed in the 80s, during the whole ERA of terrible music. A lame band during a lame musical time period...

Actually, I should be THANKFUL that I read this article. Because now that I'm reflecting on the subject, I feel relieved that I've only had to wait 6 years to get a new album from such a great, underrated band, when there's suckers like you that sat around (literally, apparently) for 20 years for this pile of trash.

Wow, Jim, looks like you're offhand remark about Third Eye Blind really came back to bite you in the ass. Next time don't be such a prick.

dude just hates music.
he thinks if a band doesn't have any songs on the top 40 that they aren't good.
truth is, most of the top 40 is s----y music, if you can even call it music

jim,

you really flubbed this one. your personal appearance, like it or not, does indeed indicate that you are probably completely out of touch with pop culture, as you appear slovenly and ignorant in your photo. Generally people that look like you are excluded from "pop-culture"--which should come as no suprise to you.

I wil forgive all of this, but to post blatant misinformation about a legendary band such as 3eb is silly and, as pointed out previously, it just makes you look like a big, fat, and tasteless pile of slop that can't even check his facts even though he is a "writer" for the Chicago Sun-Times.

I won't defend 3eb's music--it defends itself if you listen.

Here's the deal. I'll make this quite simple.

Don't blame Creed for it's s----y lead singer. The rest of the band could play circles around most musicians in that genre of music today. Go listen to Nickelback, then listen to Creed. Which one sucks more? Exactly. Nickelback is the complete package of suck, Creed just has one shitty member. Alter Bridge, anyone?

And now on to the real point: Third Eye Blind.

Ever listened to one of their albums? Hell, have any of the people who agreed with you in comments listened to any of their albums? Bumble-gum pop? Never Let You Go is about the only pop-like song they've ever written. If that's what you call pop music, then you clearly know very little/nothing about music in general. Next you'll tell me Megadeth is pop, and Backstreet Boys are straight-up hip hop stars.

3eb never broke up, never stopped playing shows to sold out crowds, and never stopped actually connecting to their fans in some way. That's why we're all here, telling you that you really need to actually LISTEN to the music you take shots at. It's not nice to follow trends and just bash bands because you saw other people do it.

What you need is a sharp knife, son...

More like the feces.

Jim DeRogatis, I just got off the phone with the circus. They want their clown back.

Cat got the writer's tongue? Where'd Jim go?

Third Eye Blind is a fantastic band, I doubt you've ever listened PowerBall to more than semi-charmed life and jumper, because if you have you would have more respect for them.

you are an ugly man jim. and ugly ugly man. and i think the only person who would give you a job as the music writter for the chicago times is your mother. and thats only to get you to move out of her house.

p.s. you suck

It's so easy to bash a band you know nothing about. Long live 3eb!

Thank you, Jim, for exposing the salient fact: Feelies >>>>>>>>>>>> Third Eye Blind, that Zoroastrian glam band from Drivel-Upon-Tyne, East Lancashire.

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