The Night The Buzz Stole XXXMas

Meredith Schneider

photo by Jade Park

The most notable radio station for introducing the world to new alternative music in the midwest is, hands down, 96.5 The Buzz. Broadcasting from close to the state line between Kansas and Missouri, The Buzz serves as a platform for alternative and indie bands – though, at present, due to the sound shift in current music, they still waver heavily on the line that separates those categories from pop – to bring their new work to the world. Of course, they cover an array of popular music as well, which makes them one of the most loved stations in the midwest.

All of this being said, they had the chutzpah to host not one, not three, but FOUR “The Night The Buzz Stole XMas” shows in 2016, a lineup which started December 7th and continued through December 15th, 16th, and 17th. “Night 3: The Night The Buzz Stole XXXMas” may be named like a porn film, but brought in easily the best lineup of the four shows. Acts included Night Riots, Judah & The Lion, The Strumbellas, and Third Eye Blind.

As impressive as Night Riots and The Strumbellas are – and they are every single time they hit the stage in Kansas City, at the very least – we were floored by the performances from Judah & The Lion and Third Eye Blind in particular. Having seen both several times previously, it’s hard to completely put your finger on what makes them so extravagant.

Is it the way that Judah & his lions make their grand entrance? Is it how they like to serenade us with The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside”? What about their incredible rendition of T. Pain’s “Booty Wurk”? (It must be the moves. Those boys – forgive us for being surprised – can shake it!) Is it the sheer energy that the Nashville-born band brings to the stage? We’re guessing it’s a combination of all of the above, but as we become more familiar with their music catalog, we find ourselves increasingly drawn to their performance tactics. If you haven’t had a chance to see them, seek them out in 2017. We’re sure there’s some insanity to come.

And then there’s the modern conundrum that is Third Eye Blind. As we have tracked them from their earlier years, we have found their stage presence increasingly bizarre. We aren’t the only ones, as we read droves of reviews about Stephen Jenkins’ behavior beforehand. Coming out on stage covered head to tow in black so that no one can see you? Interesting. Perhaps it’s being used as a draw for the fans. Eventually, of course, he had to reveal his face and we were happy for the fact that at least we knew it wasn’t someone posing as him on stage.

But when you’re at a Third Eye Blind show, the energy is there. And his voice is raw and different every time, so there’s no guesswork that he’s the man behind the mask. Even if his outfit serves as a message to the modern world – which we have no doubt that it does – the music is still transforming in its diction. As we wove through some of the hits – “How It’s Going to Be”, “Losing a Whole Year”, the lesser-performed “Jumper”, through to “Semi-Charmed Life” – we were increasingly happy we didn’t have to murk through the uncomfortable lyrics of “Deep Inside of You” as we danced in droves of multi-generational crowds. Their new music – if you’re wondering – is just as catchy and remarkable as that which they blessed us with in the 90’s, so we left the show wondering why we haven’t been as well-ensconced in their music catalogue.

For more upcoming shows from The Buzz, check out 965thebuzz.com.

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