I've never understood the Rob Thomas thing. I know the guy has sold something like 100 million records through various projects, and his voice is pleasant enough, but I've always considered the Matchbox 20 singer to be something of a non-entity, as bland and forgettable as his Nascar driver-appropriate double first name. He's supposed to be "sexy," but to me his big, pale, blockhead looks like something you'd find on a guy who'd make a suitable casting choice for Dwight's cousin Mose on The Office. Seriously: Thomas, who headlined the first night of Arizona Fall Frenzy at Tempe Beach Park Friday (read our show review here) could pass for a Shrute.
Here's Cousin Mose:
As it so happens, the record buying public -- or at least he XX-chromosome possessing portion of it -- does not share my opinion on Thomas. Though I was hard-pressed to name one of his big hits not involving Santana ("Jumper" is a Third Eye Blind song, as it turns out) the heavily-female Mix 93 crowd at Tempe Beach Park was obviously anticipating Thomas' set long before Jason Mraz, who proceeded him, was done with his megasmash "I'm Yours."
Honestly, while I do tend to have "critic taste" (yes, I'm even excited for Yo La Tengo next month) there aren't many artists with Diamond-certified albums I can't claim at least a basic appreciation for. Thomas and Matchbox 20 are an exception. So, to figure out what exactly so many people see in Thomas I decided to hang out with my friend Jeanne and her friend Melissa, two of the biggest Thomas fans in town. The pair have traveled as far as The OC to see MB20, paying $90 to sit in the back of an arena where he performed without any qualms.
After spending the show with Jeanne and Melissa, I think I solved the mystery. Yes, the ladies relate to his lyrics and find him attractive but, moreover, they really seem to enjoy the communal excitement of their shared celebrity crush.
"I don't think I'd ever meet him [...] and say 'wow, he's really cute,' he's not exactly my type," said Jeanne. "But he's sexy because he's a musician."
"If I met him I might wet my pants," said Melissa.
"Like, he tends to keep time by tapping his arm to his chest," said Jeanne. "You might say it looks stupid, but I think it's sexy."
The surprising part, to me, was that the ladies passion for Thomas seemed enhanced by the fact that the men in their lives didn't share it. Out of the group J and M came with, only one guy, an acquaintance named Aaron, accompanied his girlfriend. It's worth mentioning that at one point I caught Aaron snapping a photo of Gavin Rossdale, who also performed Friday. When I confronted him, Aaron admitted the photo was taken on his own camera and for his own use.
"I like Bush," he claimed.
I have my doubts.
Much to my chagrin, Paul, Jeanne's boyfriend didn't show up, but, surprisingly, Jeanne didn't mind at all.
"I think he said, 'Fuck no, I'm not going to that shit," recalls Jeanne.
As it turns out, girls don't care if guys like me are Thomas fans. In fact, they sorta seem to prefer it this way.
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"If a guy liked him I might be a little worried," said Melissa.
"Especially if he liked Rob the way we like Rob," said Jeanne.
Point taken. I'm not supposed to "get" Rob Thomas and, if you're a guy, neither are you. From talking to the women I spoke with it appears there's an informal detente: So long as we don't antagonize the ladies with anti-Rob diatribes we're free to ignore him. Works for me.