Saturday with Stephan: The Closest Thing to Magic
This week’s Saturday with Stephan isn’t one specific moment meeting him. It’s not even specifically about the act of meeting him. Instead, this very special tribute is about everything Stephan has come to mean to his fans and, particularly, one group of fans who spent a powerful weekend in 2016 coming to understand what it truly feels like to walk with your people. This is Nery Diaz’s story, but full disclosure, it’s part of my story, too.
When I asked Nery to tell me her story about meeting Stephan, the first thing she said to me was that instead of wanting to talk about one time she wanted to talk about all the times she’s met him. The first time she met him.
“What I wanted to highlight is that it gets really difficult to talk to him when you're, when it's only the first or the only time you've ever met him, those words are so powerful and have touched you so deeply. What do you say to someone like that? It was very difficult for me to find the strength, the courage or the right words. He writes words that feel like they come from my soul,” Nery said.
The first time she met Stephan was actually the very first Third Eye Blind show she ever went to. When Nery first began listening to the band she lived in Puerto Rico and there weren’t opportunities to see the band play. It wasn’t until she moved to Houston in 2004 that she finally had her chance. She found a Third Eye Blind page on Facebook and saw that they were looking for volunteers. Nery quickly signed up and went to the show, assisting with helping register fans for the website, Assembly. After the show, she had a chance to meet the band. A photo with Tony, a moment with Abe, a conversation with Brad and then it was her turn to meet Stephan. All she could manage was to tell him how much she loved the band.
The second time she met Stephan was after Ursa was released. The boxed set came with a backstage pass. The picture from meeting Stephan? Fantastic. But it was a busy meet and greet and again, Nery didn’t quite find the words, but more opportunities to meet Stephan came Nery’s way.
“I went to Amoeba Records in 2016 and he was playing an acoustic set. After the set, we were able to get our albums purchased at Amoeba signed by Stephan. It was also my first time meeting my now-friend Lucy. I was so emotional watching Lucy be emotional meeting Stephan that I forgot about what I was going to do or say,” she recalled.
But that summer, Nery would not only find the words to tell Stephan just how much his lyrics meant, but she would also come to truly understand just how powerful it all is.
The San Diego show was more than just a show where Nery had splurged on soundcheck and meet and greet tickets. The show was part of a larger "girls trip" with Nery, Maren, Nicole, and Lucy – all of them just barely more than strangers at the start of the adventure -- going together, bonding together as friends and fans and their own special brand of family.
But things didn’t quite go as planned. The ladies were doing some shopping the night before the show when they got an email that the band wouldn't be doing sound check before the show at all. Instead, there would be something special after the show due to mechanical issues with the tour bus.
The something special turned out to be an intimate acoustic session with Stephan after the concert. He sat on the stairs to the stage with his guitar and sang for the small crowd, even taking on the request of singing "Monotov's Private Opera" which moved Maren and Nicole to tears.
It was also finally time for Nery to communicate to Stephan just how deeply she feels about the songs.
“I think the reason that I was finally able, what gave me the strength to communicate with him was a combination of his openness towards us that day. He was very much in the moment, in awe and humble and I wanted to give him something back. But the other part was that I was there with Nicole. I was there with Lucy. I was there with Maren. I was there with Susan, with Tatiana ... I was there with the friends and the family that I had always wanted and needed. And the most important thing I said to Stephan that day was that there was just something about those lyrics and about that music that if you get it and you meet other people that get it it's an instant connection.
And that's what's so important. I think there's some sort of fiber in our souls that when you get it, we're just somehow connected. I really do believe that. I think that maybe we're not literally pieces of each other souls but there is something that ties us together, that we think in the same way or we feel in the same way. It's hard to put a finger on because the more fans I’ve met the more diversity and the more difference, but at the heart and meat of it, there's just something that we get it, we understand each other, we don't have to explain. There's a recognition. It's finally being understood and that's something no one can take away. It's the closest to magic we'll ever have here on earth.”