Seventeen Days,” 3 Doors Down’s new Universal/Republic album, debuted at the top of the charts, but it would have been hard to guess that from their performance at the Wiltern Theater Wednesday night. They played to an indifferent aud in a theater only two-thirds filled, and their 50-minute set was received more like a support act than the headliner. (The two-song encore that brought the show to just under an hour felt obligatory.) The only aspect of the show that clued one in to their multiplatinum status was the expensive-looking industrial stage set — but that was a poor choice. With its huge gears and gunmetal ramps, it only served as a reminder that the Mississippi band plays music that sounds factory made.
It’s hard to imagine a band with less personality than 3 Doors Down. They’re a Republican’s idea of what a rock band should be (a notion reinforced by their appearance at one of President Bush’s inauguration balls). The fast songs feature the distorted guitars of ’90s grunge but without all their messy angst and dissatisfaction. Slower numbers such as “Kryptonite” or the current single “Let Me Go” are cookie-cutter power ballads. They sell a kind of faux rebelliousness: “Duck and Run” may grind like alt-rock, but the lyrics (“I won’t turn away/And I won’t duck and run/Cause I’m not built that way”) read like GOP talking points.
As a singer, Brad Arnold adds little to the band’s generic impression, but there is probably not a front man out there so relentlessly on message. He introduces the songs as “my favorite,” or the first, second or next single; if he has nothing else to say, his default comment is to call the song “really cool.” But except for Arnold and drummer Greg Upchurch, band plays with the bored indifference of clock-punching workers waiting for the 5 p.m. whistle. Upchurch plays with a strenuous energy, but then he’s been with the band for only a few weeks, so his enthusiasm could be ascribed to his status as the new guy.