Like teen-pop, mainstream rock is consistently critic-proof, existing outside of any “cool” hipster mentality or any artist’s desire to break new ground. In that sense, 3 Doors Down — still on the road promoting last year’s “Seventeen Days” (Universal) — put on a successful show. On the way out, a young concertgoer proclaimed them “flawless,” adding, “Now I can die happy.” Even within the context of the genre, however, 3 Doors Down’s show feels flimsy.
Fireworks, video montages and a giant, industrial set all are just a reminder that the band’s music is no better than what can be found in most dive bars across America; 3 Doors Down just made the formula a multiplatinum success.
That formula — a chugging, muddled guitar lick and you-can-do-it-too lyrics — found the band’s “Kryptonite” becoming a 9/11 anthem and the recent “When I’m Gone,” with its support-the-troops video, a rallying cry for the Iraq war.
But live, both felt empty. Perhaps that was because the band was playing to a half-full room; not helping were the choreographed moves during “When I’m Gone,” which led guitarist Matt Roberts to the top of the stage to pose in a spotlight — with a graphic of the American flag projected behind him. There’s not much purpose to the band’s never-ending poses; it’s as if they took a course called “Rock Moves 101” and are still trying to work out the foot-on-the-monitor kinks.
None of this would be a problem if the band’s songs (or even their personas) were a bit interesting. The best that can be said about 3 Doors Down is that they’re consistently predictable, blasting out dullish rock to fans who couldn’t care less what the flavor of the month is.
Openers Shinedown are a young Florida band who also fit squarely into the mainstream modern-rock mold, with riff-heavy guitar blasts that leave room to showcase singer Brent Smith’s Chris Cornell-ish voice.
They’re living in a time warp, but if it were 1991, they’d have the chance to be superstars: The foursome must have studied Alice in Chains’ first few albums and decided to emulate. “Save Me,” from their new “Us And Them” (Atlantic) is a suitably catchy song that’s garnering their first mainstream attention; there’s no room for subtlety in their chunky, propulsive sound, but if there’s a grunge revival, they’d be among the first in line for a hit.