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Puddle of Mudd

Puddle of Mudd -- which formed in L.A. in 1999 after Fred Durst heard Kansas City-based vocalist Wes Scantlin's demo tape -- aims for a straight-ahead, no frills hard-rock sound, with memorable sing-along choruses and compact guitar solos. The quartet ends up sounding -- and looking -- very much like Nirvana if Kurt Cobain had been a rock star.

Puddle of Mudd — which formed in L.A. in 1999 after Fred Durst heard Kansas City-based vocalist Wes Scantlin’s demo tape — aims for a straight-ahead, no frills hard-rock sound, with memorable sing-along choruses and compact guitar solos. The quartet, though, ends up sounding — and looking — very much like Nirvana if Kurt Cobain had actually wanted to be a rock star.

Scantlin’s physical resemblance to Cobain can be forgiven, but his repeated aping of Cobain’s vocal style and mannerisms grew increasingly annoying as this 70-minute show unfolded. Add to that drummer Greg Upchurch’s Dave Grohl-inspired fills and pounding and you’re only a couple steps away from full-on imitation.

PoM hit platinum paydirt with its 2001 Flawless/Geffen debut “Come Clean,” an album brimming with catchy dumb-rock anthems. The follow-up album “Life on Display,” due Nov. 25, however, plays like a tired retread of that first album.

Band smartly opened its set with a string of tracks from its first album, such as radio hit “Drift & Die” and “Basement,” during which Scantlin jumped into the pit and sang for the first couple rows of screaming fans. But the unashamed Nirvana flavor of the four new songs offered during the show’s second half killed much of the perf’s early momentum.

The bluesy “Nothing Left to Lose” sounded more like a bad Sunset Strip hair band circa 1991, while the generic “Already Gone” sported these unfortunate lyrics: “I wanna sing for the people, I’m gonna hide from the needle, I’m gonna run from addiction, I’m gonna dance with the devil, yeah!”

Current single “Away From Me” was the best of the new bunch, and sported an undeniably strong chorus and the most interesting arrangement of the 12 songs offered. Follow-up “She Hates Me” — the most popular track on “Come Clean” — provided the set’s most exciting moment, as singer-guitarist Scantlin delivered the song while perched on one of the venue’s opera boxes.

The encore of “Control” (also from the first album) started well, but segued for no particular reason into the Black Sabbath anthem “War Pigs,” making for an unsuccessful pairing of the generic and the classic.

Puddle of Mudd

Avalon; 1,200 capacity; $22

  • Production: Presented by Verizon Wireless, MTV and Clear Channel. Reviewed Nov. 14, 2003.
  • Cast: <b>Band:</b> Wes Scantlin, Paul Phillip, Doug Ardito, Greg Upchurch.<br><B>Also appearing:</B> Lo-Pro.