Sunday, March 04, 2007


This band is hugely popular, and they suck. As usual, the group missed any opportunity to prove its detractors wrong when they played over the weekend. Here's my take, more or less as published in the Tribune:

Last year, Nickelback sold over three million copies of its album "All the Right Reasons," making it the top selling rock act of 2006 and the third highest selling artist overall. Yet "All the Right Reasons" was released not in 2006 but back in 2005. It just keeps selling. And selling. And selling.

No surprise, then, that Nickelback easily packed the Allstate Arena Friday night. Top selling bands tend to do that. More mysterious is what keeps drawing people to this most pedestrian of hard rock bands. Maybe it's not a mystery after all. Candlebox. Creed. Every few years the critics get their multi-platinum punching bag, and every few years the critics are ignored or dismissed. Rock fans aren't picking up the new Arcade Fire or the new Hold Steady, at least not in large numbers. They're picking up the old Nickelback.

Inside the arena, it could have been 1986 or 2026 as Nickelback plodded through its smug parade of unremarkable lunk-rock, each song's biggest distinction little more than its lack of distinction. But songs such as the hackneyed "Photograph," the hooky "How You Remind Me" and the hilariously banal "If Everyone Cared" proved the mundane and mediocre could still be timeless. It was prehistoric caveman rock right down to the ancient, fossilized ur-riffs, ready to be recycled by the next risible band down the line.

The hits came easily - effortlessly, even - for Nickelback, and the fans clearly loved the equal lack of pretense and progression (not to mention the perfunctory pyrotechnics, canned banter and drum solo). Indeed, to their credit the band didn't bother disguising its lack of ambition Friday night. At one point, they wielded hand held air cannons that fired t-shirts into the crowd, an apt metaphor that neatly summed up both the band's modus operandi and its broad appeal.


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