LEWISTON – In 1997, you were supposed to hate your life, and express suspicion toward any of your neighbors who might’ve felt differently.
This was the recipe for nu-metal, post-alternative, or whatever the folks eager to sell it were anxious to call it.
What did it have to do with the natural evolution of rock music? Not much. It was more about making tattoos and dark clothes and eyeliner sell-able to Middle America.
One of those latter-90s bands, Three Days Grace, performed an energetic and well-received set at Artpark on Wednesday. Tight, on point, and certainly full of vigor, the band put on a great show while simultaneously underscoring the cultural emptiness of their chosen idiom.
This is music premised on the idea that life is awful and everything sucks. The fact that everything doesn’t – coupled with the fact that de-tuned guitar riffs are not always awesome, unless they are able to find new twists on old tropes – aided in Three Days Grace’s downfall.
Yeah, they delivered the goods. But the goods they were delivering? Yesterday’s papers. Unless you felt particularly nostalgic for the late 90s, when bands like Korn and Creed ruled, you might’ve looked askance at Three Days Grace’s set. It was strong. But strength isn’t everything.
Three Days Grace formed right around the time that Nirvana was exploding, which might’ve spelled bad luck for budding metal heads, save for the fact that Pearl Jam came along to show metal dudes how to represent while still making music that might make sense to the record-buying public. Pearl Jam moved on incredible quickly by abandoning the stylistic detritus of the past, but others weren’t so lucky. Three Days Grace was one of these bands, stuck in between metal’s heyday and alternative rock’s ascendancy.
In 2015, Three Days Grace is fronted by former My Darkest Days singer Matt Walst, who replaced founding member Adam Gontier a few years back. Walst has made the transition a seamless one. Throughout Wednesday’s show, he walked the tightrope between trash and emo-laden metal. The crowd loved it. The more discerning listener might’ve found it all a bit formulaic.
Three Days Grace has a new album out, called “Human”, a collection stuffed with the sort of generic alt-metal that makes radio programmers squirm with delight and makes the rest of us deeply suspicious.
Much of the new album was aired on Wednesday, and the band played it all impeccably, be it mildly techno-informed opener “I Am Machine,” the Gary Glitter-stamped stomp-along “Just Like You,” or the almost-but-not-quite metal anthem “Painkiller.”
Throughput, the band was super tight and energetic. However, Three Days Grace seems to have very little to offer in terms of originality.
Tearing apart the sort of music that Three Days Grace trades in is a fruitless endeavor. The band lacks originality, comes across as a pre-scripted attempt at melding alternative music and bonehead metal, and shamelessly indulges in tropes associated with much less muscular and supposedly edgy music.
No matter. On Wednesday, a few thousand people at Artpark ate it all up. If the band’s fans were happy, then this was a good show. I hope no one in attendance took the band’s lyrics to heart, however. Life actually isn’t awful. Difficult, yes. But awful? No.