Fact: There is a fertile market for formulaic, overproduced pseudo-rock.
The music’s intent, direction or emptiness doesn’t matter. The underlying (or overt) message of any track will be glossed over with the wail of amplified Fender chords, and all of the aforementioned is perpetually secondary to a song’s ability to get fists, fingers or frosty cups in the air.
This fact was verified by Thursday night’s Buffalo performance by Nickelback protégés, Theory of a Deadman.
Armed with its arsenal of brooding rock, breakup cuts, and just enough slide-guitar forays for the new-country set, the quartet didn’t have to break any new artistic ground to thrill its nodding disciples throughout its Canalside Live slot.
Since initially signing to Nickelback architect Chad Kroeger’s 604 Records in 2001, the British Columbia-born Theory’s trajectory, sound and fandom has mirrored its Kroeger-steered Canadian contemporaries. Close your eyes and listen to a sexually explicit song like “Bad Girlfriend” and you’d have a tough time telling the two bands apart—and that’s just fine for fans of both. Repetitious guitars, thunderous drums, and dramatic lyrical deliveries—seemingly meant to be performed amid billowing smoke or in the eye of a hurricane—are the order of the pair.
And if this is your ideal live demand, then there was plenty to love throughout the Juno-winning band’s 18-song set off the Buffalo River.
The Tyler Connolly-led act—whose sixth album, “Wake Up Call,” is due out in October—got things started with the pop-country construct of hit “Lowlife." Packed with big drums, guitars and bass from Joey Dandeneau, Dave Brenner, Connolly and Dean Back, the song’s instrumentation, imagery and slide chords seemed as appropriate for a Florida Georgia Line album—and that didn’t seem accidental.
Offerings like “Out of My Hair” followed the same formula: rock enough for the black T-shirt crowd, but swaying and twangy enough for those who pack their Chevy cabs for Jam in the Valley.
But despite this split affiliation, the band’s stock and trade is the elongated guitar chords, kick-drum-driven adventures, and the peanut butter-mouthed vocals popularized by the invention of the word “grunge.” Behind Connolly, the band delivered these components and more with the swirling “Hurricane,” the snarling “Hate My Life,” and more.
Before the headliner, early arrivals were introduced to the millennial emo-punk of Kill the Clock. The young Buffalo quartet delivered a fiery brand of guitar-driven originals, with EP cuts like "Withered" and "Red Flower" revealing a tight act with plenty of drive.
But with covers of Motörhead ("Ace of Spades") and early Goo Goo Dolls ("There You Are"), they showed reverence, appreciative of cuts crafted before they entered kindergarten.