Originally created 11/15/02

3 Doors Down needs to find a new direction

After an evening with 3 Doors Down, it's easy to understand why rock's in a hard place.

The band, which rose to fame in 2000 with the quirky pop-rock single Kryptonite, opened its North American tour Saturday at Fort Gordon. Sadly, it was a coming-out party that never quite started.

The evening's proceedings began with a (mercifully) short set by the Myrtle Beach band Echo 7. What the world needs now (other than love, sweet love) is one fewer band with a number in its name and guitars that go chunka-chunka-chunka. My suggestion is that we start with Echo 7.

Muddy and uninspired, the band's set featured an undistinguished wall of white guitar noise occasionally punctuated by a sloppy guitar solo or some cheesy banter. A word of advice, Echo 7, if you are going to go out on the risky limb of asking a crowd if it's ready to rock, you had better be able to deliver.

After a brief sentence with Echo 7, the crowd welcomed 3 Doors Down to the stage. Now, 3 Doors Down is not a bad band. It seems to be at least modestly talented, well-meaning and earnest in its desire to entertain. But the band carries a burden, a burden that will weaken any act and eventually cast it onto the "not quite" pile.

The songs, at best, are ordinary.

Example - Not Be Forgotten, a 9-11 song left off the band's new album. Hindered by clumsy rhetoric, the song never quite becomes the revenge song lead singer Brad Arnold claims it is. Instead, it seems awkward and immature, with lines such as, "My book says take one eye for an eye" sounding less like heartfelt lyrics than something he heard in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

The real problem, however, seems to be a lack of artistic direction. After two albums and who knows how many live appearances, 3 Doors Down still seems to be a band in search of identity. Are they, for instance, the power-poppers who won a fan base with big Kryptonite hooks, or a bar band with a few lucky breaks and far too many Foreigner records in its collection?

The latter, sadly, is probably closest to the truth.

The power ballads and lonely boy blues that filled a thousand arenas 20 years ago seem to be 3 Doors Down's new thing. And while every guy with a guitar longs to rock the house stadium-style, given the current musical climate, embracing the inner Toto seems a poor way of going about it. Unfortunately, that probably means 3 Doors Down has punched its own ticket on the express bus to obscurity.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.


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