Hootie Visits House of Blues With Predictable Set

Oscar Wilde once observed that someone who's normal is someone you don't know very well, but Hootie & the Blowfish is very well-known as the epitome of normal. Singer Darius Rucker's perpetual baseball cap, T-shirt and baggy jeans are almost an antithesis uniform to the world of tattoos and piercings.

At the House of Blues on Friday, the second stop on a tour promoting the band's third album, "Musical Chairs," even the living room stage motif, complete with table lamps, screamed normal, as did the nonchalant manner in which the band took the stage, resembling any of the hundreds of bands playing college clubs across America rather than one that now owns four corporations.

Competent but never great (hired hand Peter Holsapple often seemed the group's musical glue), the set frequently lacked momentum. Even the audience seemed awfully subdued for one watching the band with the second-biggest-selling debut album in history, although there was genuine enthusiasm for such big hits as "Hold Your Hand."

The South Carolina outfit does have its own sound, whether playing grunge-lite ("Be the One"), pseudo-bluegrass ("Desert Mountain Showdown"), pleasant pop ("I Will Wait," the new single and the evening's highlight), or outside material both predictable (Led Zeppelin's "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do") and strange (Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song"). They're such nice, normal guys, that you tend to respect them, but after two hours, a guest appearance by someone a little abnormal would have been welcome.

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