Listen, and don’t think too deeply

Special to The Times

One great thing about rock ‘n’ roll is the joy of discovery with each generational turnover -- the Beatles, after all, will always be a new band to some inquisitive 12-year-old.

Unfortunately, so will bands like Nickelback, and all the atrocious cliches, lame gimmicks and Spinal Tap-ian ridiculousness these four Canadians revel in -- yet with complete sincerity, which makes them such a hoot.

Their set at the Arrowhead Pond on Thursday was a seemingly endless parade of shtick that anyone born before 1990 has seen a zillion times over: flash pots, fireworks, flames and mind-numbing explosions, done perhaps to distract the crowd from noticing how wretched their music was, or perhaps to compensate for their complete lack of charisma and singer-guitarist Chad Kroeger’s ever-constipated voice.

Indeed, there were so many eye-rolling moments that it’s a wonder the more aurally cultured in the crowd didn’t get vertigo. The only question was, which was more cringe-inducing: Kroeger asking “Why don’t we do one for the ladies?”; Kroeger striking a faux bad-boy pose, alluding to his supposed hard-partying ways by bellowing, “You don’t want me moving in next door, I can tell you that!” (Hmmm ... no kidding); or Kroeger proudly exclaiming “I’m a ... redneck!”? (Dude -- you’re from Canada). Was it Daniel Adair’s extended drum solo, that bane of all arena-rock extravaganzas? Or perhaps the choreographed band-member fist-pumping during their breakout hit, “How You Remind Me?”


They were all dreadful, actually; it’s just too bad Beavis and Butt-head aren’t around anymore to make fun of bands like this. But Nickelback’s music isn’t for critics or the hipster illuminati -- it’s for people who don’t want to have to think. It’s just a big, dumb, loud band to call their very own, something every generation’s had.

Hoobastank, the sonic pride of Agoura Hills, wasn’t all that distinguishable from the three other bands on the bill, though for a power ballad, the group’s 2-year-old smash “The Reason” held up quite well. Still, with a brief stab at “Livin’ on a Prayer,” they pulled off the impossible, making one yearn for the contrasting genius of Bon Jovi.

Chicago’s Chevelle was horrific, all about relentless ear-pummeling delivered via silly, slouchy, hold-the-guitars-by-your-ankles poses that were the nu-metal rage of 1999. And as for Hinder’s lowest-common-denominator act, the less said, the better -- though the group did prove that the Flaming Lips’ title of Greatest Oklahoma City Band Ever is still secure.