3 Doors Down @ The Fox Theater, Visalia CA 01/15/14

I went into this show not as a fan of 3 Doors Down, but more as a casual listener that was looking for an entertaining night of live music. Initially, my interest in the group didn’t go too far beyond their first couple of hit singles, “Kryptonite” and “Loser.” It wasn’t until I found out there was a connection to RUSH that I took the group more seriously. I remember it was my college years and I first heard “Loser” on KROQ. There’s that crunchy riff and head banging jam at the 2:30 mark that was very Rush sounding. It was a cool segue into the softer guitar work leading to the next chorus. I thought to myself “Hah, these fools are trying to sound like RUSH.” The jam was a doubled part, very much like how Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee would double their parts on some of the more muscular RUSH songs. Little did I know that it was Alex Lifeson, the man himself, who would produce the next 3 Doors Down album, Away From the Sun. I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, there’s more to these guys than “Kryptonite” and “Loser.”

So now here I was at The Fox, out to show support to this group and to the Visalia Rescue Mission (it was a benefit show in part), and I was squeezed in between a couple kids who were there with their parents. The boy, around 12 years old, was an obvious fan, his squeaky voice joyously singing along to the material. On the other side of me was a girl around the same age, however she had already fallen asleep and slumped over, her head resting on her mom’s shoulder. It was so hot up in the balcony area, humid too. Luckily the air kicked on and the area became comfortable. The Fox was PACKED. Not a single empty seat, and a banner out front read SOLD OUT. It was very cool seeing this kind of support for a group that I largely ignored after 2001. After “Be Like That,” a very appreciative Brad Arnold praised the audience for selling out the show and said rather tongue-in-cheek “Thank you, friends. By the grace of God we get to be rock stars” and then he quickly corrected himself and admitted “nooo we’re not rock stars, we’re just a bunch of ol’ rednecks that get to play music for a livin.” The crowd cheered, connecting with the small town, country-boy humility of Arnold and the band. This was a laid back gig, informal and very festive. It was as if the group was putting on a private performance in one of their own homes for a handful of friends. The stage setup was modeled to resemble a basement with large area rugs, 4 sofas, and one lone, naked light bulb suspended from the rafters and right above Arnold’s head. Some VIPs were seated on the two sofas at stage left. Those fans quietly sat, grooved and enjoyed the performance from only a few feet away.

There was plenty of talk from Arnold, who playfully chatted with the crowd about his personal experiences growing up in rural Mississippi as well as the group’s adventures on tour. After “Away From the Sun,” Arnold exclaimed ‘I had the best chili dog today!’ and the crowd cheered, knowing full well that Arnold was talking about Taylor Bros. Hot Dogs down the street. Later on and on a more sentimental note, Arnold praised the parents in the audience just before the group eased into “When You’re Young,” expressing “thank God for good parents,” adding that this particular song is for the youth, that one particular kid out there that ‘needed’ this song because childhood is so difficult. Relating to this song, Arnold added that the group recently played a European festival in Hungary or Austria, and there was a kid in the audience who belted out the lyrics to “When You’re Young” and was moved to tears. Arnold said “that’s what music’s about…it’s not about being Britney Spears or being chased around by the paparazzi, it’s about reaching people,” as the crowd cheered in approval and recognition. On a funnier note, Drummer Greg Upchurch had a rabid fan in the audience. A girl on three occasions shouted “I LOOOVE THE DRUMMERRR!!!” It was a very fun night, and it supported a noble cause as well. About the acoustic format, the music of this group was actually better suited to the acoustic arrangements. Why? Because the songs are actually pretty good stripped down, and the distorted guitar parts of the studio originals almost mask the songs and hide their natural beauty. Take away the distortion and overdrive and the songs glisten in a way that they didn’t before. There were a few occasions when I got the shivers because of that. Further altering the arrangements, Upchurch used a cajon to pound out the rhythms to “Loser” and “Kryptonite,” which worked to great effect. A typical “unplugged” percussion instrument for a drummer would be a pair of congas to accompany the songs. Instead, Upchurch threw a curveball by using a cajon, a wooden box looking instrument that the player sits on and pounds out rhythms with the hands or by rocking the cajon back and forth. The band played well and Arnold’s baritone was in great form. Great tour and great performance, I’m very glad I caught this show.

Father’s Son
Let Me Be Myself
Be Like That
Not Enough
Away From the Sun
Let Me Go
The Road I’m On
Here By Me
When You’re Young
The Real Life
It’s Not My Time
Duck and Run
Here Without You
When I’m Gone

The songs sounded GREAT in the unplugged format. Drummer Greg Upchurch used a cajon on “Loser” and “Kryptonite” to great effect. It was impressive watching him recreate those drum parts on a wooden box without losing any of that thump.



Posted on January 18, 2014, in 3 Doors Down, Concerts: 2012 - Present and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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