3 Doors Down
Songwriter and frontman Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down is apparently enamored of his work. "This used to be my favorite song!" Arnold gushed several times during his band's 80-minute set at the nearly packed Merriweather Post Pavilion on Tuesday. No surprise he has trouble choosing. As anyone familiar with 3 Doors Down's Top 40-friendly rock can attest, all three of their albums, including the new "Seventeen Days," sound pretty much the same.
Which makes one ask why the Mississippi quintet (including new drummer Greg Upchurch) rolled out "Kryptonite," arguably the most charismatic of their hits, early in the evening. (The other question: 3 Doors Down has this many fans?) The crowd didn't mind. In fact, more of the same seemed to be the order for the night. After the sludge-guitar downers of opening act Staind, 3 Doors Down seemed a veritable circus act with giant, illuminated cogs and occasional pyrotechnics decorating the stage.
The band got the most people up on their feet with songs about being down in the dumps. "This song got me through a lot of times when I needed something to get through it!" Arnold not-so-eloquently claimed as he introduced the title track from their second album, "Away From the Sun." It didn't sound much different from the others, but no one seemed to care.
-- Tricia Olszewski
Over its 16-year career, Teenage Fanclub has traveled from grungy distortion-pop to pristine folk-rock and now seems to be on its way back. The Scottish quartet's new album, "Man-Made," is discreetly raucous, and its performance Wednesday at the 9:30 club was noisier still. Even at its most clamorous, however, the band rarely lost its essential melodiousness.
The Fanclub's first D.C. appearance in eight years was an expansive and easygoing 90-minute career retrospective. The show began with the stately "It's All in My Mind," which opens the new album, but also encompassed such oldies as "Everything Flows," the group's first single, and "What You Do to Me," its most Big Star-struck number.
Rhythm guitarist Norman Blake functioned as frontman, standing center stage and handling the between-song patter. But the keyboard-supplemented quartet divided its material among its three songwriters -- Blake, bassist Gerard Love and lead guitarist Raymond McGinley -- and many songs featured two voices in unison.
The sound was ragged yet pure, exemplified by the performance of "I Need Direction'': bolstered by drummer Francis MacDonald's voice, the "bah bah bahs" were crisp, but then McGinley broke a string during the solo and the tune unraveled. These things happen, but when they happened to Teenage Fanclub, it just seemed to accentuate the inner grace of the band's neoclassical rock.
-- Mark Jenkins