Theory of a Deadman in Lockport (2012)

TOAD

I don’t know why, but Theory of a Deadman’s Tyler Connolly doesn’t bring the same threatening scowl to the stage that he exhibits on the recorded versions of the band’s biggest hits. Perhaps the piercing wall of distortion has something to do with that, but it’s an issue nonetheless.

I’ve been a fan of the band from the moment I heard the emotional mean streak that is “Nothing Could Come Between Us” back in the fall of 2002, yet both live performances I’ve experienced from the band have left a little something on the table.

While last Friday’s show in Lockport was worlds apart from the egg they laid at Crue Fest 2 in 2009, I was still left wondering why his voice sounded much higher than usual.

That said, the crowd didn’t appear to mind, as they sang along to “So Happy,” “The Bitch Came Back,” and an assortment of other provocative numbers the band dragged out as the evening progressed.

Connolly pulls double duty on much of the material, so his nimble guitar work deserves just as much praise as his ability to cajole the crowd into a flurry of profanity.  Overall, the band fills its niche in tight fashion, but the schizophrenic songwriting prevents further ascendance.

Songs such as “By the Way” and “Hurricane” are evidence of what the band can do when they don’t want to sound like trite pretenders, but the schizophrenia comes in when they resort to sophomoric sexual innuendo no doubt inspired by fellow Canadian rocker Chad Kroeger of Nickelback.

“Little Smirk,” “Lowlife,” and “Bad Girlfriend” may all be fan favorites, but they come off as trying too hard to be accepted by a mainstream that threw taste to the wind a long time ago.

While I do think the band can be better than that, the chances of them breaking free from the generic post-grunge cyclone are slim, because the masses love it.  Sure, entertainment value is critical, but is it too much to ask to also be engaged on a cerebral level?

Given the state of pop culture in 2012, the answer to that question scares me to death.

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