Review and Photo by Andy ArgyrakisWhen Default landed the opening spot on Bush's most recent tour, all eyes turned to them wondering if they'd be able to properly warm up the crowd for Gavin Rossdale and company. For those that caught a date from that tour, indeed they were able to rev up the audience with their high octane, testosterone driven jock rock. Taking nods from the current nu-metal wave, along with the alternative era that preceded it, Canadian rockers Default have invaded the States as of late, with their first single from The Fallout called "Wasting My Time" earning consistent airplay on both radio and video formats.
Coming through Chicago on the momentum of their second single "Deny" (the show closer) the group was high on themselves, making sure to fill their 70 minute set with plenty of "look at how cool I am" poses and "listen to me talk like a rock star" dialogue segments. As lead singer Dallas Smith cranked his way through "Slow Me Down," "Sick and Tired," and "Faded" to kick off the evening, he pranced around the stage twirling his microphone stand and raising his arms with Christ like fervor.
Smith made sure to take plenty of exaggerated pauses along the way (from "Seize the Day" to "Break Down Doors" to "One Late Night") during which he would scream into his microphone to overemphasize a melodramatic lyric, much to the delight of the screaming teenage girls down front. (The show was crowded but not packed, given the fact that area teenyboppers were split between the House of Blues and the Tweeter Center for the Greenday/Blink 182 double bill that evening).
The climax of over the top rock and roll power balladry came during "Wasting My Time," which earned an unparalleled response to the other cuts performed throughout the night. And why shouldn't it have? The tune has all the variables for a perfect hit single these days, including an angst-ridden message, an easy to memorize chorus, and throaty vocal moans. (Basically the same exact thing groups like Nickelback, Tantric, Staind, and 12 Stones are doing as of late).
Injected took the stage just prior to Default showcasing material from their Island debut Burn It Black. The group's repertoire fell into a few early '90s Seattle scene (Soundgarden, Nirvana) hard driving rock and roll (Metallica) and their hardcore cohorts who are no doubt on their way to the cut out bin (Puddle of Mudd, Taproot). The influences of Soundgarden and Metallica came up constructively during "Used Up" and "When She Comes" respectively, while cuts like "Faithless" and Burn It Black suffered from forced mayhem and uncomplimentary distortion.
"Bullets" made the most prominent lyrical impact throughout the evening, as it does on the CD. Lead singer Danny Grady encouraged teens to stray away from violence with lines like "What did you sell your soul for? Was it a gun, and a bullet and a chance at revenge?" In an age of school shootings and senseless violence, such a message was strikingly relevant to the high school and college aged audience. However, it's that same pool of listeners that will probably cast Injected, along with Default, out of their listening realms in pursuit of the next rising trend, destined to flare up as soon as this nu-metal drenched wave of alternative rock comes to a close.
Label mates Greenwheel opened the evening with a set of romping rock laced with occasional moments of unrelenting bombast. During their slot, the St. Charles, Missouri based band stuck to cuts off their debut Soma Holiday. However, their major hang-up on that project is the tendency to sound exactly like one of two bands on a handful of cuts. The first is Matchbox Twenty, and the second is Fuel, both of whom the band is guilty of drawing a little too much inspiration from. In concert, those inspirations were undoubtedly present, but at least vocalist Ryan Jordan was able to let his own personality and interactive attitude shine through from the stage.
He provided convincing renditions of the potential hits "Disappear" and "Dim Halo" while clipping through their first single "Shelter." That tune received an impressive face-lift, transforming it into a slicing blend of rambunctious guitars and Jordan's ferocious snarl, confirming that Greenwheel is the most promising out of all three bands on the bill.
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