Four bands at Intrust Bank Arena Friday night played music that echoes through the chest and makes floors of solid concrete rumble. Even the slow songs.
Sick Puppies, Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin set the stage for Nickelback, which owned the marquee but shared affection from the packed house that cheered wildly for all four bands, especially the last three.
When the thousands of teenagers and 20-somethings suffer hearing loss later in life, they'll point to May 14, 2010, as the evening that started it. Nickelback lead singer Chad Kroeger said it best when he told the crowd, "Ninety-nine ... percent of you don't have to do anything tomorrow except take a couple Advil."
That was one of the few family-friendly quips of the night from Kroeger, with the expletive omitted.
One of Nickelback's lyrics, from "Photograph," is "I was so nervous that I nearly missed." That didn't describe Kroeger, who has been on tour with his three band mates for nearly two years promoting their 2008 album "Dark Horse." Kroeger has no apprehension about being the center of attention.
Sick Puppies began playing at around 6:15, and the Australian trio played for about 20 minutes. By 7, the arena was nearly full, even though the main act was nearly two hours from taking the stage.
That's because Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin have loyal followings of their own, as evidenced by their heavy radio play and album sales in the multimillions. Shinedown lead singer Brent Smith set the tone early in the set by ordering everyone in the building to stand throughout the rest of the show. Nearly all of them complied.
Those on the floor had no choice, because there were no chairs. Hundreds packed close to get as close one another in an effort for the nearest proximity to the stage as possible. The fans in front were surprisingly well-behaved, mostly avoiding mosh pits and crowd surfing.
The noise of overwhelming electric guitars and violent drumming often drowned out the vocals, especially those of Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin. That didn't detract from their overall sound, though, and the impressive vocal range of Smith was still evident.
Both bands rocked hard, but their stage sets were simple, with basic video screens and some laser lights.
Nickelback enjoyed all the perks of a headliner. Before their opener, "Burn it to the Ground", fireworks exploded around the stage, and during the song fire frequently emanated from behind drummer Daniel Adair. The stage also featured a large video screen that alternated between shots of the performance and of the crowd.
After the not-so-subtle "Something in Your Mouth," Kroeger took a few sips from an alcoholic beverage. He gave it to a fan who accepted his offer: "You want my Jack and Coke?"
Nickelback's set included hits from its nine-year run such as "Photograph," "Flat on the Floor" and "Far Away" and broke formula with a verse from Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places." Touring with Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin brought a broader audience, but Nickelback stole the show with formulaic but edgy rock songs that produced a memorable evening for thousands. And a funny feeling in the chest.