December 18, 2018

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Going through the motions

Fans eat up pedestrian performance by Three Days Grace

<p>Three Days Grace performed to an enthusiastic audience of 3,200 Tuesday night at Bell MTS Place.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Three Days Grace performed to an enthusiastic audience of 3,200 Tuesday night at Bell MTS Place.

In 2017, Canadian rock group Three Days Grace celebrated their 20th year as a band. The past two decades have not been without their ups and downs — from their six full-length records producing numerous No. 1 singles and four Juno Awards to unexpected lineup changes and label shuffles, Three Days Grace has done (and survived) it all.

The band released its newest record, Outsider, earlier this year and is currently on a coast-to-coast tour in support of it, which made a stop in a rather sparsely populated, though enthusiastic, Bell MTS Place Tuesday night.

Outsider is the second album with vocalist Matt Walst, who took over when original singer Adam Gontier abruptly left the group in 2013. The Ontario-based four-piece band opened their set with the new album’s first single, The Mountain, and while it has noticeably less sonic density than the band’s earlier work (though it did still hit No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart), that didn’t stop fans on the floor from hurling themselves into a slam-dance circle the moment the charging opening riff started.

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In 2017, Canadian rock group Three Days Grace celebrated their 20th year as a band. The past two decades have not been without their ups and downs — from their six full-length records producing numerous No. 1 singles and four Juno Awards to unexpected lineup changes and label shuffles, Three Days Grace has done (and survived) it all. 

Concert Review

Click to Expand

Three Days Grace

Dec. 4, Bell MTS Place

Attendance: 3,200

★★★ out of five

The band released its newest record, Outsider, earlier this year and is currently on a coast-to-coast tour in support of it, which made a stop in a rather sparsely populated, though enthusiastic, Bell MTS Place Tuesday night.

Outsider is the second album with vocalist Matt Walst, who took over when original singer Adam Gontier abruptly left the group in 2013. The Ontario-based four-piece band opened their set with the new album’s first single, The Mountain, and while it has noticeably less sonic density than the band’s earlier work (though it did still hit No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart), that didn’t stop fans on the floor from hurling themselves into a slam-dance circle the moment the charging opening riff started.

Three Days Grace performs in Winnipeg at BellMTS Place Tuesday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Three Days Grace performs in Winnipeg at BellMTS Place Tuesday.

From there, it was right into the oldies-but-goodies; the anthemic Home from 2003’s self-titled album, The Good Life from 2009’s Life Starts Now and the heartbreaking Pain off of 2006’s One-X. 

On a purely technical level, Three Days Grace is great. They band worked its way through the setlist with ease — they have been playing some of these songs for 20 years, after all — and Walst’s live vocals are album quality. On new track Infra-red especially, Walst was able to really showcase his raspy, but controlled, style.

Where there was a disconnect, however, was in the emotion of the performance. There was little energy projected from anyone other than Walst; it felt very much like a band just going through the motions. 

Earlier on in the night, there was what seemed like an eon of dead air between many of the songs; at times, the room would be almost entirely silent for as much as 15-20 seconds. That stark blankness between tracks that are so loud and so packed with words and interesting instrumental melodies really killed the momentum.

The stage, too, felt a bit blank; drummer Neil Sanderson was placed on a simple riser, flanked by two small screens and ramps on either side. Not exactly an arena-calibre rock-show spectacle. It became infinitely more interesting to watch the reactions of the fans below, belting their hearts out and really investing in the moment.

Three Days Grace performs in Winnipeg at BellMTS Place Tuesday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Three Days Grace performs in Winnipeg at BellMTS Place Tuesday.

Mid-set, Three Days Grace slipped in a duo of acoustic tracks, Love Me or Leave Me and Get Out Alive. This moment carried the tone the entire concert should have; Walst was on a stool centre stage with his bandmates around him, talking about the Winnipeg Jets and the band's connection to the city and the team, just kind of shooting the breeze and offering some genuine conversation and connection with the crowd. 

Everything up to that point felt scripted, but the acoustic section guided them away from canned and more toward candid, which was much appreciated.

Three Days Grace rounded out their main set with a trio of fan faves: Let You Down, the crowd-surf inducing I Hate Everything About You and Animal I Have Become, and, after a short trip off stage, returned for an encore consisting of two more decade-old tracks, Never Too Late and Riot, making the back half of their set the stronger one by far.

Overall, Three Days Grace is a good live band to listen to, they’re just boring to watch, which is not really the ideal rock-show experience.

L.A. rock/heavy metal five-piece Bad Wolves was opened the night loudly, setting an energetic pace. As far as heavy metal goes, their music is actually quite approachable; sure, there are the usual qualities that can be a turn-off for some — lots of yelling and cursing and guitars that are so deep and gritty it makes your gut vibrate — but vocalist Tommy Vext is a very engaging and immediately likeable frontman. He's constantly on the move, jumping and running all over the stage, and has a strong set of pipes. The band's harmonies, too, were a pleasantly on-point surprise.

Nothing More, a Grammy-nominated hard-rock group out of San Antonio, took the second slot of the night and kept the liveliness and entertainment-value high as they blasted through their 40-minute set. Frontman and occasional drummer Johnny Hawkins was giving some major Brandon Boyd/Incubus vibes with his vocal performance (and also his lack of shirt) most evident in his control, his range and his ability to push his voice out in front of the wall of sound coming from his three bandmates behind him. Nothing More is tight in their musicality and know how to put on a show with nothing on stage outside of their own instruments and personalities, and it seems likely they will reach headliner status before too long.  

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @NireRabel

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Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 12:02 AM CST: Adds photo

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