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Music is mostly consumed through headphones or the radio listening to a pre-recorded song. And though this is a great way to connect with some of your favorite artists, there are some bands I have just never been able to get into through their records. I don’t want to write these bands off as bad, because I believe you must experience a live show of a band to truly experience what their music is trying to say before you write them off. One of these bands to me is Nickelback. I have never disliked this band, but I will admit I have jumped on the hate bandwagon for the sake of a Nickelback joke often enough. None the less, I knew I had to see them live at least once and have a true Nickelback experience. So, when the Get Rollin’ Tour was announced with Brantley Gilbert and Joss Ross at the Kia Forum, I knew it was time to give one of the most notorious bands a true chance.

Opening the night was Joss Ross, who is a country artist opening for a hard rock band. This did seem like a strange choice of an opener, but as Joss launched into his set, the crowd was feeling the country vibes and were ready to rock out. Opening with “Tall Boys,” Joss’s country twang had its own rock feel to it that got me bopping in my seat. With the next song “Before I Loved You,” Joss stepped behind an acoustic guitar to add some more flare to his performance. Looking around the venue, you could see Joss was winning over the crowd with each song, as the Forum audience was swaying back and forth with every song that he played including “Red Flags,” “First Taste of Gone,” “Iris,” “Ain’t Doin’ Jack,” “Trouble,” and ending with “On a Different Night.” Joss Ross got the show rollin’ and jamming, and we were all ready for what was to come this night.

Up next was another country artist that brought a lot more edge and flare to the country aesthetic, that being Brantley Gilbert. Even though Gilbert wasn’t the headliner this night, he brought a stage show that could have headlined any arena. With pyro blasting off all over the stage, the country vibe was injected with steroids to get to new heights. With a strong back beat by the band and distorted electric guitars, Gilbert might play country, but he walks the line of a metal artist. He wants to make you feel that heavy bass in your soul, while headbanging to country music. Even throwing out some hats to the crowd just to win over even more people. Brantley Gilbert got a full hour long set and he made it count by fitting 17 songs into his time. Featuring songs like “Kick It In The Sticks,” “The Weekend,” “My Kinda Party,” “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,” “Bury Me Upside Down,” “Son of the Dirty South,” “Blue on Black,” “Country Must be Country Wide,” “Bottoms Up,” “Take it Outside,” and ending with “Read Me My Rights.” Gilbert loves his country and he’s not ashamed to share that love in his music and win any patron over with how much fun his show is.

Finally, it was time for one of the most notorious bands in the music industry to play live. Nickelback hit the stage opening their set with a new song called “San Quentin” and the crowd erupted with excitement. Even though this was a new song off their latest album Get Rollin’ the fans were quick to jump in singing along with the band. Singer and lead guitarist Chad Kroeger commands the stage and the audience’s attention, and they are more than willing to feed their energy back to him. Something I didn’t realize until seeing Nickelback live was just how much backing vocals rhythm guitarist Ryan Peake adds to the band. He doesn’t just add flavor to Chads vocal lines, he is almost a full second vocalist for the band and crushing the job. Bassist Mike Kroeger and drummer Daniel Adair are a dynamic duo of a low end in the band, creating the heaviness that lets the fans go crazy and bang their heads so hard they get a neck injury.

Not only are these four men impressive performers, but the stage show they bring makes every person in attendance feel welcome. Chad Kroeger finds time to talk to the crowd between almost every song, really cementing a connection with the fans. He’s also not one to shy away from their notoriety online, as he made his own jokes about the “Look at this Photograph” meme before playing the song “Photograph.” The band even hosted a radio competition that provided the winner with the chance to come on stage to sing “Rockstar” with the whole band. Sadly, I do not recall the winners name, but she had a beautiful voice that added a new level of charm to the song. Nickelback filled a two hour set with 17 songs that had fans singing throughout the night, including classics like “Savin’ Me,” “Far Way,” “Animals,” “Someday,” “Worthy to Say,” “Hero,” “Too Bad,” “How You Remind Me,” and a two song encore with “Gitta Be Somebody,” & “Burn it to the Ground.” Nickelback was a force to be reckoned with and could not be held back from bring joy and happiness to each fan that night.

Something that caught my attention before Nickelback even hit the stage, for as much hate as they get, the Kia Forum was sold out! According to the internet this band sucks, but there is a hardcore diehard fan base of people that will continue to show up for this band, and after finally seeing them live, I get it. You’re not just a fan that paid money to see four people play some instruments and sing for a couple hours. Nickelback may have written these songs, but they have a connection with their fans that truly makes it feel like these songs belong to us. The music has elevated past what the band could have ever imagined, and it is Nickelbacks honor to perform these songs for the fans. As an official new fan to the band, I was made to feel special to have the honor of owning this music in my life now. 


Matt Martinez

Editor - Orange County

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