“Do we just sit? Do people just sit for the show?”
A woman leaned over and asked me shortly before 3 Doors Down took to the stage for their “Back Porch Jam” show at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino.
It was a sold out show for an alternative rock band playing an acoustic set, but the energy in the room left little doubt that these were rock fans, and this was a rock show.
“If we mess up, sorry,” said lead singer Brad Arnold, sporting a mustache in a simple black t-shirt and a baseball cap, setting the tone for the night at the get-go.
This was going to be a casual, easygoing, fun night. It’s the “back porch” jam after all, with wooden porch chairs on the stage, fake garden torches and plants on stage evoking the kind of summer night I used to have with friends at one of their, well, back porches.
We were the guinea pigs, the first show of their tour, and they admitted they didn’t rehearse all their songs before the show. But if they messed up at all, no one in the crowd noticed – or cared.
Instead, Arnolds’ almost-raspy vocals just entranced everyone.
“If you can’t play it acoustically, you’ve got too much going on,” Arnolds said, right after playing “Away From the Sun.”
The show ran for a fair bit longer than two hours, and perhaps it was just hyperbole, but Arnold called it the longest setlist they’ve played.
They packed 21 songs into the night, regaled the audience with stories, and the night breezed by in a blur.
Most impressive was how they translated their songs acoustically, even songs like “Duck and Run,” while keeping the tone and mood of the original track.
They played most of their fan favorites, with “Kryptonite” and “Here Without You” coming near the end of the night to rousing cheers. If we were to judge the popularity of a song by the number of phones taking pictures or videos, “Kryptonite” was definitely the most popular song of the night.
Chet Roberts, lead guitarist, showed off his electric mandolin skills on “The Real Life” and a few other songs, happily sharing that he’s only started playing it a week or so ago.
Arnold has this relaxed charm about him as he shared stories. It was informal but intimate as he talked a little about his drinking and how he quit, or how 3 Doors Down was initially signed, how he was only 16 years old when he started the band and had to ask his mother for a note in order to play at bars.
He his fans profusely, for the sold out night and for loving their music, and he also thanked members of the military and other first responders – dedicating one of the songs to them.
As an end-of-the-night twist to their show, they swapped their acoustic guitars for electric guitars for the encore and played “Love Me When I’m Gone” and “This Time” to raucous cheering from their fans.
And no, the fans decided they didn’t want to just sit for the whole show. This was a rock concert, after all.