Moms clapped next to their kids when Hinder frontman Austin Winkler announced that his band's next song, "Room 21," was "about a one-night stand," then offered an off-color definition of the term. While it didn't look as if the all-ages audience packed into Avalon for Hinder's sold-out show needed the explanation (we're talking about the kids, not the moms here), perhaps Winkler was just trying to be helpful.
After all, despite the occasional profanity and bad-boy spitting onstage, the lanky singer with darkly dreamy good looks seemed like a wholesome lad -- a guy who'd offer to carry your groceries or loan you the cash for concert tickets. All of which is to say that, regardless of a major label debut called "Extreme Behavior," there's nothing particularly extreme about this Oklahoma City quintet of arena-rock hopefuls -- or distinctive, for that matter.
During its 70-minute set Sunday, Hinder gamely flogged hard rock's familiar formula of staged hedonism, with a cheerleader's dedication to investing the old rants and true-blue chants with new energy. The songs were about sex (the aforementioned "Room 21"), sex and drugs ("Get Stoned"), and booze-addled breakups ("Bliss [Don't Wanna Know]"). They were rendered as generic power ballads (break out the acoustic guitar!) and the kind of '80s-style pop-metal that made Bon Jovi and Poison hairsprayed heartthrobs back in the day. In fact, Hinder demonstrated a soft spot for that decade by trotting out a reverent cover of the very un-extreme Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight/Be My Baby."
Guitarists Joe "Blower" Garvey and Mark King's primary-color chord changes were shrewd in their obviousness, and caveman drummer Cody Hanson's flying sticks and hair were mesmerizing. Hinder's most effective asset, however, was Winkler's Steven Tyler-esque tomcat screech, which he employed liberally to underscore both the pain and pleasures of infidelity on numbers such as "Lips of an Angel" and "Nothin' Good About Goodbye."
Hinder's meat-and-potatoes schtick, reheated though it may have been, went over well. These were big, melodramatic anthems for the big, melodramatic emotions of a Nickelback generation, most of its members too young to remember when dinosaurs like Warrant and Whitesnake roamed the earth.