I’m not a fan, but after last night’s headlining set at the BofA Stage, I appreciate what they do.
What they did: Delivered a manly, anthemic, 80-minute musical experience that fell exactly between Pearl Jam’s righteous rock and Metallica’s overdriven metal, with a little Stone Temple Pilots pomp thrown in for drama. Singer Scott Stapp possessed a powerful approximation of Eddie Vedder’s brassy yarl and turned up the final syllable of each lyric—each-ah lyric-ah—like James Hetfield. His band was muscular, literally and figuratively—guitarist Mark Tremonti flexed ripped shoulders as he ripped into aggressive solos.
Creed is one of those bands that looks identical to its audience; Eagles and Duran Duran are two others I’ve observed. In this case the look is buff, well-groomed white guys in expensive black jeans and black t-shirts, probably tattooed. There’s something validating about seeing a reflection of yourself on-stage, fearless in the face of a rabid crowd, belting out songs of personal struggle and triumph at ear-busting volumes. When Stapp sang “With Arms Wide Open,” the sea of fans in front of the stage sang along with arms wide open. Like drinking a beer in your pickup listening to Alan Jackson or drinking a margarita on a sailboat listening to Jimmy Buffet, a direct and literal connection to music imprints the moment into memory. Those are the moments that sell 40 million records.
Personally, my quota for yarl-rock was filled by Pearl Jam in 1998. Pearl Jam is still around, still working, still filling that quota, so I’m good on Creed. But many people have a larger appetite for this sort of big-emotion, self-affirming music. It speaks to people in an intensely immediate way. No fault in that.