Love To Hate Nickelback? The Joke’s On You

From Bloomberg:

There are people out there who love Nickelback. And if they pay enough and get close enough to the stage at a concert, Chad Kroeger, the band’s lead singer, rewards them by throwing beers at them, which is what’s happening on a Saturday night at the Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville, Ind. Kroeger is yelling, “Who’s thirsty?” The crowd is roaring in appreciation. Behind him, roadies are chucking dozens of cups into the audience of 16,000. For several women in the front rows, at least, there is no risk of wardrobe damage; they have removed their shirts.

The band is touring for its Here and Now album, which, like their other records, celebrates rowdiness and lust and a general uncorking of appetites. Halfway through the set things appear to be reaching maximum Nickelbackness. Kroeger has been taking theatrical shots of Jägermeister all night. After one song, aptly called Rockstar, he takes a bra that’s been thrown onstage and hangs it from the head of his guitar like a large Christmas ornament. Then he breaks into the power chords to start Someday, his ode to bad boyfriends begging for forgiveness. Their mode onstage is regulation rock: Kroeger, bassist Mike Kroeger (his half-brother), lead guitarist Ryan Peake, and drummer Daniel Adair are all wearing black shirts, dark pants, and heavy work boots or Chuck Taylors. They play their guitars with their feet wide apart, looking like they’re going to eat the microphones.

Kroeger finishes a song, hoists a cup, and offers a toast to the similarly hard-drinking Peake. “Together we will prevail, or we will fall down and throw up in front of all these people,” he says. Before the duo chugs, Peake jokes that this all might wind up online. Kroeger leans into his microphone to endorse that point. “It would make a great video for YouTube, absolutely. Cheers!”

For many music fans, all that would be torture. Hating Nickelback is a lifestyle choice. It’s like being against Crocs (CROX), Microsoft (MSFT), or the French. And yet Nickelback is one of the best-selling active rock bands in America, thriving as the recording industry has declined. How it does so has less to do with the band’s artistry than with the commercial genius of its Jäger-swilling frontman.

Since their first breakout single, How You Remind Me, in 2001, Nickelback has released five albums with at least 19 Billboard Hot 100 singles, selling more than 50 million records worldwide. Some songs have been hits for two years straight. In 2009 the crew was named Billboard’s top group of the decade. Nickelback isn’t even a pure rock band—it’s a sort of rock-pop hybrid, churning out songs varied enough to dominate multiple charts at the same time.

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