It’s hard to believe it’s been nine years since I last saw Hinder in concert. That was on a hot, August evening at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair, when the band opened for Seether. Since then, the Oklahoma rockers have parted ways with their co-founding lead singer Austin Winkler (after he entered rehab in 2013) and have recorded a few more albums. After taking some time off from touring, they are out in full force now, on their Lucky 7 Tour. This is a precursor to the upcoming release of their seventh studio album this fall. For fans concerned that the band could not survive losing Winkler and his distinctive voice, I’m happy to report that Hinder is better than ever with new singer Marshal Dutton. After seeing the show tonight, I can’t wait for their new album. But first, let’s talk about the three great opening bands that made this one heck of a Wednesday night in Minneapolis.
Local Minneapolis rockers, Strange Daze, are not your typical opening band. Rather than some up-and-coming act, they are accomplished veterans who caught the attention of some important folks and recorded a national album, Shine Through, in 2013. They play some great straight-ahead rock and you can definitely hear the resemblance to 3 Doors Down, which makes sense, as 3 Doors Down’s guitarist, Chris Henderson, along with his friend, .38 Special’s Bobby Capps, were the pair that were impressed enough by the band to sign on to produce their album. The band’s lead singer, Scott Knudson, looks a bit like Nick Nolte, and his voice might be a cross between Nolte and 3 Doors Down’s Brad Arnold. If you don’t believe me, listen and watch the band’s video for “Anymore” filmed at Route 47 in Fridley. Eric Moudry is the primary songwriter, and co-founder of the band and handles all of the guitar work. Bassist Derrick “Pixx” Russell has been with the band for a while now too, but I’m not positive who their young drummer is. Admitting to the crowd that slow songs get a bad rap, Knudson told us they were going to play one anyway. I’m glad they did, as it was one of their top songs, “Beautiful”. And they closed with their biggest hit, “Satellite Soul”. After thanking Minneapolis fans, Knudson pointed to darn near everyone in the audience during a long closing drum roll before the proud reminder, “We are Strange Daze!”
HAMMER DOWN HARD
Hammer Down Hard (HDH) would the heaviest act tonight, and they made their presence known by parking their tour bus right in front of the Fine Line. Check out this special tour inside of “Christine”, as they named their tour bus, as well as preconcert activities in the Fine Line, from the band’s Facebook page HERE. HDH is the creation of renowned hard rock drummer/singer/songwriter Lonnie Hammer and was born in Fall 2017. Hammer is the lead singer, and he added a variety of well-known hard rock and heavy metal musicians in recording HDH’s debut album, Total Annihilation. His touring band is obviously very talented too, with guitarist Randall X Rawlings and drummer Mike Dover from the Sebastian Bach Band. Along with David Soard on guitar there is the intense, bald bassist, Daniel Dwight, that adds special flair to this metal show. The long-haired Hammer handled the reigns of this energetic metal machine quite adeptly as they kicked off with “World’s Gone Bad” and “Dark Side of Heaven” before playing a foursome of songs from Total Annihilation. First was the title track, then “Wakefield”, “Christine”, and my personal favorite “Fox on the Run”. A cool moment was when Hammer triumphantly raised his awesome, skull microphone stand over his head. The veteran rocker told us they just finished recording their second album, and they closed their set with a song from that upcoming album, “Cephalopod”. I don’t remember ever hearing the term before so I looked it up. It describes the marine animals class that includes the octopus and squid species. Strangely, I heard the term he very next morning on the 93X Half-Assed Morning Show. They were discussing a women having to go to the hospital for an octopus bite after putting the creature on her face for a photo. Dumb. By the way, you may have noticed Ashley from the same 93X HAMS right in the front row at the show. Anyway, I’m looking forward to album number two from HDH. They are legit!
World’s Gone Bad / Dark Side of Heaven / Total Annihilation / Wakefield / Christine / Fox on the Run / Cephalopod.
Royal Bliss is a band I’m ashamed to say I never heard about before. I guess too many bands and too little time (evidenced by my nearly 3,000 songs that Amazon forced me to re-download onto my phone). Well, Royal Bliss certainly got my attention (and is queued up to download when those other songs are done). They also showed they have a strong local fan base with many fans wearing Royal Bliss shirts and singing every word. Holy frontman! Neal Middleton is “all-in” and has a great raspy rock voice that he showcased from the first word of “Hard and Loud”, the lead single from their April 2019 self-titled album. What a great song. Drummer Jake Smith and guitarist Taylor Richards are the other two original members of Royal Bliss. Smith’s loud pounding is an essential part of the band’s sound and Richards is not only one cool cat, but also an impressive guitarist.
The Salt Lake City rockers next took us back ten years for a pair of clearly well-known songs from their debut album, Life In-Between. First, Middleton got the crowd singing along, “Ohhh, oh, oh” to “We Did Nothing Wrong” and then “Save Me”. While their songs are not overly complicated, they are extremely catchy, performed with intensity, and lend themselves to sing-a-longs. The stocky, unshaven singer told us this was one of the best Wednesday nights he’s had in a while. He explained that they are an independent, blue-collar band that has to work hard to make things happen. Proudly, he told us that their latest single, “Pain”, just cracked the Top 30, and thanked us for making that happen. They also played “Paranoid”, “Devil with Angel Eyes”, and “Be Original” which are three more really good songs from the new album. On “Devil” Middleton said he needed help singing the “female” backing parts of the song, and the crowd obliged. Announcing that their new CD was for sale back at their table, he joked that Christmas is just around the corner. We learned tonight was their last show with their friends, Hinder. Now he raised a toast to them, and said that three words explain a lot of things in his life; both the good and the bad. Those three words were the name of the sing-along closing anthem, “I Was Drunk.”
Hard and Loud / We Did Nothing Wrong / Save Me / Pain / Paranoid / Crazy / Devil with Angel Eyes / Cry Sister / Be Original / I Was Drunk.
Right from the get-go, Marshal Dutton, demonstrated how outgoing and fan-friendly he is, giving the band a different vibe than in the Austin Winkler days. The new singer, who resembles “Dr. Conrad Hawkins” from Fox’s The Resident, admits his voice is different than the original singer and wasn’t sure how well fans would receive him. All I witnessed was love for Dutton with him returning it two-fold. Dutton was actually involved with Hinder in writing and producing their albums since 2009, and it was he who filled in on an emergency basis when Winkler went to rehab. The band did try a few different singers, including Jared Weeks of Saving Abel, before making “the right” choice in Dutton. FYI, Winkler released a solo EP Love Sick under his stage name “Austin John” and has toured performing Hinder songs, including a 2017 stop in the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, he’s also been unwilling to abide by their separation agreement, forcing the band to file a trademark infringement lawsuit. Fun, fun.
Anyway, onto the new and improved Hinder and the great show they put on at the Fine Line. While they would soon get to many of the top hits from their four albums recorded with Winkler, two of their first three songs were from the first album featuring Dutton, When the Smoke Clears. During the opener, “I Need Another Drink”, Dutton gave fist bumps to many fans and was far more energetic than Winkler ever was. After “Up All Night”, the singer told us that the Twin Cities is one of their favorite places to play and asked who has a drink in their hand for the next song, “Intoxicated”, which was the other from that 2015 album. “We have a day off tomorrow, so why not,” he said.
Before playing a song from their most recent album, The Reign, the singer explained it was a song that some Hinder fans may not know that well yet, but it required our help. After quickly training us to sing, “I’m broke, I’m proud, I’m King of the Letdown,” it proved to be a fun one for the crowd. Dutton grabbed a guitar and had fun playing a guitar duo with big Joe “Blower” Garvey at center stage. The two really seemed enjoy this before starting “Use Me”, the first of the band’s four top-10 hits they would play tonight. “What Ya Gonna Do” never reached that high on the charts but is an ever-familiar song that really got fans into it. Following up with “All American Nightmare”, the title track from their 2010 album, we were now well into a great rock show.
Dutton told us the story of how hearing AC/DC changed his life and he started going to concerts and playing guitar, but was told he’d go to hell for listening to that kind of music. He decided if all the coolest people in the world are going to hell, then I’ll “See You In Hell”. After that we also learned that the next song, “Without You”, was a song that fell out of their setlist for awhile but they have brought back.
If “Halo” is a good representation of what we’ll find on Hinder’s upcoming 7th album, it will be a strong offering. Dutton encouraged us to sing the “Halos” on the song whose lyrics tell us, “Someday you will look around and find your halo on the ground.” Following this, the rest of the band took a short break while Garvey sat down to play acoustic guitar, while Dutton sang “Better Than Me”. The band’s most recent release is their cover of the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane”, which they made sure to play for us. Dutton joined lead-guitarist Garvey, rhythm-guitarist Mark King, and bassist Mike Rodden, in a line across the front of the stage, for some synchronized jamming on their reinvigorated version of the classic. Drummer Cody Hanson, doesn’t get enough credit for all he does as the leader of the band. He is also the one who co-writes songs with Dutton. The two have actually worked together on the production side since 2006 and have their own business together, Back-Lounge Productions.
Saving their best for last, Dutton said next was the song we all came to hear, “Lips of an Angel.” Yes, this is the song that hit #1 on the Top 40 chart from the band’s triple-platinum album, Extreme Behavior. Knowing how important this song was to fans, the singer he offered to hold fans’ cell phones to record him singing with them in the background. Somehow he did this for at least a dozen wildly happy fans who left with a priceless remembrance. Again, a really positive step for Hinder in bringing on this fan-friendly frontman. But the show was not over yet. There was, of course, one more big hit from Extreme Behavior remaining to play. That closer to a great evening of rock was fans’ other favorite, “Get Stoned”. If like me, you’ve grown out of touch with this great band, make sure to get them back on your radar, and look for Hinder’s upcoming new album this fall.
I Need Another Drink / Up All Night / Intoxicated / King of the Letdown / Use Me / What Ya Gonna Do / All American Nightmare / See You In Hell / Without You / 2 Sides of Me / Halo / Better Than Me / Life in the Fast Lane / Lips of an Angel / Get Stoned.