By JIM FARBER.MMATCHBOX 20 CLEARLY TAPPED INTO something creepy and deep with its current smash single, “Push.” At the band’s first concert-sized New York show, at Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday, nearly 4,000 fans chanted, screamed and sang along with a chorus that sneeringly tells a lover, “I want to push you around/ I want to take you for granted.”
In part, by giving voice to such fantasies of control, has managed to sell nearly 2 million copies of its first major-label album, “Yourself or Someone Like You.” Commonly, it takes up-and-coming bands several singles to move into multi-platinum territory, but Matchbox achieved it with this one song.
Yet the frustrations the song unleashes come in a mild dose. Lead writer and frontman tempers his lyrics with irony (by providing multiple points of view) and a certain degree of confusion (since half the lyrics make no sense).
The music blands things out all the more. In concert, the five-man group put a little more oomph behind its tunes, adding a keyboardist and a more rocking beat. But for the most part, the boys performed their songs faithfully, hewing to a pale version of their chosen genre: folk-rock.
The band’s choice of genre goes a long way toward explaining its appeal. In an age when harder-rocking bands haven’t made an inch of headway on the charts, a commercial compromise has arisen in the form of folk-rock. Most of the guitar-oriented performers who’ve broken in the last year, including the Wallflowers, Jewel, Sister Hazel and , have combined acoustic and electric instruments.
Those last two hail from the South (the Matchbox boys from Gainsville, Fla.), which tips off yet another part of their draw. The group’s better songs recall the soaring guitars of ’70s Southern rock though they ultimately show more influence of Hootie and the Blowfish than the Allman Brothers. Live, that influence came through strongest in Cook’s leads for “Real World.” The lyrics to that song flesh out ’ usual concern: the gap between the pull of fantasy and the limitations of reality. But few of the band’s other songs offered here, including some new ones, had as strong a melodic tug.Thomas’ lead vocals limited things further. Even when he sang softly, he seldom nurtured a note. He stressed a curious snarl that failed on at least two levels. It communicated no genuine anger and blunted any small beauty that may have existed in the tunes.As a result, did no favors to the legacy of folk-rock. Ultimately, the band arose as an equivalent to the Byrds with clipped wings.
Original Source: NY Daily News