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John Lamb, Published May 24 2010

Nickelback loved, loathed

Tickets for Thursday’s Nickelback return to the Fargodome aren’t sold out, but they’re not easy to get.

Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik said that as of last week, two tickets together couldn’t be purchased.

But for every one of those 12,500-some screaming Nickelback fans out on Thursday, there are probably just as many critics of the group making just as much noise.

Nickelback is one of the best-selling bands of the past decade, moving more than 30 million albums, prompting Billboard to name it band of the decade.

Still, detractors never miss a chance to take a hit at the British Columbia-based quartet.

A review in the Ottawa Sun called a recent show “nothing but a massive Nickelback group hug” for “fans who don’t care how sexist, stupid or emotionally arrested Nickelback’s music is, indulged their taste for songs about getting wasted or porn actresses in one predictably nasty, dirty and horribly predictable rock show.”

Safe to say the reviewer didn’t have a good time.

One group of non-fans who had a good time at the band’s expense were the organizers of a Facebook campaign who collected more fans for a pickle than the band had.

“I get really offended when people don’t like Nickelback because I like them so much,” says Darion Olson.

The 17-year-old from Dilworth, who claims to be the group’s No. 1 fan, will be in the crowd and screaming loud.

She became a fan when her stepfather took her and her sister to the group’s Fargodome show in January 2006. That show drew around 8,000.

“I’ve been a fan ever since,” Olson says, adding that she saw them at the Alerus in July 2007. “I’m infatuated with them. I love Chad Kroeger. I think he’s gorgeous.”

Looks may be a significant part of the appeal, since the group has a sizeable number of female fans.

For Marnie St. Germain, 38, the attraction is less about the sights and more about the sound.

“I just love their music,” she says, adding that she’ll be at the show though her 14-year-old daughter is upset she has to stay home to baby-sit.

Recently St. Germain’s been digging the group’s newest pop single, “This Afternoon.”

“It’s a good summer song,” she says, “great for listening to on the boat.”

She’s familiar with one of the popular criticisms – that Nickelback songs all sound alike.

“So do a lot of other bands,” she says.

Some haters even synched up “Someday” and “How You Remind Me” to follow the similarities, calling it “You Remind Me of Someday.”

Mike “Big Dog” Kapel, DJ at Q98 and FM 105.1, says some of the vocal haters used to be fans but have cooled to Kroeger and Co.’s mellower tunes like “Photograph” and “Far Away.”

“The hatred stems from the fact that they started off as a hard-rock band,” he says. “Some metal heads I know still admit that first Nickelback album is really good.”

But after seeing the chart-topping success of “How You Remind Me,” Nickelback followed the ballad formula to mainstream success, he says.

He compares the band to the Goo Goo Dolls, which started off as more of a punk band but broke out with ballads, or Metallica, which shifted from heavy metal to classic rock with what is called “The Black Album.”

“I was really into them early on,” says Erik Stenehjem. “Their first three albums are really awesome.”

Though he’s still a fan, the 21-year-old doesn’t know if he’ll catch the show at the dome, though he said they put on “a heck of a show” at the Alerus.

Lately, he says, they’ve been too “safe” with their music.

“They’ve been really focused on selling albums than pushing the envelope,” he says.

“You hear the ‘sell-out’ argument and all that, but at the end of the day, they carry a good tune,” says fan Travis Kurtz, who has already seen them about five times.

“I’ve hopped on the hate bandwagon there a little bit,” admits Kapel, “but their songs are so catchy, it’s hard not to get sucked in a little bit. Especially that new one. ‘This Afternoon’ is a catchy little ditty for a summer afternoon of drinking.”

If you go



Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533