Cat’s Cradle


Brawling with whom? Certainly not with each other—in fact, never have two bloat-rock bands been so symbiotic. To P.O.D.’s born-again beacon of reggae-funk-metal positivity, Staind played the lost and shuffling, baseball-capping everyman, with humorless hard-rock ballads for and about people looking for someone to believe in. These are two of the bestselling rock bands of the last decade, doing cat’s cradle together while suburb kids’ allowance money and self-esteem get caught twixt the yarn. Do you want to draw the line from big business to the Christian right to a room full of dudes singing, “I feel so alive/for the very first time/I can’t deny You!”—or should I?

On stage P.O.D. hulked about like comic-book mutants, their strength their affliction, but that’s the band’s love-the-outcasts point, no? “Here’s some water,” said lead P.O.D. Sonny mid-set, breaking face, tossing out bottles to fans. “Take a sip. Oh! Watch your head.” They’ve chimped reggae for vibes and Xian-compatible imagery since their San Diego beginnings, but for new God-wears-dreadlocks anthem “Why Wait?” P.O.D. even got a real Jamaican up there with them to do the blup blup blup gun noises and the hook: “Jah Jah gonna be there for you.” Fear not! When the outsize guitar flanges and martial tom-toms ushered in P.O.D.’s dreary mega-hit “Youth of the Nation,” no youth, adult, or Visa holder in the room seemed to doubt the song’s conclusion: “There’s gotta be more to life than this.”

Staind, for knowing that much is true, were unconvincing in the role of prodigal sons. Sure lead man Aaron Lewis asked, “You fuckers ready in the pit?” then did his jackknifed, defecating gorilla impersonations during nu-metal standard “Shut Up.” He flipped the bird several times and asked for devil horns too, and in one song he even played the V-shaped guitar of the late badass Dimebag Darrell. But the harder stuff got lost in the soft-loud cesspool of Staind’s mopey ballads: Imagine outtakes of “It’s Been Awhile” and lines like “Are you waiting for someone to rescue you/from yourself?” for about an hour straight. Shame. Us fuckers were totally ready in the pit.