Hinder: Live from The Alameda Country Fair

County Fair
June 19, 2013

By Dan Wall

Setlist: Up All Night, See You In Hell, Take It To The Limit, What Ya Gonna Do, Better Than Me, Two Sides of Me, Get Me Away From You, Use Me, Should Have Known Better, Room 21, Talk to Me, All American Nightmare, Lips of An Angel, Save Me. Encore: How Long, Get Stoned. 80 minutes.

After seeing Hinder at the Alameda County Fair, one has to wonder what comes next for the band.

Just a mere eight years into a career that started with the multi-platinum selling first album Extremer Behavior and the massive single “Lips of an Angel,” Hinder is now experiencing what many other bands of this day and age are going through-tons of roadwork, playing anywhere that pays the bills and seeing record sales of subsequent records following a massive debut (Take it To the Limit, All American Nightmare and Welcome to the Freakshow have followed) plummet in comparison to the first one.

Unfortunately, this is how it goes for rock bands in 2013. Hinder is a very good group, and even though the band’s last three albums haven’t sold as well as the first, they are all good records (I actually prefer the second release to the first one). The band remains popular on the touring circuit and at festivals, however, so it appears that this is how the group will earn its money in the future, unless something drastically changes in relation to record sales.

It’s hard to believe, but this was the first time that Hinder has headlined a show in the Bay Area, and the first time I’ve seen them in the top spot as well. The group played most of its big songs during its 80 minutes onstage, and despite some early sound problems, generally looked and sounded like the same band I’ve seen five times since 2006.

Onstage, the quintet’s mix of Guns N Roses sleaze, Aerosmith swagger and a touch of modern rock mentality is the reason why Hinder took off so massively back in 2005. Lead vocalist Austin Walker must idolize Steven Tyler, he looks and moves so much like the legendary singer. The rest of the boys provide the punch behind Winkler, led onstage by guitarists Joe Garvey (Blower) and Mark King. Drummer Cody Hansen and bassist Mike Rodden are solid pros as well, and group handles all of its hits and album cuts with aplomb-with one glaring problem rearing its head at recent concerts I’ve seen-Winkler’s voice.

Winkler has one of the most distinctive voices in rock today, but the last two times I’ve seen the band, he has struggled to hit the high notes. This time, he readily admitted that his voice was shot, and he struggled once again with the highest notes. This is especially evident during the ballads, and most of the band’s biggest hits are just that. When you play live for a living, busing across the country at a moment’s notice to play in California, these things are going to happen. But as evidenced by what now amounts to three straight shows that I’ve witnessed, this could be a problem that haunts the band for the foreseeable future. What do you do-take a live band off the road? If it was me, I would do what’s best for the group and get it fixed-Winkler is in his early 30’s, and could be doing this for 25 more years-before it starts costing the band fans.

Hinder is one of my favorite bands of the last 10 years, so it hurts when you have to have to reveal this sort of stuff. But it is the truth, and hopefully this was just one bad night for his voice and not what the future looks like for Hinder.