In the wake of the memorials and remembrances surrounding the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we offer this postscript.
In the days after 9/11, concert events — from the smallest club shows to the biggest arena performances — were understandably called off as Americans mourned and regrouped. But some acts held tough, weighed their options and decided to move on, convinced that the course to pursue was the best continuance of life-as-normal that could be summoned under the circumstances.
Such was the decision of the Mississippi rock troupe 3 Doors Down. Three days after the attacks, the band played Rupp Arena as scheduled. The sense of hope and healing at the performance was obvious — whether it came from the music itself or simply the sight of thousands of people gathering for some kind of diversion from the week's horrific events.
"It was really surreal for us," said guitarist Chris Henderson, who was part of that 2001 Rupp performance and will return with the band Saturday.
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"On 9/11 itself, we were in York, P.A. That day, when all that happened and America went into shock, we were trying to decide whether or not we were going to cancel our tour. And we were watching the TV when the president came on and said to go about your business, to go about life and that we were going to bounce back from this.
"So we played that night in York to a downsized crowd, understandably. But we played, and the crowd was amazing. The next night was in Virginia Beach, a big military town. Rupp was after that. Following these shows, I don't think anyone particularly cared anymore. We were just moving on and everyone was moving on with us. In America, that's what we do. We bounce back from tragedy and become stronger than we were before."
At the time, 3 Doors Down was a new but already proven and immensely popular act. It was versed in the ways of pure pop design, but the band was armed with a rugged guitar sound and a fearsome howl from vocalist Brad Arnold that allowed it to hold tough with the many other radio-friendly post-grunge bands of the day. The big introduction came by way of two suitably strident singles full of melodic guitar crunch, Kryptonite and Loser. The band's 2000 debut album, The Better Life, where those songs came from, would sell more than 6 million copies.
Subsequent albums didn't fully match those numbers, but each recording sold briskly enough to maintain 3 Doors Down's presence as a top-drawing concert attraction and a top-charting recording act.
The proof: 2002's Away From the Sun went quadruple-platinum and scored three more No. 1 hits (Dangerous Game, Dead Love and Wasted Me). Seventeen Days in 2005 and 3 Doors Down in 2008 debuted on the Billboard album charts at No 1. The recent Time of My Life topped the iTunes album chart upon its release in July.
"We seem to be gathering new fans as we go," Henderson said. "Some of the people were practically kids when they were listening to us 10 years ago. Now they're bringing their kids to the show. We're seeing more families out there. That just shows the longevity of the band. That's one of the things we're most proud of — the fact that we've been able to continue to do this, because this is not really an easy gig to get."
Although not an original member of 3 Doors Down, Henderson, 40, joined Arnold and bassist Todd Harrell as the band began cutting its first demo recordings. The demos, which included Kryptonite, began gaining regional airplay. That led to an invitation to perform at the famed New York punk haven CBGB's, which eventually moved the band on to a contract with Republic Records.
The band's drum chair has revolved a few times since then. Greg Upchurch has sat there since 2005. But the bond that Arnold, Henderson and Harrell have built and fortified over the past 12-plus years has become unbreakable on personal and professional levels, the guitarist said.
"At this point, I've spent more time with them than I have with my own family. I have seven brothers and one sister, but I spent more time with Brad and Todd — close time in buses, airplanes and hotels in different places around the world — than I have with anyone else on the planet. So I'm closer to these guys than anyone else on the planet. I know what they're thinking and they know what I'm thinking.
"That kind of thing, that kind of bond ... it's really indescribable."