Benji Madden of Good Charlotte
Deryck Whibley of Sum 41
Joel Madden of Good Charlotte
Story and photos by Karen BondowskiThe curtain slowly lifted and the fog started forming clouds on the stage and then disappeared quietly into the darkness of the pit. As the lights gently flickered on stage, you could make out what seemed to be a graveyard as part of their set design. An idea from Tim Burton perhaps? One by one, members of Good Charlotte strolled onto the stage, taking their time to find their way through the eerie path to get the adventure started. Joel Madden (guitarist, singer), twin brother Benji (guitarist), Billy Martin (guitarist), Paul Thomas (bassist) and Chris Wilson (drums) took their stand on the cloudy floor, waved to the crowd and took in a collective deep breath as they started their journey with one of their big hits "The Anthem." While not achieving anthem status it was, nonetheless choppy and spirited while trying to maintain it's originiality.
The two-thirds filled Eagles Ballroom got a big dose of what today's pop-punk looks and sounds like. They can hide behind their multiple tattoos, goth make-up and piercings, but they haven't found the soul of punk. Sneering, without the anger, and fearing to find where the danger lurks, the band seem to be satisfied where they are - as the kings of bubblegum punk. The band, hailing from Washington D.C., still have an attitude. An attitude that might be put to better use in ditching school than in overthrowing the government. The boys still put out some chunky rhythms and choruses that make you howl the lines long after the song is over. They hit some high notes on the elastic, yet slow "Girls and Boys" - a nod to the dance music of the 80s. On "S.O.S" GC put the power back in the ballad and reeled off some interesting chord changes. "The World Is Black" was uninspired and better left as a long, lost B-side. Taking off with another hit was "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." With heart pounding drums and simple beats, Joel made the harmonies soar. The boys hit-the-nail-on-the-head with the lyrics:
"I'd like to see them spend the week livin' life out on the street
I don't think they would survive
If they could spend a day or two walking in someone else's shoes
I think they'd stumble and they'd fall"
Just hopefully they won't ever forget about the Average Joes in this world or where they came from.
With the crowd containing older as well as newer fans, GC gave it an even split between new and old songs. Some poppy, others more serious. The boys can still rock - even if they forgot to offend along the way.
Before Sum 41 made their appearance, they played a short film. Cone and Stevo get in fight while playing basketball. Steveo beats Cone to a bloody pulp and then cooks him for supper. Deryck and Dave come over to Stevo's for supper and Deryck asks what they're eating? Stevo then turns around with a huge knife in his hand and yells "YOU!!!" Then the screen crashes to the floor and Stevo, looking maniacal, comes onto the stage in his "blood soaked" smock and ran around with a "butcher knife" before taking his spot behind the drumset.
Attending the same school of music as Good Charlotte, but graduating with passing grades, Sum 41 knows exactly where to put the edge in their music. Even the father of punk, Iggy Pop thought enough of them to appear on "Little Know it All," off of his latest album. The boys from Canada burst onto the stage with a ton of energy and lit into "We're all to Blame." The melancholy opening bridged nicely into a buzz saw chorus. Singer Deryck Whibley, sporting new shaggy, black hair, quietly started singing the beginning of "Still Waiting"
"So am I still waiting
For this world to stop hating?"
Was it a covert reaction to the recent presidential election?
On "Over My Head," Deryck and Dave Baksh traded guitar licks, chop for chop turning the song into a feeding frenzy as Cone McCaslin (bass) and Stevo Jocz (drums) built a chaotic foundation. On "Pain for Pleasure" Deryck and Stevo switched spots while Stevo sang deeply, Deryck pounded the skins with abandon. The guitars swirled in and out like some monster '70s arena rock. Other highlights of the evening were: "Fat Lip," "The Bitter End," "88," "Pieces" and "In Too Deep." While Sum 41 is certainly not reinventing punk, they defintaly have their finger on the pulse.
Cone and Deryck
Joel and Benji
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