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Good Charlotte and the Cool Kids rock the Show 2008

Jim McGuire | Monday, September 1, 2008

The Joyce Center got a little cooler Friday night – and it wasn’t just the hockey rink behind the main floor – when Chicago hip-hop duo The Cool Kids and multi-platinum recording artists Good Charlotte headlined The Show 2008.

Although playing to a less-than-sold-out crowd, The Show stayed true to its mission of bringing an up-and-coming act along with a better known (and arguably past its prime) one to Notre Dame to open the school year.

The opening act, which came on a little after 7:30, was Chicago-based punk-pop alternative band “Absent Star.” “We’re not The Cool Kids” was all lead singer Derek Ingersoll had to say before the band launched into their twenty minute set. Their sound was a bit like “Oasis” with an edge: driving guitar parts, melancholy lyrics and vocals that went from straight muttering to smoothly forceful.

Although they put in a solid set – some of their songs, like “Give In To Me,” would fit right in on an AFI album – “Absent Star” didn’t get much of a reaction as the crowd waited for “The Cool Kids” to arrive.

The Cool Kids, the first headliner, are also a Chicago group, but with a very different sound. Describing themselves as “the black Beastie Boys,” The Cool Kids are a hip-hop duo whose sound hearkens back to the beat-heavy rap style of the 1980s: a rougher, house party vibe without the manufactured sound that overpowers mainstream hip-hop.

The Cool Kids, Antoine “Mikey Rocks” Reed and Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersoll, made a name for themselves in the Chicago rap scene via their popular MySpace page and by opening for rappers like M.I.A. (of the song “Paper Planes” from the “Pineapple Express” commercials).

While all of the songs in their set had great hooks, like the use of the turn-signal beep sound at the start of “Box of Rocks,” the duo’s wordplay was an example of what rap should be. Each song acted as a separate story, peppered with a little pop culture and a great deal of irony.

The duo didn’t sample much off of other tracks, but when they did, they put their own spin on it, like when they used Fergie’s “Glamorous” in the party anthem “Bassment Party.” While their set wasn’t very long, totaling at about 40 minutes, The Cool Kids did give the audience a taste of old-school rap with a fun sound.

Thirty minutes after The Cool Kids wrapped, Good Charlotte finally graced the stage. The pop-rock band headlined by Joel and Benji Madden, a.k.a. Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton’s better halves, first hit it big in 2002 when their album “The Young and the Hopeless” spawned a slew of hits, including “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Good Charlotte’s power-pop sound helped give their early hits like “The Anthem” a bit of an edge and differentiated them from groups like Blink 182.

However, the group was accused of “selling out” once they hit it big, and their popularity sputtered. Now, Good Charlotte seems to be on an upward slope again, thanks in no small part to publicity from Ms. Hilton and Ms. Ritchie, with new hits like “Dance Floor Anthem (I Don’t Want to Be in Love).”

Good Charlotte tried to pepper their set with some of their newer work, but the songs that really got the crowd going were their earlier pop hits like “Boys & Girls” and “I Just Want to Live.” All their hits were played with the same energy and pop that made the public like them 6 years ago, which gave Good Charlotte’s performance a real kick it might have lacked. While their between song banter ranged from hilarious to painful – note to Joel Madden: most Notre Dame students have never even seen an illegal substance – the band hit all of their big sing-along hits out of the park. “Boys & Girls” and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” make it fun to listen to your playlist from high school again.

While the acts at this year’s The Show were as disparate as can be, The Cool Kids and Good Charlotte both delivered stellar sets that kept the audience in it the entire night.