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Young and Hopeless tour jumping

Maureen Bush | Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The word of the night was “jump” as the “Young and Hopeless Tour” shook the floor of Chicago’s elegant concert venue, the Aragon Ballroom, on Sept. 23 and 24. It seems that every pre-teen in Chicago, with a parent in tow, came out to watch Mest, Something Corporate and headliner Good Charlotte. The nearly sold-out crowds did not leave disappointed on either night.

The first band of the night was Chicago-based pop punk band Mest. As the lights dimmed and the band came onto the stage, the crowd erupted. Front man Tony Lovato and his band ripped through their nine-song set in half an hour. The majority of their music was fast, punchy and filled with profanity, which made the kids cheer and their parents cringe. It was an R-rated performance at a PG concert.

As the lights dimmed a second time, Something Corporate, an up and coming band out of Orange County, took the stage. All eyes were glued to the inexhaustible front man, Andrew McMahon, as he pounded away on the brand new upright piano setup at center stage. The band was rounded out by Brian Ireland on drums, William Tell on guitar and backup vocals, Josh Partington on guitar, and the legendary Clutch on bass. This piano rock act looked like the odd man out, as they were the only band of the night whose members had neither mohawks nor excessive amounts of tattoos. But they kept the crowd jumping just as much as the other two acts did. Playing different nine-song sets each night, the band entertained the crowd with both old-time classics and new unreleased songs from their upcoming album, North, due out Oct. 21.

Something Corporate began each night with some of their fan favorite songs, such as “I Woke Up In A Car,” “Hurricane,” and their European single, “Punk Rock Princess.” Towards the middle of their sets each night, Something Corporate debuted new songs of their impending release, playing “Only Ashes” the first night, “Me and the Moon” the second night and their musically solid first single off North, “Space,” both nights. These songs prove that this young band has taken a step forward in the depth and maturity of their material from the fast and furious piano breakdown of “Only Ashes” to the slower and more melodic brand of music found in “Me and the Moon.”

After a taste of the new songs came a full plate of their old favorites, as the lights went pitch black except for one lone spotlight illuminating McMahon and his instrument. Shivers went down my spine as he played the opening notes to the 10-minute long ballad, “Konstantine.” This cult favorite is dripping with emotion and it was obvious that McMahon meant every word as he closed his eyes and moved to the music, hardly able to stay on his seat. On the second night, in the middle of “Konstantine,” he gave this song, which he never sings the same, a particular unique touch by looking out at a fan and saying, “This is for you. This whole thing is just for you.”

They finished up their set the first night by singing what is in my opinion their strongest song, “Hurricane,” which they opened with the next night. Their single, “iF yoU C Jordan,” received radio play in the U.S. and the largest crowd reaction of the night as McMahon took out his frustration with a high school bully by penning this anthem song which has made them famous. It seemed like the sweetest revenge as he beat the daylights out of his piano by sprinting across the stage and leaping up onto the keys, jumping up and down to the amusement of the crowd.

Something Corporate put on a fantastic show, proving that they are a class act band, whether they are playing before 50 people or 10,000. These boys are on the rise and will reach great heights in the near future.

And then came the moment the droves of adolescents were waiting for. As the lights dimmed for the last time, pop punk sensation Good Charlotte took the stage to the delight of their thousands of adoring and predominantly female fans, whose earsplitting shrieks combined with their instrumental intro and spectacular lighting forecasted how exciting these shows would be.

As the intro ended, this fivesome out of the Washington D.C. area ripped into their radio hit, “Anthem” which proclaims, “You! Don’t wanna be just like you.” This statement is obviously true, since the members of Good Charlotte aren’t like most pop bands and aren’t liked by most punk bands, as they remarked later in the show. The members of the band don’t look like typical musical stars either. They all wore black from head to toe, were covered in tattoos, and two members wore more eye makeup than most of the females in the audience (at least those who didn’t try to mimic the eyeliner tears made famous by guitarist and backup vocalist Benji Madden, who was also sporting a mohawk with leopard print on the rest of his head).

Benji’s twin brother, Joel, also sports a twin Mohawk and claims the other half of the spotlight as the lead singer. This dynamic duo is joined on stage by the remaining members of Good Charlotte – guitarist Billy Martin, bassist Paul Thomas and the newest addition to the band, drummer Chris Wilson, who made a point of coming out to sign autographs each night more than once.

As hardcore punk as they look, Good Charlotte plays a special brand of pop punk and put on a show that parents would be happy to have their children attend. They played for almost two hours both nights despite Joel’s warnings each night that he was sick. His illness didn’t seem to affect his energy level, which was huge all night long.

It was a near-perfect mix of songs with only one noticeable flaw – the lack of fan favorite, “East Coast Anthem,” which seems like a minute loss seeing as how they played a 20-song set well and “almost every song we can still remember,” Joel said. They noted while playing “Movin’ On” that they would be going away for a while to record a new album. “We’re moving on [in our music]. Are you coming with us?” asked Benji. He received a resounding “yes.”

Sound and lighting effects of thunder and lightning signaled the opening of “Hold On,” a more serious song about dealing with suicide. The highlight of their set was when they decided to slow down for a moment and pull out the acoustic guitars. They mentioned that they were happy that they got to play songs they didn’t usually get to play and they then started into “Emotionaless,” a song that is written like a letter to the Madden twins’ father, who abandoned them, their mother and sister when they were growing up. This was a very powerful moment in the show and there were several audience members brought to tears.

After the slowdown, things were brought right back up to speed again with a few quick songs, with the band ending the set with more jumping and screaming, “Lets break this floor!” as they transitioned into “Waldorf Worldwide,” dubbed “Chicago Worldwide,” for geographic purposes those nights. The floor pounded to the beat of the music as thousands of people jumped right up until the last note.

The band left the stage but returned for their three-song encore no more than a minute later, breaking into the title track for their latest release and the name of the tour, “The Young and the Hopeless.” They then played one of their oldest, but still most popular songs, “The Little Things,” which chronicles the twins’ growing up experience and the “little things” that would bring them down. The band finished up the night by playing their biggest hit up until this point, “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous,” which received the best crowd reaction.

Good Charlotte put on an excellent show. They know who their audience is and they play to and for that audience. They are wildly entertaining and excellent performers to which kids can relate through their songs about the difficulty of growing up. It is certain that these fans will be “movin’ on” with this band and they are bound to pick up more on the way.