While some older bands capitalize on nostalgia with endless 10-year tours, Good Charlotte is not only releasing new music, but also attempting to tour around it. The Generation Rx Tour visited Phoenix on Friday and for the older fans, there was plenty of nostalgia to go around.
Sadly for the openers, the early crowd had no love for the relatively new pop punk bands chosen by Good Charlotte. Los Angeles group The Dose played a short set to a sparse audience before yielding the stage to Chicago group Knuckle Puck. Despite frontman Joe Taylor’s attempts to get the audience jumping, very few obliged- and fewer still seemed to know the words to the songs or even who the band was in the first place.
“I still see some people with their arms crossed- you guys good?” he only semi-jokingly addressed the crowd. Despite the lukewarm reception, the band played hard through songs from their new album, sprinkling in old favorites that brought genuine fans out of the woodwork towards the end of their set.
Former scene darlings Sleeping with Sirens provided direct support, receiving about the same reception as the bands before them. Opening with “Do It Now Remember It Later”, a few more people sang along, but the rest of the crowd seemed to barely be paying attention. Singer Kellin Quinn struggled with the high notes the band is known for, and failed to inspire crowd participation.
As someone who frequented Sleeping with Sirens tours in the past, hearing the band’s “classics” was still a lot of fun. It’s clear they decided to keep the energy going, omitting fan favorite “Roger Rabbit” in favor of the original mix to “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn”. The band even pulled out the sassy Matty Mullins-assisted “Congratulations” before closing the set with “If You Can’t Hang” and “Kick Me”. While Sleeping with Sirens can still shred, their vocal struggle put a damper on what used to be a solid set. At this point in the evening, the crowd was already shifting, clearly ready for the headliner to take the stage.
Good Charlotte entered to much fanfare and fog, jumping right into “The Anthem”. The fans suddenly woke up and went hard, the energy in the room spiking dramatically.
Joel and Benji Madden were the focal points of the stage, getting the front section riled up for “The Story of My Old Man” and “Keep Your Hands Off My Girl”. After a frenetic start, Joel began what would be the first portion of a Good Charlotte Ted Talk. He spoke at length between songs, telling stories of how ill Benji was onstage that night (in fact, he’d been brought from the hospital immediately prior to the show), the origins of Good Charlotte and even polled the crowd to determine the direction of the night’s setlist.
With most of the fans clamoring for the old songs, that’s where Good Charlotte remained for the majority of the evening. The band added very few songs from their newest albums, sticking instead with “Riot Girl” (Joel thanked the female fans profusely for coming to the shows over the years), “Girls & Boys” and “Little Things”.
“We’re trying to make this legendary for you tonight!” Joel told the fans, who roared their approval.
It’s nice to hear the band’s early material, but one of best moments came with the addition of “Life Changes” in the middle of the set. One of the band’s best newer songs to date, this track never fails to pump up an audience. Joel continued his motivational speeches every few songs, expounding upon different topics before the band played “Hold On” (Good Charlotte’s self-professed most important song) and “Predictable”.
It wouldn’t be a Good Charlotte show without the classic closing duo of “Dance Floor Anthem” and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. The energy in The Van Buren’s space was infectious, a room of different generations jumping and singing in unison. Good Charlotte has been kicking for over 20 years and, with the conclusion of the show, it’s clear that there continues to be a demand for the message they’re sending. So here’s to Good Charlotte making even more music- when they visit, we know we’ll hear it all.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel