When Good Charlotte last played here in October 2002, their “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous” was about how the other half lives and they barely filled the 1,500-capacity Rave in Milwaukee. Since then, of course, the band’s sophomore album, The Young and the Hopeless, has gone platinum, and this time through the Brew City they moved upstairs to the much larger Eagles Ballroom, where they sold out 4,000 tickets in a couple of days and packed the place for Friday’s show.
They had a little help from their friends this time, too, as they were joined by New Found Glory, Less Than Jake and the Disasters on the 2003 Civic Tour. The four-hour show gave fans a head start on the upcoming festival season, with each band jacking up the crowd more than the previous one. Clearly there for the co-headliners, those in attendance gave respect to openers the Disasters, a revved-up classic punk band fronted by former Agnostic Front member Roger Miret. The New York group’s 20-minute set was short but supercharged, featuring a cover of the Clash’s “Career Opportunities.”
Less Than Jake took the stage next, and since Good Charlotte and New Found Glory used to open up for the Gainesville, Florida, ska-punks, it was no surprise that most in the audience seemed familiar with the band’s material. Led by frenetic singer/guitarist Chris and equally energetic bass player Roger (who also shared lead vocal duties), the band managed to cover most of their 10-year career in their 35-minute set. They also threw in “Ghosts of You and Me” and “She’s Gonna Break Soon” from their upcoming album, Anthem (due May 20), which shows the band moving in a more melodic and, well, anthemic, direction.
Good Charlotte and New Found Glory are listed as the Civic Tour’s “co-headliners,” and the T-shirts on the mostly teenage crowd looked to be divided equally between the two bands despite Good Charlotte’s bigger chart success. For this night, at least, Good Charlotte “opened” for New Found Glory, cranking things up with “Lifestyles” and not letting up for their hour-long spot.
The band’s amalgam of punk, pop and arena rock comes across even stronger live than on record, and they’ve clearly tapped into something with their self-deprecating, goofy yet unironic take on being young and an outsider (best captured in “The Anthem”). From pre-teen girls to college guys, almost everyone in the audience sang a long with every tune, from the bitter “The Story of My Old Man” to their latest single, “Girls and Boys” (see “Good Charlotte Duck Blonde Barbies, Seek To Moonlight As Producers, A&R Guys ).
Though weighted more heavily toward material from The Young and the Hopeless, Good Charlotte also played plenty from their self-titled 2000 debut, including the sing-a-long “Little Things,” “‘Waldorfworldwide” and “East Coast Anthem.” Throughout, lead singer Joel Madden leaned over the crowd from center stage while his twin brother, Benji (hair dyed in a pink-and-black leopard motif), rocked out to his left. The Maddens kept between-song banter to a minimum; save for thanking veteran fans and welcoming the newbies, they pretty much let the music do the talking with fat, crunchy guitar riffs and plenty of wave-your-hands choruses.
The same went for New Found Glory, who finished the night off with an even more intense hour of their own. The Florida emo-punkers, led by hyperkinetic singer Jordan Pundik, don’t quite carry the same melodic impact as Good Charlotte, but they make up for it in sheer sonic punch. Focusing mainly on material from their 2002 album Sticks and Stones, guitarists Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein provided a buzzing contrast to Good Charlotte’s bass-and-drums heavy mix. The band’s lyrics conveyed an upbeat, screw-you attitude (as with their biggest hit, “My Friends Over You”), and even if the material wasn’t quite as catchy or familiar as Good Charlotte’s, New Found Glory provided a positive-energy end to the night.