metal + hardcore
pop punk + alt-rock
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Pop punks drop a rock on Orange County girls – Review

At the very least, give credit to New Found Glory and Good Charlotte for getting teenage girls enthusiastic about rock that has real guitars and real drums.

More than that, those two pop-punk bands deserve to be saluted for the energy and enthusiasm they displayed at their show Wednesday night at the University of California, Irvine’s Bren Events Center.

But no one can applaud them for nuance or finesse. Their performances are like this: Go from zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds, and keep it there.

The kids who filled the Bren Center loved it. They screamed, sang along (especially the females), pumped their fists, and jumped into the air and into each other in the mosh pit created by the general-admission arrangement. Certainly, dozens of young men and women woke up very sore Thursday morning.

Which means this – the audience was satisfied. The standard for any entertainment event is the reply to the following question: Would a customer pay to see it again? From the response the audience gave at this event, that answer was a definite yes.

New Found Glory and Good Charlotte, KROQ favorites both, joined forces for what is called the Civic Tour, promoted by a certain car company (and let something nice be said about corporate sponsorship, which can keep ticket prices affordable – in this case $24, before Ticketmaster charges).

Also on hand for Wednesday’s show was the Movielife – which opened the show that started right on time, at 6:30 p.m., although fewer than 20 percent of the audience had made it through the turnstiles by then – and MxPx.

The Movielife played a brisk seven-song set from the pop-punk menu that was the evening’s only fare. MxPx took the stage to a taped rendition of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” keyboard intro, played a couple of the song’s chords, then launched into its own songs, the highlight of which might have been the yet-to-be-released “Well Adjusted.” MxPx’s Yuri Ruley was the best drummer of the night – all four bands’ drummers played with power, but Ruley actually threw in some fills and other skillful touches, and generally displayed the most creative use of the drum kit.

Then came Good Charlotte, whose popularity is growing fast. With hits like “Little Things” and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” peppering its set, Good Charlotte produced a crowd-pleasing performance that displayed personality and a commitment to entertain.

But New Found Glory was better. The band played with an edge Good Charlotte lacked, and exhibited better musicianship. All the songs off New Found Glory’s latest release, “Sticks and Stones,” sizzled, and “Dressed to Kill,” from its self-titled 2000 disc, might have been the highlight of the night.

So, it was a good night to catch the best of what this hybrid genre has to offer.

Yet the manner in which these guys performed their brand of punk is much different from the way this sort of music was presented when these musicians were babies, and before their audiences were born. Punk in the late 1970s rebelled against the excesses that had just about taken over rock ‘n’ and roll, including elaborate lights and other accoutrements.

Back then, no punk band would dare put its name on the bass drum, let alone on some lighted backdrop. But New Found Glory’s name was prominent both ways, and Good Charlotte had the cover of its latest album on a huge backdrop. Flashy lights were part of both bands’ sets.

This power-pop punk lacks the pointed anger of the pioneering punkers of 25 years ago but reaches a wider audience because of its professionalism. These bands seem to rehearse a lot more and a lot harder than did their predecessors.

And, this time around, the little girls understand.

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