Whilst I could barely contain my excitement upon returning from the ticket booth, everyone I boasted to about the latest tickets to be added to the line-up adorning my fridge door refused to believe that the tickets were legitimate. My boss, in particular, mentioned numerous times how absurd he thought it that Good Charlotte were to be performing a Weezer tribute show. Amongst his list of concerns was his belief – which I did not disagree with – that there are likely to be very few Weezer fans who are also Good Charlotte fans. But, I countered, as a fan of both, this was one of those rare dreamGigs.
Good Charlotte play Weezer’s ‘Blue Album,’
The JD Set at The Forum, Melbourne, November 10, 2011
Amy Meredith opened the evening, and although I didn’t see a lot of their set due to the unforgivably long queues for entrance, what I did get to hear sounded good. The band seem to have come a long way since their self-titled EP (better known as the Dingley Rock City CD) and have found a more consistent sound. They’ve gained a British indie-rock vibe at some point during their journey, and stylish new hair for Christian, but none of that is any cause for complaint.
In between bands, a DJ played a set that featured every song I always wished I could hear in a night club but never did, including songs by Fountains Of Wayne, Avril, and Rancid. Meanwhile, a girl wearing spoons as jewellery confessed to me that she was looking forward to hearing Only In Dreams while an older woman who I had asked to hold my drink professed her love for me, Amy Meredith, Good Charlotte, whoever Weezer are, and AC/DC. Needless to say, the corporate sponsorship meant that Jack Daniels cocktails were reasonably priced.
When Good Charlotte emerged on stage it was without fanfare, and the uproarious applause died down quickly as they broke immediately into My Name Is Jonas. It was immediately apparent that it was quite a flat rendition, and highlighted the fact that many of the audience didn’t realise that this would be a tribute show and were unfamiliar with the material. Indeed, Joel Madden himself would later observe that ‘There are… what? Five people here who know The Blue Album?’ I joined that particular subset of five at the front and centre of the stage, where other audience members expressed their dissatisfaction at the fact that anyone should be singing or dancing. A girl with whom my body had come into contact called me a jerk, and I asked if she knew how to do a concert. Perhaps not the most articulate response, but I was satisfied when she stomped her foot on the floor and shrieked ‘What does that even mean!?’
Luckily the band seemed to get more into spirit of the event by the end of the song, and by the slow-build that is The World Has Turned, they were sounding pretty good and I – along with the few other Weezer fans in the room – were enjoying ourselves. Most of the songs didn’t deviate too far from their source material, but Benji and Joel did do some interesting adlibs over the conversations of Undone… which the bulk of the audience seemed to enjoy. It kind of highlighted how an album tribute gig like this can be problematic. Weezer’s debut is without a doubt a fantastic album, but, like any album, it has its own lulls and peaks. It was great to hear the songs, but the ‘tribute’ portion of the night might have been better received had it been presented as ‘Good Charlotte playing the hits of Weezer.’ Because the audience was so quiet during the Weezer component of the night, Joel was able to respond to my admittedly ludicrous requests for songs from other Weezer albums, like I Want You To and Island In The Sun, before silencing me with a fantastic rendition of Say It Ain’t So.
And with the closing of the Weezer tribute, Good Charlotte took a brief break and returned for what the majority of the crowd really wanted – a solid set of the band’s own singles. Opening strongly with The Anthem, I was surprised to hear so many of the recent poppier songs from Cardiology included on a night like this. Nevertheless, it was a varied set that seemed to please, and – whilst there were favourite singles omitted – crowd favourites like Riot Girl and Motivation Proclamation were played to perfection amongst the radio hits.
Good Charlotte playing Weezer was an interesting experiment, but it looks like my boss was right. Judging by the packed theatre’s silence during Weezer, it didn’t exactly pay off. But the full Good Charlotte set seemed to please everyone, whether they’d been bopping at the front to the Weezer covers or not, and it was a rare treat to see a band who frequent stadiums playing in one of Melbourne’s finest music venues.