After breaking their four-year hiatus with a four show mini-tour earlier this year, Good Charlotte performed at Echostage on Nov. 16. The Youth Authority tour featured both Good Charlotte and The Story So Far to promote Good Charlotte’s new album, Youth Authority, that was released over the summer. Although The Story So Far is a newer face on the pop punk scene, their fresher take on alternative rock played a perfect balance to the old school angst of Good Charlotte.
The first opener of the night was an alternative rock band from Atlanta, Georgia called Big Jesus (stylized BIG JESUS), who promoted their debut album, Oneiric. With their fuzzy, dream-like vocals, they were reminiscent of earlier 90’s alternative bands with a psychedelic edge. The stage was awash in blue light and lead singer Spencer Ussery crooned in falsetto to a half full room as The Story So Far and Good Charlotte fans slowly trickled in.
The next opener of the night, Four Year Strong, injected some much-needed energy into the crowd (Thanks in part to a 6 ft something 300 pound man who single handedly got the mosh pit started). Whereas people head bobbed appreciatively to Big Jesus, Four Year Strong had the crowd fist pumping and shouting at the top of their lungs. With a much more aggressive, hardcore punk sound, Four Year Strong got people’s lungs and legs warmed up for the upcoming acts with songs like “Heroes Get Remembered, “Legends Never Die” and “Stuck in the Middle.” After they finished their set, there was a noticeable hum of anticipation in the air as the crowd slowly compacted itself towards the stage.
When The Story So Far took the stage, coming out hard with “Things I Can’t Change,” the pit erupted into raw energy, jumping and pushing until the whole crowd was swaying. Lead singer Parker Cannon seemed uncharacteristically mellow, choosing to remain stationary around his mic stand when, in past concerts, he would have been stomping around the stage. He blamed a bad back but achy ailments aside, he delivered on the vocal front. He didn’t seem to be in the mood for talking, not saying much other than introducing songs and thanking the crowd for coming out. Despite this he poured heartfelt angst into every song just as he does on the recorded tracks. The Story So Far displayed stylistic flexibility in their show, covering “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin in perfect pop-punk fashion, and then slowing down for a poignant performance of “Clairvoyant.” They finished their set with “Quicksand,” leaving the crowd buzzing and primed for Good Charlotte.
Good Charlotte chose to open with arguably their most popular song, “The Anthem.” It was a bold choice that succeeded in instantly hyping up the crowd. Although one would assume that the purpose of the Youth Authority tour would be to promote their album of the same name, out of a seventeen-song set list, only three of those songs were from their newest album. Instead, the group chose to perform hits like “Girls & Boys,” “Little Things,” and “I Don’t Wanna Be in Love.” Aside from the flashing lights overhead, the stage was void of any real props, with only a simple screen that occasionally flashed the album artwork for Youth Authority and an illuminated “GC.” The Madden twins were feeling talkative, constantly checking in with the crowd and chatting between each song. Lead singer Joel Madden frequently had the crowd sing along with him, pointing the mic at the crowd or asking them to repeat after him. Before they played “Hold On,” their motivational “just wait, life gets better” song, lead guitarist Benji Madden addressed the crowd, saying, “There’s not a church that can save you, there’s not a song. It’s you. You’ve got to save you.” The crowd was as rowdy as ever, with a steady stream of crowd surfers overhead and the crowd jumping in tandem. Before ending the show with “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” Joel urged the crowd to “[b]e good to each other. Take care of each other. Be kind to each other. Because the world needs it right now.”
A couple of fresh bruises and four incredible sets (and hours) later, the crowd slowly began to file out. As the lights turned on, you could see that everyone from squealing middle schoolers to balding old men had come out to see the show. With so many pop-punk powerhouses coming together for a single show, the Youth Authority tour followed through on its promise of a head banging time of your life.