November 30, 2016 Good Charlotte Shake Starland Ballroom Sayreville, NJ 11-16-16 w/ Big Jesus, Four Years Strong, & The Story So Far
Making a big comeback in the last few years, Pop Punk’s revival is more than just a nostalgic trip down memory lane, it is proof that the genre is still very relevant. With bands like Blink-182, Simple Plan, and Sum 41 making returns with new albums in 2016, joining the party with one of the biggest buzzes is none other than Pop Punk royalty, Good Charlotte. Releasing Youth Authority back in July, their first studio album in six years, just a month later, the news came down of one of the biggest Pop Punk tours of the year with the announcement of the Youth Authority Tour featuring Good Charlotte, The Story So Far, Big Jesus, and, on select dates, Set Your Goals, Four Year Strong, and Hit The Lights.
Also marking their first tour in six years, Good Charlotte began the run on October 23rd, with the US leg hitting twenty-four cities through November 23rd. A week prior to the Thanksgiving craze, on Wednesday, November 16th, the excitement found its way to Sayreville, New Jersey for an evening at Starland Ballroom. Just forty-eight hours following their stop in New York City, they managed another sell out in the Garden State.
Starting it all off was Atlanta, Georgia based band Big Jesus. Growing up on the Punk/Hardcore/Metal scene, they have created their own unique sound along the way. Originally formed back in 2009, the aspiring band consisting of Guitarists CJ Ridings and Thomas Gonzalez, Drummer Joe Sweat, and Bassist/Vocalist Spencer Ussery took the stage with a ton of enthusiasm.
Still early in the night, many were making their way into the venue as Big Jesus began their set. Mixing together their Alternative sound with some dreamy riffs and strong bass lines, they played songs such as “Always,” “SP,” and “Lock & Key.” A great table-setting performance, Ussery encouraged the crowd to come hang out with the band over at their merchandise table following their set. Those still unfamiliar with the band, check out their latest album, Oneirica, on spotify on today.
Next up was Massachusetts natives Four Year Strong. A well-established band, touring regularly through the years, Four Years Strong has been plugging away for many years now. Showing determination and hard work pays off, they have released four consecutive albums, which have peaked in the Billboard 200, including their latest, 2015’s self-titled effort. Spending the summer on Vans Warped Tour with Good Charlotte and The Story So Far on select dates, joining up on the Youth Authority Tour seemed to be a flawless fit.
Known for their energetic live shows, Guitarists/Vocalists Alan Day and Dan O’Connor, Drummer Jake Massucco, and Bassist Joe Weiss were met by an eruption of cheers. Being their last night on the tour, they knew they had to give it everything they had, and did just that. Taking off with “We All Float Down Here,” within minutes, crowd-surfers were fighting their way to the front of the stage. Keeping the momentum going, they rattled out favorites including “What the Hell is a Gigawatt?,” “Stuck in the Middle,” and “Go Down in History,” all while the crowd was going simply insane on the floor. Humbled for a chance to tour with Good Charlotte, O’Connor expressed his gratitude for the opportunity and said it was nothing less than an absolute blast before they closed out their set with “Wasting Time (Eternal Summer).” Scheduled to play on December 30th up in their hometown of Worcester, Four Years Strong are set to begin 2017 with a 10th anniversary tour across Europe.
Acting as the evenings direct support, California’s The Story So Far were amped up and ready to go. Also veterans on the scene, they are set to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their formation in 2017. Taking their name from the New Found Glory track by the same name, their brand of Pop Punk has seen much fan praise over the years. Often recognized for their melodic hooks, many consider their 2015 self-titled effort their Punk inspired album to date.
Adding to anticipation, while Guitarists Kevin Geyer and William Levy, Bassist Kelen Capener, and Drummer Ryan Torf were getting their instruments set on stage, Vocalist Parker Cannon reared his head out from behind the giant screen obstructing the stage to ignite chaos on the floor. A staple move from Cannon, the noise level peaked as the screen began to rise and their set started off with “Things I Can’t Change” and “Empty Space.” Also thanking Good Charlotte for taking them on tour, they continued on with songs such as “All Wrong,” “Bad Luck,” before finally slowing down with “Clairvoyant.”
Allowing the audience to catch their breath, the momentary mellow track was soon followed by the heavier and more ruckus “Roam” and “Framework.” Expressing praise toward the audience for their enthusiasm, they concluded with fan-favorite “Quicksand” as crowd-surfers rose in the air, hoping for one last chance to make it closer to the stage. After a busy 2016, The Story So Far are taking a much needed rest, but not before the second annual holiday show held on December 23rd out in Berkeley, so Northern California residents should not miss this special gig from the Walnut Creek heroes.
Rounding out the night was the main attraction, Good Charlotte. Originally come together twenty years ago, but introduced to the mainstream with their self-titled debut back in 2000, Good Charlotte came onto the scene at the peak of Pop Punk’s popularity. Often compared to Blink-182 by cynical critics, regardless, 2002’s The Young and the Hopeless was an introduction to Pop Punk for many young kids. Undeniably influential, the band continued to dominate with each passing album all the way through 2010’s Cardiology. Now back in full swing with Youth Authority, each jam features catchy choruses as well as brilliant melodies, making the live show a must see experience of newer and older material.
Leading the way, the Madden Brothers – Benji (guitar) and Joel (vocals) – accompanied by Billy Martin (guitar), Paul Thomas (bass), as well as Dean Butterworth (drums), wasted no time flashing back to the good old days opening the set with hits “The Anthem” followed by “The Story of My Old Man” and “My Bloody Valentine.” Revved up with the killer opening, voices were loud, hands were clapping, and cheers engulfed the packed venue. Showing no signs of letting up, Joel struck a nerve, expressing the need for women to stand up for themselves. Making it personal, expressing he did not want his little girl to grow in a world where women do not stand up for their rights, the message resonated with the audience as they segued into “Riot Girl.”
Moving into new material, “Life Changes” was the first of a handful of Youth Authority tracks to dress the setlist before “Makeshift Love” and “The Outfield.” Mixing in favorites, such as “The Motivation Proclamation,” “Hold On” came with a positive message of never giving up. Inspired by the music, fans of all ages sung along, and when it came time for “Little Things,” everyone united as one voice to sing along. Rounding out the show with the bouncy “Dance Floor Anthem,” “I Just Wanna Live,” and mega hit “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” Good Charlotte completed a flawless set with youthful authority, no pun intended.
Keeping the audience engaged and participating from start to finish, Joel proved to be personable as well as lively in his approach. Picking a setlist that no doubt sparked memories from many of the crowd’s youth, the interjection of new tracks was not out of place. With the Youth Authority Tour now complete, hopefully 2017 will bring more touring from Good Charlotte as they continue to spread the word of their return.