Good Charlotte cranks nostalgia to 11 at the Warfield

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In recent years, pop culture turned left and tumbled headfirst into Nostalgia Creek. “Star Wars” returned from its steaming-prequel-swamp grave. Drake claimed to have “made a career off reminiscin’ ” and we’re getting a “Power Rangers” movie for crying out loud. But that’s not a bad thing, especially if Good Charlotte also makes a comeback to remind us of our awkwardly angsty pop-punk days. On Tuesday night at the Warfield, Good Charlotte did just that in electrifyingly energetic fashion.

Good Charlotte’s Warfield show was the second stop on their Youth Authority Tour, its first following a five-year hiatus. The stage was sparsely decorated with just a pair of glowing letters, G and C. The night’s focus was on the band, a group of pop-punk vets hungry to perform again. “This is like our first date,” singer Joel Madden said. “I can’t stop smiling.”

Like any good first date, there was never a dull moment during the night. Good Charlotte kicked off the show with “Anthem,” a rousing nod to the band’s early days that set the mood for a nostalgia-filled night. The whole theater erupted with a resounding proclamation of youthful rebellion as the entire audience sang “I don’t ever wanna be you, don’t wanna be just like you.”

Good Charlotte maintained high levels of energy throughout the night by performing a setlist that largely adhered to old hits. Joel and his twin brother/rhythm guitarist Benji uttered the words “old songs” on a few occasions, garnering hearty cheers each time. Performances of Good Charlotte throwbacks such as “Boys and Girls” and “The Motivation Proclamation” punctuated the night with audience sing-alongs and near-constant rhythmic bouncing. The night’s peak came with “Little Things,” the band’s first song on its first record.

In addition to performing fan favorite songs, Joel fed the night’s appetite for nostalgia by reminiscing with the audience. “How many of you guys listened to us in middle school or high school?” he asked, which prompted an enthusiastic response. “I like to think we all grew up together,” he said. Joel continued by recounting his experience in meeting his wife, Nicole Richie, at a Good Charlotte concert. He asked how many in attendance met their significant others at a Good Charlotte show, which likewise earned cheers.

Despite a firm emphasis on Good Charlotte’s past, the band affirmed its future by performing songs from its comeback release, Youth Authority. While the number of new tunes were kept to a minimum, songs like “Life Changes” and “The Outfield” reminded audiences that they were watching a Good Charlotte that had the benefit of maturing over the course of a five-year hiatus. This was a Good Charlotte that had time to get married, experience parenthood and become big brothers for a number of young bands such as 5 Seconds of Summer and Big Jesus, which opened earlier that night.

Good Charlotte’s role as industry mentors became apparent when Benji urged the audience to persevere despite hardships that they may face, an intimate change of pace amid a night of face-melting power chords and rousing sing-alongs. He recounted the band’s early days when he and Joel hit the road with only guitars and $50, saying that music had saved his life on a number of occasions. “Always go to music when you need a place to go,” he said before launching into “Hold On,” a plea for suicide prevention. If pop-punk is synonymous with angst, Good Charlotte delivers it in spades but with a reassuring pat on the back. Maybe a hug, too.

Good Charlotte closed the show with (arguably) its most well-known, most nostalgic song, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” It was one last winking nod to the days gone by — a finale ripped from the definitive soundtrack of 2002. Everyone in attendance sang along to the lyrics penned in the era of American Idol; a time when “Even Stevens” was still on the Disney Channel, and the iPod was in its infancy. Back then, Good Charlotte was neither rich nor famous, and in Joel’s words, “every show was a pop-punk show.”

Ah, the good old days.

Contact Harrison Tunggal at [email protected].