concert reviews

Being Good With Good Charlotte
Good Charlotte at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Saturday 21 October 2006

"Hey! You just hit a girl, bro!" shouted Good Charlotte singer Joel Madden in the middle of "S.O.S.," pointing at a fan in the audience and signaling the band to stop playing. As a bouncer escorted the fan away, Madden laid down the ground rules for Saturday evening's sold-out show at the 9:30 club: No hitting each other.

Then the pop-punk group continued its rambunctious music, with songs that extolled individualism ("The Anthem") and criticized extravagance ("Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"). Even a song about being bullied by rich kids ("Little Things") bore a sense of empowerment rather than bitterness. These themes aren't new -- particularly not in punk music -- but the young crowd danced and sang along as if Good Charlotte had invented the concepts.

The show was mostly a barrage of volume and pounded chords, but two new songs broke from that trend: The verses of "Misery" were completely bass-driven, complemented by the vocals of Madden and his twin brother, Benji. "Keep Your Hands Off My Girl" would fit at any dance club, its forceful beats and insistent vocal rhythm sounding like a speedier, gothier version of Cake's "The Distance." The crowd reacted by jumping in rhythm and -- heeding Madden's wish -- thrusting their fists in the air rather than at each other.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 23 October 2006; Page C07
.: Selected discography: The Chronicles of Life & Death (Good Charlotte, 2004); The Young and the Hopeless (Good Charlotte, 2002); Good Charlotte (Good Charlotte, 2000).