Good Charlotte encourages fans to “hold on”

'Good Charlotte' encourages fans to "hold on"

Review: The pop-punk band illuminates S.I. Hall, spreads message of hope in the face of adversity.
Published: October 29, 2018
Good Charlotte live in Syracuse on Oct. 27, 2018
Good Charlotte frontman Benji Madden pumps up the Syracuse crowd on Saturday.

 

Hundreds of 20-something-year-olds had tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces during Good Charlotte’s performance Saturday evening. Arms were slung around shoulders and fingers were intertwined when the band turned their microphones to the crowd to let them sing lyrics like “don’t stop searching, it’s not over.” A bright white hue engulfed the stage as pastel, kaleidoscopic lights danced across the surrounding walls, creating an ethereal atmosphere that added to their message of hope.

The pop-rock band unified a room full of strangers at the New York State Fairgrounds on the cold and gloomy Saturday night, displaying a theme of inclusivity, spreading love and staying strong in the face of hardships. The group took to the stage at S.I. Hall to further their current tour promoting their seventh studio album, Generation RX, with support from The Dose, Knuckle Puck and Sleeping With Sirens.

Good Charlotte were inspired to pen their latest work after the accidental overdose death of 21-year-old rapper and mega-fan of the band, Lil Peep. The group felt a sense of responsibility and decided to use their influence to write songs that speak on the opioid crisis, self-medication and the battle with mental illness that has heavily affected the youth of today. The album mainly focuses on not giving up when life gets hard, a message that the band managed to perfectly display during their live performance.

At 9 p.m. the venue’s lights dimmed to a dark blue and “Generation RX,” an eerie and dark intro that repeats the question ”where does all of this pain come from?” was blasted through the speakers. The crowd’s cheers became louder as each member of the band walked on stage, and when Benji and Joel Madden appeared, the room electrified. Decked out in snapbacks, fingerless gloves and gold chains, they crashed straight into “Self Help,” a hard-hitting song featuring edgy guitar riffs, synths, and lyrics that counterbalance the first track’s question. “I’m ready for a reason to believe,” the brothers sang with an emotional and heartfelt energy that carried throughout the entire show.

Following a handful of quick, spunky older tracks that had the jam-packed room of fans hopping along to the pop-punk beats, Joel Madden dedicated their sixth song, “Riot Girl,” to all of the women in the room. This announcement is often made at concerts when a song is about love, sex or a pretty face. Madden, however, had a different intention.

“What does it even mean, ‘riot girl’,” he asked rhetorically. “In 2018, it means a lot, and that’s why I said it’s for all the girls here tonight. We’re singing it for all the girls that express themselves, stand up for themselves and speak their minds. Girls are going to save the world, I swear. We need you.” The speech earned claps and cheers of approval so loud that it was difficult to hear the beginning notes of the song, making it clear that his words of empowerment resonated with the audience.

Knucklepuck
Knucklepuck brought an uncanny energy to the show that riled up fans.

As the show progressed, the Madden brothers continued to take time in between their heavy-hitting pop-punk bangers to express their gratitude to the attendees for supporting them through the years, along with offering some advice. Before “Hold On,” an emotion-packed song that begs the listener to “hold on if you feel like letting go,” Benji Madden made a heartfelt suggestion to the audience.

“At some point each of us is going to be alone with ourselves,” he said. “And we have the choice to live or die. We’re all going to get hit with something that will affect our lives and knock the wind out of us. I want to encourage every single one of you, when you reach that moment, I want you to get back up and keep fighting. Each one of you is important and we’re so happy that you’re here tonight.”

As empowering as the brother’s dialogue was, the impeccable artistry displayed by the band brought the show to another level. The final three songs of the 16-track setlist were throwback tracks full of energetic instrumentals and vocals, despite the fact that they’d already been performing for an hour and a half. The five members of Good Charlotte were completely in sync, playing the bouncy guitar riffs and aggressive drum beats of “Dance Floor Anthem” and “I Just Wanna Live,” and finally closing the night with their anthemic classic: “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.”

The men of Good Charlotte are undoubtedly conscious of their role in their fans’ lives. After 22 years in the industry, they’ve mastered the art of making an impact not only with their music and lyrics, but with their in-person interactions during live events as well. Joel Madden’s final statement to the Central New York crowd solidified the band’s appreciation and love for their fanbase: “I’m so proud of you all.”

Syracuse Sleeping With Sirens
Kellin Quinn from Sleeping With Sirens demonstrates his vocal range.
Avatar for Alexa Piwowarski

is a Newhouse Goldring Arts Journalism graduate student with an interest in music and pop culture.