Best Buy Theater, New York, NY
November 29th, 2011
Concert Review: Simple Plan at the Best Buy Theater
I have very vivid memories of jumping on a coach bus with 35 or so gentlemen, heading towards Montreal, Canada for a bachelor party. Once we hit the border, several men on board with previous legal trouble in the states were refused entry into the country, and in a scramble, the trip was quickly re-routed to Burlington, Vermont, where we would spend the next three days partying non-stop, eating great food, meeting good people, and having the time of our life. As the trip wound down and we hopped back onto the bus for a long ride home, we all seemed to coin the same catchphrase- ‘Burlington, Vermont…Who the eff knew?” For us, Tuesday night’s Simple Plan performance at the Best Buy Theater was the Burlington, Vermont of concert performances this year.
Looking back a decade ago, a glut of similar sounding pop-punk acts all seemed to mesh together with the same catchy hooks and high-pitched frontmen reminding you of your own teen angst and your distaste for homework. As the last ten years have progressed, some bands have fallen by the wayside, giving way for another act to take their spot. Montreal’s Simple Plan came to light beneath the spotlight held by bands like Blink-182 and Good Charlotte, stayed the course through the Fall Out Boys and My Chemical Romances, and seemingly every other band that plays the Warped Tour each year. And last night, closing out their 2011 ‘Get Your Heart On Tour,’ the band marked yet another strong year for a largely unheralded band, with their full lineup still intact after all these years.
Now, nobody is mistaking Simple Plan for The Beatles- it’s highly unlikely the Lennon-McCartney duo would release a hook like “I’m a dick…I’m addicted to you.” Their lyrics can be shallow but are always fun, with unmistakably catchy choruses that need to be coaxed out of your brain so that you can stop singing them aloud. Remembering many of the band’s early singles from our college days, and remaining largely unaware of Simple Plan goings-on since the mid-2000′s, we didn’t know what to expect entering the jam-packed theater on Tuesday night. Judging by the reaction of the rabid young fans in the house however, the band has been keeping themselves plenty busy since we last checked in.
The house lights touched down at 9:30pm, setting off a collection of screams in unison that would rival a fire alarm. Jolting out to the stage together came the five piece act, looking somewhat older but remained the same immature band we remembered back from when MTV still played videos. Frontman Pierre Bouvier still has that same high, melodic voice, often reaching the very pitch that you only wish you had the chops to. Meanwhile, guitarist Jeff Stinco still prods the crowd with references to his ‘wood,’ ‘balls,’ and “taking a shower with someone on [their] bus,” recreating the same caliber hijinx that we remember doing when we were first discovering Simple Plan’s music. The young, mostly female fans seemed to revel in front of the band with many of them crowd surfing to the front of the stage (young girls!), but most of them crooning right along with Bouvier.
Still touring off of the release of their fourth major label album- June’s “Get Your Heart On”- Simple Plan’s 90 minute, 19 song set spliced in seven new songs seamlessly with their familiar singles. The revelation for us became just how many of their songs were truly nostalgic pop rock anthems from our youth. The aforementioned “Addicted,” the slower “Welcome to My Life,” and the fast paced “I’m Just A Kid,” showcasing the band’s alternating harmonies and comfort with their fans. Often times throughout the show in fact, each of them would step up on top of a wooden crate, giving them a better view of the raucous crowd, egging them on while encouraging them to be safe in a bed of crowd surfers and circle pits. Between mentions of genitals and horniness, the band genuinely addressed the crowd in what would be their final stop on this run in front of perhaps “the best New York City crowd we’ve ever played in front of.” If the medley of Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You,” Taio Cruz’ “Dynamite,” and Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” didn’t rile the assembly of concertgoers into a frenzy previously, rocking out to the band’s biggest hit “I’d Do Anything” certainly forced their hand at crowd participation, with the entire venue singing aloud in unison. The lively “Shut Up!” started the show like a launching pad, while “Perfect” was the ideal encore to bring the crowd back down to earth before sending them on their way home. The show was an unrelenting and fun return to nostalgia for this writer for a pop rock band who clearly continues to resonate with thralls of young fans today- judging by the hundreds of sweaty teenagers emerging from the standing room only section on the floor on Tuesday night, looking completely exhausted but completely content. Simple Plan…who the eff knew?
- Jane Van Arsdale