Simple Plan

support Roam + The Bottom Line
author PP date 23/05/16 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Simple Plan are no strangers to Copenhagen nor Store Vega, having played here numerous times in the past, most recently four years ago to a relatively packed crowd. Yet tonight, the venue is oddly empty, with only about a third of the downstairs floor occupied despite upstairs being completely closed, suggesting the 450 capacity Lille Vega would've been a more appropriate choice this time around. It's surprising considering the band has just released a new album, but perhaps the fact that it's a Monday night show during an exam period for a lot of youngsters has something to do with it. That they still charge 250 DKK a t-shirt is frankly ridiculous profiteering (not to even mention the expensive backstage VIP pass experience), but nonetheless, the small crowd makes the best of a bad situation and the show turns out okay in the end. But first, let's talk support bands.

The Bottom Line

UK's The Bottom Line are arguably the best support band for Simple Plan in existence. Not only are they almost identical soundwise (save for the punk rock opening track), but their dramatic showmanship feels handmade for the big stages and young, naive audiences like tonight's Simple Plan crowd. Nearly every song is characterized by mid-song crowd control, whether it's asking the crowd to lift their middle fingers up in the air for "I Still Hate You" and teaching them sing-alongs for it, or requesting people to jump around, wave their hands left and right, or to even kneel down and explode up Slipknot style during "Record Player".

The Bottom Line

In the meantime, the band members on stage are bouncing synchronously and taking every opportunity to get up on the pedestals positioned at the front of the stage to rise above the audience. You can't blame them for a lack of enthusiasm nor a lack of gimmicks: the singer puts on a sailor and brings out a large air mattress to crowd surf and sing on, which is just before they cover Wheatus' "Teenage Dirtbag" in a punked up version of the song. It's all super cheesy, but the band are tight and charismatic, throwing guitars around, exchanging run-and-jump high fives while crossing the stage, and have no issues whatsoever in getting the crowd to wave, bounce, and sing along to the music. A good warm up, albeit not exactly suitable for music fans with pop allergy.

7

ROAM

ROAM is one of those bands that's just way better live than they are on record because their breakneck speed easycore with call/response alternating vocals and pop punk melodies is best witnessed in a high-energy format, which isn't necessarily captured particularly well on their studio releases. "Warning Sign" at first gets the crowd excited, but given its roughened edges and a faster pace than any Simple Plan song, it quickly becomes clear that the crowd has absolutely no idea how to react to a distinctly more punk band than they are accustomed to. "Get up, get up!" shouts their primary vocals during the song like a punk vocalist, but the crowd doesn't oblige. "All The Same" follows with vocalist Alex Costello asking the crowd how many people have heard of them before in a rather awkward fashion after realizing that the crowd doesn't seem to get his band at all, who are instead staring at the stage in a puzzled fashion. The heavier and faster the band go, the more hilarious it is to observe the crowd from my vantage point where it becomes clear that these people have never heard a band this punk before - not even close. And ROAM isn't even that punk rock.

Roam

"Cabin Fever" sounds good, but then the flow of the show is interrupted for a moment as secondary vocalist/guitarist Alex Adam tells us a looooooong story about how the band have been robbed three times in the past few weeks having their passports stolen in the UK, their money stolen in Japan, and £5000 worth of camera equipment robbed in Italy, which of course sucks for the band but deflates the show's energy somewhat. "Headrest" and especially acoustic tune "Tracks" work very well, where the alternating dual vocal strategy forms a great dynamic in a live environment that resembles Set Your Goals. It's a pity it's not as accentuated on the studio album "Backbone" because it's their biggest strength based on tonight's showing. "Circle pit", the band shouts in vain for the testosterone-fueled breakneck speed piece "Deadweight", but given the crowd's young age and their confused looks, it's a hopeless task with people unsure what to do. Sure, you can argue the band have way less charisma and gimmicks than The Bottom Line, but as "Hopeless Case" demonstrates, they have a ton of energy with circling jumps and constant movement suggesting they are awesome live in a smaller and more intimate setting. It's a decent set but one that goes totally lost on this crowd.

Simple Plan

Simple Plan

With the downstairs area only a third full, the turnout is rather embarrassing, but you couldn't tell that from the ear-piercing volume of girls screeching nor from the band's energetic reaction on stage. "Opinion Overload" features an echoing sing along right away while the band is bouncing like Duracell rabbits on stage, and "Jet Lag"'s first bass chord drops a massive Simple Plan backdrop behind the band who look like silhouettes in the dark lighting, further energizing the small but passionate crowd that's already dancing like crazy to the pop'n'b styled track. "Jumps" arrives with perfect timing to transform the floor into a trampoline as virtually everyone in the venue is bouncing up and down throughout the song. It morphs momentarily into a cover of Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" and back again, resulting in ecstatic sing-alongs and further jumping up and down when its massive "I JUST WANNA JUMP!" chorus arrives. At this point Simple Plan look like the kings of the world, able to convince even a jaded old 31 year old pop punk fan like me that maybe they're still a good band despite not having written a great album since 2004's pop punk classic "Still Not Getting Any...", the album that "Jump" is actually from. They keep the positive vibe going with breakthrough single "I'd Do Anything" from their debut album that has the sing along ricocheting off Vega's walls in impressively loud fashion, though nothing compared to the exploding confetti glory and its subsequent scream fest "Boom" straight after. So far so good, even if the constant use of pedestals to elevate themselves above the crowd and other similar antics do feel like an eyesore for anyone used to the down-to-earth punk rock performances in smaller venues.

Simple Plan

But then it's time for a session of pop-driven songs starting with "Welcome To My Life", "Kiss Me Like Nobody's Watching", and "Everything Sucks", all tracks that sound like the dime-a-dozen pop drivel you hear on the radio that's a far cry from the faster and more fun-driven tracks that the band has in their catalogue. The crowd energy is distinctly lower than it was before, confirming my long-held belief that pop songs are fundamentally less interesting live than, err, real songs. Especially "Singing In The Rain" is cringeworthy, but nothing compared to the horrific "Shake a booty" ideals of "Uptown Funk" (Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars cover) and "Can't Feel My Face" (The Weeknd cover) medley that's just too much for anyone over the age of 15. The only redeeming factor is the topless toga-Vikings creating a makeshift battle and a ship on stage, which turns out to be The Bottom Line. Stupid, but moderately funny.

Simple Plan

Another banner drop - there are now two vertical Simple Plan logos on the background - and "Can't Keep My Hands Off You" returns the show slightly on track from what has felt like Simple Plan on autopilot for a while now. It's a brief consolation though as the band continue to feed us tracks like "Summer Paradise" that, despite the sing-alongs, deflate the show from energy almost completely, especially considering the blatantly obvious usage of a backing track for an acoustic guitar for some weird reason. Sure, the band attempt to cover their tracks by launching huge beach balls into the crowd, but in all honesty, since "Kiss Me Like Nobody's Watching" the show has turned from mindless fun to pretty much meh. Yes, singer Pierre Bouvier makes it to the mixer desk to sing "Crazy" to the delight of the fans standing towards the back, "I'm Just A Kid" sounds just as good as it did over ten years ago, and first post-encore track "Shut Up!" is awesome much like the beginning of the show, but it's too little, too late for the undersigned. With the smaller crowd and too many weak songs in the setlist, the show feels like another day in the office for the band. Which, to be fair, is still pretty good, despite my jaded remarks about growing a little too old for Simple Plan's style of the shallowest form of pop punk out there. So as people are waving their phones and lighters during last song "Perfect", I sneak out the venue early, thinking I've probably seen enough Simple Plan shows for the time being to come along next time they're back in Copenhagen.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Opinion Overload
  • 2. Jet Lag
  • 3. Jump / I Gotta Feeling
  • 4. I'd Do Anything
  • 5. Boom
  • 6. Welcome to My Life
  • 7. Kiss Me Like Nobody's Watching
  • 8. Everything Sucks
  • 9. Take My Hand
  • 10. Singing in the Rain
  • 11. Uptown Funk / Can't Feel My Face
  • 12. Can't Keep My Hands Off You
  • 13. Nostalgic
  • 14. Summer Paradise
  • 15. Crazy
  • 16. I'm Just a Kid
  • --Encore--
  • 17. Shut Up!
  • 18. Perfect World
  • 19. This Song Saved My Life (Acoustic)
  • 20. Perfect

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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