Simple Plan

support We The Kings
author PP date 18/04/12 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Most serious music fans will call Simple Plan at best a guilty pleasure, that is if you are able to get them to admit a liking to the band in the first place. They are the very definition of sugar sweet pop rock, where the punk part of pop punk has been overthrown in favor of songs about girls that attract teenagers like the plague. As with the last couple of times the Canadian boys have returned to town, I elected to take the public hit on my critic credentials by checking out and cheekily even looking forward to the teenage lovefest ahead of me tonight. Besides, when virtually everyone present is underage, the bars are practically empty at the venue! This is also something I've found intriguing about the band: even though they've been releasing albums since 2002, their fan base always seems to consist of mainly 13-15 year old girls, so their fans don't carry over from one album to the next one. Otherwise their shows would be like those by Yellowcard: well attended by older kids who've been fans since their debut album. I guess they're a stepping-stone type of band who young people get into first before they discover bands with more, err, merit to them. But more on that later.

We The Kings

The headliners had brought power poppers We The Kings along for the ride, and it turns out they're the perfect band for the support slot at a Simple Plan show. Straight from the get go, everyone at the (only third full) venue gets into their set, resulting in the floor occasionally feeling like a trampoline as it's bending underneath the pressure of hundreds of people jumping up and down simultaneously. It's testament to how likable We The Kings are - they receive echoing sing alongs, and since I refuse to believe they have that big of a fan base in Denmark, I'll attribute it to their simplistic choruses. They are also great showmen, clearly used to playing huge shows in the past: the whole band looks like they are high on life when they're on stage, they appear super happy and enthusiastic to be there, even cheekily sneaking in a few Danish phrases that they've learned before the show to entertain the crowd.

We The Kings singer

And that's what their set is all about: mindless entertainment where turning your brains off is mandatory. It's similar to All Time Low, except a little less audacious and a little bit more shallow in comparison. For this scribe, their set is a little too girly and designed-for-15-year-olds, and I find myself noting how their songs are forgotten just as easily as they catch on during the first listen. Nowhere else is this clearer than when the band covers Jimmy Eat World's classic emo punk song "The Middle", which is a miles better song than anything We The Kings present tonight. A little bit worrying is that nobody at the venue knows the song - not even the dads of the youngest audience members in attendance tonight - but I guess that's okay since they present a whole new level of musical depth most of these kids simply haven't had the chance to discover yet. In the end though, the crowd connection feels a little superficial and the whole set is best summed up by one word--shallow--so awarding it a higher rating than this is difficult to argue for.

Simple Plan bassist

Simple Plan

Speaking of shallow music, Simple Plan's offering isn't exactly far more intelligent than what we've just heard before. Predictably, I'm stuffing my ear plugs deeper towards my eardrums the moment that Simple Plan enter stage because of the insane amount of high-pitched screaming that encompasses the venue from here onwards. But here's where the difference lies between We The Kings and a band like Simple Plan: where the latter seems a little cheesy on stage, Simple Plan are often like an eruption of momentous energy, which they are also tonight starting from opening tracks "Shut Up", "Can't Keep My Hands Off You" and "Jump". It's up beat, high in tempo, and super catchy, and they perform it well enough to convince even the most jaded old critic (read: me) that they are still a great live band when they want to. The whole floor turns into a sea of people jumping and singing along in ecstasy, and the high-energy performance of the band catches on just like the plague I was talking about earlier in this review.

There's a problem though. They don't always want to be a good live band, because they also have a number of poseur, pseudo arena-rock ballads like "When I'm Gone" and the Green Day imitation "Your Love Is A Lie". The difference between their high-speed pop punk assaults and these is enormous, which is directly mirrored in the crowd that goes from wild to dead in a matter of seconds to either song. I'm not really sure why they play these songs exactly as they are so clearly inferior to their up beat material, and break the flow of their set and have me rolling my eyes. I guess they provide an ideal excuse to visit the men's room during their set.

Moreover, some of the stunts that they pull off to entertain their young female audience can be a little too much. For example, when the band covers "Moves Like Jagger" as a part of a medley, they all turn around and shake their collective asses at the audience. Cringe worthy. This is something that'll get them killed at Groezrock next week if they plan on repeating it in front of a punk/hardcore oriented audience. That said, when singer Pierre reads out loud a phone number and the Twitter account of a fan from her bra that's been thrown on stage - and repeats it to make sure everyone calls and texts her immediately...now that's pretty funny.

One of the highlights during the set for older fans is sure to be the "No Pads, No Helmets" medley which sees five old songs thrown into one for good measure. Response to these is almost non-existent though, which is no surprise considering most people here were like 5-7 years old back when these songs were released.

Simple Plan singer Pierre

After the band closes their set with a predictable acoustic ballad that leads into the full band returning halfway through "Perfect", I'm left puzzled as to what to rate the show exactly. Because when the band plays their high energy pop punk songs, they are great and fun to watch. But when they move onto their generic mainstream radio rock material, I find myself yearning for another pint of beer while checking my watch. I'll go with a solid rating though to reflect the crowd atmosphere and the fact that I'm just getting jaded and old.

Setlist:

  • 1. Shut Up
  • 2. Can't Keep My Hands Off You
  • 3. Jump
  • 4. When I'm Gone
  • 5. Addicted
  • 6. You Suck at Love
  • 7. Thank You
  • 8. Your Love Is a Lie
  • 9. Astronaut
  • 10. Summer Paradise
  • 11. Moves Like Jagger / Dynamite / Sexy and I Know It
  • 12. Jet Lag
  • 13. The Worst Day Ever / When I'm With You / My Alien / You Don't Mean Anything / God Must Hate Me
  • (No Pads, No Helmets....Just Balls Medley)
  • 14. This Song Saved My Life
  • 15. Welcome to My Life
  • 16. I'd Do Anything
  • ---Encore---
  • 17. Loser of the Year
  • 18. I'm Just a Kid
  • 19. Crazy (acoustic)
  • 20. Perfect (acoustic start, then full band)

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen. More photos can be found over here

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