Saturday’s co-headlining bill at Universal featured two of the more popular pop-punk bands of the day, Toronto’s Sum 41 and Maryland-based Good Charlotte, both of whom have recently released highly anticipated albums. The pair seem to be headed in opposite creative directions, however, as evidenced by this uneven show.
Playing the support role here (the third of four So Cal-area shows), Sum 41 impressed with an exciting hourlong perf that incorporated numerous sounds and styles into the mix, from old-school punk strains to straight-up heavy metal bombast.
Group’s Island Records release “Chuck” — named for the U.N. peacekeeper who rescued the quartet after their hotel was attacked during a volunteer mission to the Republic of Congo last year — shows an ambitious band willing to break away from previous formula.
Sum’s rapid-fire 19-song set was a strong mix of its established hits (“Fat Lip,” opener “The Hell Song”) and choice cuts from the new album, including the excellent first single “We’re all to Blame,” which questions U.S. foreign policy, and the super-heavy “The Bitter End,” which borrowed liberally from Anthrax and “Battery” by Metallica.
Good Charlotte, on the other hand, mostly treads water on its “The Chronicles of Life and Death” (Epic), despite its stirring title. Led onstage by twin brothers Joel (vocals) and Benji (guitar) Madden, the five-piece band looked very punk — with more than enough tattoos and piercings to shock the attending parents — but by and large sounded quite pop, and with little substance offered to differentiate one song from the next.
The new tracks offered during its 65-minute effort, “Ghost of You,” which featured Benji on lead vocals, was notable for its Erasure-inspired keyboards, while “Mountain” boasted a strong melodic hook. But most of the show was filled with same-sounding songs, nearly all of which explored the usual teen-angst subject matter.
Notable exceptions were the antisuicide number “Hold On,” which was marked by hundreds of lighted cell phones held aloft in the near-full venue; the Brit-pop flavored “Boys and Girls”; and the anthemic show-closer “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” all of which were lifted from Good Charlotte’s previous, triple-platinum “The Young and the Hopeless” album.