Growing up in the early 2000s, you couldn’t help but see how pop-punk bands were starting to infiltrate the radio and television airwaves. Music videos from artists like blink-182 and Good Charlotte were in high rotation on TRL while some of their biggest hits made their way onto top 20 radio. Almost 20 years since the pop-punk heyday, some bands have disbanded, others have gone on hiatus, and others have managed evolve and adapt with the times while still staying true to their roots. One of those with an ever-changing, but still truly pop-punk sound is Simple Plan.
On Sunday (March 19), the Canadian five-piece made their way to Revolution Live in Ft. Lauderdale to kick off their No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls 15th anniversary tour. The tour was announced to celebrate the release of the band’s debut album 15 years before. The record was released in the spring of 2002 and has been certified as double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It also reached the number 35 spot on the Billboard 200 chart and the number eight spot on the Canadian Albums Chart. Not too shabby for a bunch of boys from Montréal.
Walking into Revolution Live, it was easy to see how the place was overrun by a bunch of twenty-somethings ready to revert to their teenaged selves for a couple of hours. The small night club was packed to the point that the sensation of body heat could be felt at the venue’s entry way. It didn’t matter how many people were crammed into the tight quarters because for those who were fortunate to get a ticket, they were happy just to be there.
Ontario five-piece Seaway began the anniversary celebration. The group released their second studio album Colour Blind back in 2015 and have been touring relentlessly behind its release. Their set included several tracks from their discography before treating the crowd to a cover of Fountain of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom.” The cover quickly turned into a spirited sing-along as almost everyone in the venue took part. Talk about a flashback to the 2000s.
After Seaway’s set came to an end, the crew quickly readied the stage for Tampa-based band, Set It Off. The Floridian four-piece took the stage and gave an energetic show playing some old tunes as well as newer songs from their recently released record, Upside Down. Frontman Cody Carson showed his high-energy spirit as he ran up and down the stage throughout the set. At one point, he climbed on top a tall monitor on the stage and jumped right off, sticking his landing. Following a few more songs, Set It Off’s set came to an end. What was surprising was how many people in attendance actually knew more than one song from either band. Usually, supporting acts do not receive the same type of love as headliners typically do. For Seaway and Set It Off, you could clearly see how many South Floridian fans they truly have.
While Simple Plan’s technicians hit the stage to get it prepared, the venue began playing songs that could have easily found a home on someone’s long-lost iPod classic. The playlist was an emo kid’s dream with songs from Panic! at the Disco, blink-182, Paramore, and even The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” blasted through the speakers. The only non-emo song featured on the list was Will Smith’s “Getting’ Jiggy Wit It.” The catchy 1997 tune could have easily been that guilty pleasure that embarrassingly always plays at the wrong time
A little before 9 p.m., the speakers quieted, the lights dimmed, and the guys from Simple Plan ran on stage one by one to officially kick off the show and the North American tour. Jumping on a box at the foot of the stage was frontman Pierre Bouvier as he, and the rest of the guys, launched into the opening track of the evening and of No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls, “I’d Do Anything.” Midway through the song, confetti was blasted into the pit area with Bouvier, ever the teenager, standing over one of the four cannons so it would appear as if the confetti was blasted from his crotch area.
The band quickly played through several other tracks from the album including “The Worst Day Ever” and “You Don’t Mean Anything.” Following “You Don’t Mean Anything,” the band quieted and Bouvier took the microphone to speak to the crowd. He explained to the packed house how March 19 played a special role in the band’s history as it was the day No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls was released in 2002. With that, they launched into one of the many singles that made them a mainstream staple, “I’m Just a Kid.” They quickly played through several more tracks, but before beginning on track ten, “I Won’t Be There,” they talked about what the song was about. When they were teenagers, all they wanted to do run away from home and their parents. Bouvier joked how 15 years later, the tables were turned on them. Now, they were parents with homes and they still have the desire to run away which is the real reason they decided to go on tour. The crowd laughed along with the band before they began the tune.
During “One Day,” the band threw massive Simple Plan beach balls into the crowd for the concertgoers to play with. At the end of the song, it was nice to see that the guys still had their sick sense of humor. Between Bouvier and bassist David Desrosiers, they made several sexual innuendos including how it was hard to keep it [the balls] up and how much they appreciated the fans playing with their massive balls. As quickly as they started with the dick jokes, they quickly changed the topic. Bouvier told the crowd that they were nearing the end of the No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls tracks, but they didn’t want to finish the album quite yet. Instead, they played “Grow Up,” a track that was only featured on the Japanese version of the album. They may have thought their hardcore fans wouldn’t know the words to the song, but they were proven wrong when the crowd almost outdid the band.
One of the coolest moments of the show was when drummer Chuck Comeau and Bouvier decided to trade places. Comeau explained how he always wanted to be a singer while Bouvier wanted to be a drummer. Instead of holding onto those dreams, they decided to make it a reality. At the end of the song, Comeau surprised the crowd when he launched himself onto an unsuspecting audience. Thankfully, the pit area was so packed Comeau was caught in an epic trust fall test. The band ended the first half of their set with the album’s closer, “Perfect.” Considering the song is one of the band’s most emotional tracks, it wasn’t surprising when the crowd’s joint singing drowned out Bouvier’s vocals. At first, the singer appeared a little stunned, but quickly allowed the crowd to sing the first couple of verses of the song. After letting the crowd sing a little on their own, the singer rejoined until the final note.
Once the song wrapped, the group headed backstage for a quick pre-encore breather. As the stage went dark, the crowd began to chant “one more song.” Sadly, many concertgoers didn’t get the memo that the show wasn’t over quite yet and left. A short time later, the group re-emerged for their eight-song encore beginning with “Shut Up!” from their sophomore album, Still Not Getting Any…
During the encore, Bouvier revealed that the group had encountered people who’ve asked them what they’ve been up to during the past 15 years and whether they went on hiatus during that time. “Come on guys, you have something called the internet,” joked the singer. It’s true. The group has released a total of four records since their debut including 2016’s Taking One for the Team.
Surprising, or maybe not, the encore consisted of more Still Not Getting Any… songs than any of their other albums. “Shut Up!,” “Jump,” “Crazy” and set closer “Welcome to My Life” represented their second album while “Your Love is a Lie” represented their self-titled, third record. The Natasha Bedingfield- assisted “Jet Lag” and Rivers Cuomo track “Can’t Keep My Hands off You” represented their fourth studio album, Get Your Heart On! Maybe the most surprising part of the set list came from the band only including one song (“Boom!”) from Taking One for the Team, an album that just celebrate it’s one-year release anniversary this past February.
Maybe it was intentional, because the band wanted to pay homage to nostalgia and give their fans what they really wanted; vintage tunes. Whatever their reason was, it was nice to see that pop-punk is still alive and kicking and that those who listened to it are no longer ashamed to proclaim it loud and proud.