SIMPLE PLAN with HEDLEY at the Air Canada Centre, December 8. Tickets: $37.50. Attendance: 9,000. Rating: NN
Remember high school? Me neither. But last Thursday's Simple Plan experience at the Air Canada Centre was a pretty strong reminder. The Montreal five-piece's fan base is entirely made up of 12-to-17-year-olds.
As openers Hedley 's frontman, Jacob Hoggard (of Canadian Idol fame), emoted and caterwauled over his so-so backup band, the powerful aura of concentrated raging hormones started to burn my eyes.
So you can imagine the sting I felt 45 minutes later, when, to the blaring of a large red siren, establishing just how anti-authoritarian their squeakily sanitized brand of pop-punk is, Simple Plan took the stage (which had been pushed to the half-full venue's midpoint).
Emerging to sustained screams, Pierre Bouvier immediately connected with the crowd. "What's up, Toronto!?" he asked, keeping the screams high. Then they kicked it off with Shut Up, a song about not letting assholes make you feel down, followed by Jump, which is about jumping to, you know, like, forget your problems or whatever?
As the spotlight circled the crowd of thousands of kids, all jumping up and down, I could literally feel my brain cells exploding like pop rocks. This is exceedingly dumb music. Go online and read their lyrics there's nothing to them. I just had a bowl of corn flakes that was deeper.
The stupidity isn't actually intolerable, but it is when combined with their gleeful camp-counsellor-like audience participation moments, incessant to the point of suggesting some lingering insecurity: "Are you having fun, Toronto? Are you ready to dance, Toronto? What's that, Toronto? Are you still with us, Toronto?"
It's, like, Pierre. Dude. Everyone's mom and dad paid 40 bucks to be here, so, yes for the 70th time, please Toronto is still fucking "with you."
I guess because the attention span of their whole audience has been worn to shit by music video jump cuts and high-speed wireless Internet, the Simple ones have to interact very heavy-handedly: Don't get distracted on us, Toronto!
In addition to asking their young crowd lots of moronic questions, they did a cover of the Turtles oldie Happy Together as shitty as it was aimless, a bunch of their low-budget version of Blink 182 tracks, even an embarrassing alt-rap cover of Drop It Like It's Hot.
Clearly, the only things these guys should be dropping like it's hot are their microphones and musical instruments.