Words by Chelsea Pickens
Photography by Chontalle Musson
I had seen Simple Plan before… It was 15 years ago and I was 15 when I fancied myself quite punk rock, in my over-sized skater shorts with nirvana and slipknot patches. I was slightly ‘too cool’ for Simple Plan but adored them regardless – Addicted to You spoke right to my sweet emotional teenage heart.
So when I was asked last week if I wanted to go to their reunion show in Auckland, their first on our shores in those 15 years, I had a little chuckle and agreed on a whim, it would be novel to see an old pop punk band again. But of course, as usually happens these days, the occasion rolled around and I wished I hadn’t agreed – it would be a lot easier to stay in with my dog and watch Shortland Street. But the call of commitment eventually mobilised me to put on some pants, and having stated that I would be an hour later than was preferable, I left the house robotically and unenthused.
But if there’s one way to excite a 30 year old, it’s to express suspicion on the door that they could actually be 17 and that their water bottle is in fact filled with vodka – and thus upon entry I was thrown back to my teenage years. With $7 coronas and Fall Out Boy tunes as foreplay, the atmosphere was starting to feel just like the old days and that old sense of excitement and belonging began to creep back. Actually Mum it wasn’t a phase, these are my peeps, deal with it.
So when Simple Plan took to the stage we were ready and united, and they brought just what teenage emo me would have hoped for. ‘I’d do anythinnnnggggg’ we belted out together, who would’ve known that hundreds of people in Auckland still knew the words to that song? And that they not only knew the words but owned them and loved them and felt them as we all sang together. Oh no, I got old and forgot. I forgot the euphoria that comes from seeing a favourite band live, with connecting with everyone around and all feeling the music together, singing and dancing, complete with fantasies about being the lead singer’s girlfriend.
Simple Plan brought it all back, as pristine and fresh as my 2002 CD single. Grow Up and I’m Just a Kid made us forget that we were the grown-ups now and the band probably has kids of their own.
They still looked super cute, and their sound was exactly the same. More so, they actually seemed excited to be there, talking to the crowd continually and jumping around in their skinny skinny jeans, only slowing it down for their ballad Perfect. As an audience member I really felt valued by the band which was really nice and not something I’ve felt for a while.
I sung and danced my heart out right along with the energetic band who never missed a beat and got me to remember songs I thought I had forgotten.
Overall the band just made me happy, I found myself smiling the whole time, which I guess is the entire goal of music. I even skipped washing my hands when I had to run to the loo in the middle of their set – good thing too, I would’ve missed the confetti cannons. I got more then I bargained for and got to remember my youthful excitement for seeing cheesy pop punk music live – a pretty good reason to put on pants, as it turns out.