- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2004

Oh how punk has changed. The days of dingy underground club showcases have been replaced by prime time slots on TRL. The look of choice used to be mohawks, dickies and studded belts. But now fluorescent tank tops, designer jeans and Von Dutch hats are more the norm.

For the most part, even the music has changed. The fury of what was punk music has been replaced by sunny pop tunes and now it’s become mainstream and accepted.

How punk is that?

To the credit of modern-day punk bands, they still have their share of up-tempo, guitar-driven ballads of teen angst and rebellion. But clearly, the line between popular pop rock and punk has become so close that many of these artists are riding the fence of musical genres.

One band benefiting from the current wave of punk popularity and straddling the genre fence is Good Charlotte. Relatively unknown outside the Greater Washington area until its 2002 breakthrough album, “The Young and Hopeless,” the Waldorf, Md. band now has several videos in rotation on MTV and sold-out tours throughout America and Europe — including their sold-out affair (which did so in under 10 minutes) Saturday evening at the 9:30 Club.

Originally billed as an acoustic benefit performance for Positive Force DC, the show ended up being a plugged-in 90-minute rock fest that, sadly enough, was typical for the modern day, power pop, punk band.

The first show in support of their soon-to-be released third album “The Chronicles of Life & Death” (due out Oct. 5), the group offered only a smidgen of things to come, playing just four new tunes from the 15-track disc.

Judging from these songs alone, Good Charlotte is clearly sticking to the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it mentality.” Minus a few tempo changes and a theme or two, each of the songs — including their new radio hit, “Predictable” — could have easily been on either of their first two albums. And should the album be a hit (which it probably will given today’s musical climate), its success will be based on Good Charlotte’s mass appeal rather than a musical breakthrough in punk.

For the remainder of their 15 song set at the 9:30, the band stuck to its radio and tour-tested material such as “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous,” “Hold On,” “The Anthem,” and “My Bloody Valentine”— all sure-fire winners among the night’s mostly teenage and young adult crowd, who seemed more interested in singing along than in hearing new songs.

Still, despite what can best be described as an average performance, Good Charlotte, to their credit, accomplished what they came to do. They garnered support for their album (although fan reaction to the new songs was mixed ), raised money for Positive Force DC and, at the very least, supplied their diehard fans and family members — who packed the club for the early evening show — with a jolt of their energy.

Who can fault them for doing that?

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