I’ll be upfront; I was expecting, and possibly hoping for, one hell of a trainwreck to emerge from this season’s JD Set, featuring Good Charlotte playing Weezer’s Blue Album. Something about putting one of the blandest radio features (and I use that term loosely) together with one of my favourite bands, playing one of my favourite albums of all time just seems like the kind of thing that I knew I would loathe. When the press release landed in my inbox, I really had to put my hand up to cover it; it’s just such an odd pairing, and when coupled with the venue for Brisbane (the Eatons Hill Hotel), it just was utterly confusing. I couldn’t miss it.
The night begins with two patrons who could make Iggy Pop’s lively yet saggy body look like Adonis being ejected from the venue. The use of the Eatons Hill Hotel is simply stymying; located smack bang in the middle of suburbia, a good thirty minutes outside of the city, it’s never really entered into my mind as being a valid concert venue, mainly stemming from the variety of safety concerns and their booze-bus-esque service of bussing in passengers from surrounding taverns past 1am.
Seeing these two customers get ejected quite violently doesn’t really do anything to change my view. That said, the concert hall is quite nice, being a two tiered 1500-ish capacity hall, much like The Tivoli. It’s to their credit that I couldn’t hear the pre-requisite 90’s tunes such as ‘Semi Charmed Life’ and ‘Song 2’ being blared outside the hall; soundproofing obviously has to be a high priority for venues, especially in the suburbs. However, this had led to some sub-par sound, especially at The Hi Fi. However, when supports Amy Meredith take the stage, the mix is just as muddled as any show at The Hi Fi; even from the back of the room, the drum kit is the predominant instrument in the mix, with cymbals blurring out the guitar lines. While I’d usually put this down to inexperienced sound desk mixers, this really only seems to be an issue at venues that require inordinate amounts of soundproofing; it really seems to mess with the acoustics of a room, and makes concerts much less enjoyable. Regardless, the Amy Meredith boys put on a short, energy infused set, even if they are largely ignored by the crowd.
Finally, the time comes around for Good Charlotte to grace the stage. Iron Maiden’s ‘Run To The Hills’ blares over the in house PA, obviously as part of an intro, stage lights flashing…then abruptly stops in the middle of the chorus. Stage lights still flashing... volume on the house PA is fading…and Good Charlotte finally step out. They take a few seconds to get their instruments ready, and power into ‘My Name Is Jonas’ and ‘Buddy Holly’. The problem with these covers is that they seem really lifeless; where Rivers Cuomo’s almost neutral, middle Americana voice lilted and rose through the instruments of the songs on Blue Album, brothers Joel and Benji Madden’s nasal and strong accent is just grating and overpowering, adding to the aforementioned bad mix.
Where as previous JD Sets had unique Australian artists putting their own spins on the greats, Good Charlottes covers are at the level of a corner busker. They’re straight up playing the songs as they were written. Granted, if we had been presented with some pop-punk covers of Weezer songs I’d be…unhappy, I guess, but it would have been more commendable. As it stands, it’s just bland.
Blazing through the rest of Blue with the likes of ‘Undone’, ‘Surf Wax America’, ‘Say It Ain’t So’ and ‘Holiday’, Good Charlotte take a quick break to stress the wonders of Jack Daniels and how much of it they’re getting for free (honestly, that sounds like a really good deal to me; play an album you love with minimal effort and receive free Jack in return) before launching into a truncated version of their usual set list, with the crowd pleasers ‘The Anthem’, ‘Girls And Boys’, ‘I Just Wanna Live’ and finishing up with ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’.
Overall, this just seemed like a really odd choice for what has been a fantastic series of shows for The JD Set. When Art Vs Science really twisted some Icehouse songs, it was good. Seeing Tim Rogers, Megan Washington and Adalita tear out their own versions of songs from The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street was special. Surely if the budget covered bringing out Good Charlotte and giving them free Jack Daniels for life, it could have been enough to bring out Weezer proper for a tour? Still, if this is as close as Australia gets to a Weezer show sometime in the next ten years, I’ll take it. Unfortunately, what I took was underwhelming at best, and disappointing and cringeworthy at worst.
Please, promoters. Find a way to bring Weezer to Australia.