Good Charlotte rocks Rockville

Literally hundreds of teenage girls were waiting in line outside Tower Records in Rockville, Md. Some of them had been there for more than 15 hours. If it was the '60s, I could have sworn the throngs of screaming girls were waiting for the Beatles. But the handmade "I Heart Benji" T-shirts and the pink studded belts revealed differently. These pubescent pop-punkers were waiting to see Good Charlotte -- a far cry from the Beatles, although apparently they have a similar effect on women.

The band was in town Friday night to play an acoustic set in Tower to promote their new album, "The Chronicles of Life and Death." The crowd of fans -- most of whom had skipped school to wait in line -- was to be sorely disappointed when only about 300 of them were admitted into the store, which had been redecorated to become Good Charlotte Land.

Apparently lifestyles of the rich and famous afford a hell of a lot of album promotion. With a small stage set up between the magazine racks and the children's section, the store had been covered with posters of the album cover (there are two -- one for "Life" and one for "Death"). The table for post-concert signings had been set up surrounded by televisions playing the video for "Predictable," the first single off the new album.

After squeezing the lucky 300 girls (and a few boys and parents) into Tower, the crowd waited anxiously for Good Charlotte to show themselves. Some of the girls clearly had no idea what the band looked like and would start screaming when one of the tattooed roadies would tune a guitar or check a hook-up. A few fans even screamed when they saw guitarist Billy Martin's mom. The real screaming, however, came when GC (minus the drummer, who was not there) sauntered onstage. The cries were so loud that I almost wonder if I could get away with suing the entire 15-year-old population of Maryland for my hearing loss.

Once the yelps subsided, Good Charlotte launched into three songs off their new album: "World is Black," "Walk Away" and "SOS." The band then paused to note how glad they were to be back in their home state. "We are so happy to be in Maryland tonight," guitarist Benji Madden told the crowd. "I got off the airplane and just licked the ground."

After this rather disgusting proclamation (that was of course met with cheers), the band threw in an "old" song. "Hold On," off their last album, "The Young and the Hopeless," inspired an intense fan sing-along. GC predictably finished the relatively short set with "Predictable."

Good Charlotte gets a lot of flack for being a "bad" band that plays overly poppy music, but their set on Friday was solidly enjoyable (there goes my indie rock cred!). Unfortunately for them, their shows seem to be more about the crowd spectacle than the music. One thing's for sure, I've got my Halloween costume figured out: Good Charlotte fan.

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