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A baby step into punk-pop

November 21, 2005|Richard Cromelin | Times Staff Writer

You can think of the Montreal band Simple Plan as a rock 'n' roll flight simulator. It provides the sensation of the punk-pop experience without actually taking you anywhere.

Nothing wrong with that, really, because Simple Plan is a training apparatus whose purpose is to offer an introduction to the rituals of the rock concert. That's the way it went at Gibson Amphitheatre on Saturday, anyway, where an audience dominated by young teenage girls (and lots of moms) waved their glow sticks, held up homemade signs and screamed loudly.

The quintet held up its end of the deal, spoon-feeding the eager novices a steady diet of participation activities -- jumping in unison, singing along, making more noise than the crowd in Phoenix had made the night before. You half expected a session of Simon Says. The guys were also impressed with how hot everyone looked, and they kept marveling at how many people were there.

There weren't as many people as seats, though, which could indicate the end of the line, or maybe just the absence of a current hit. The band's success has been propelled by such popular singles as "Perfect," "I'd Do Anything," "Addicted" and "Welcome to My Life," formulaic variations on Blink-182 and Green Day that spurred Simple Plan's first two albums to sales of more than 2 million and 1 million, respectively.

That might not be an encouraging trend, but you never know. Singer Pierre Bouvier told the crowd Saturday that the band's going to head back home and record a new album just for us.

Second-billed Straylight Run might have been put on the show as a cautionary indication to the kids about what happens when some imagination and character come into the picture.

Led by two former members of emo band Taking Back Sunday, the quartet delivered atmospheric, deliberately paced pieces, with lines such as "I'm tired / Cynical and broken, but wiser ... " Promising and genuine, but not much for this audience to jump about.

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