The past couple of years have been huge for nostalgia culture, particularly in music. According to Spotify, nostalgia was a notable music trend of 2021, with a substantial rise in streams for throwback hits.
We’re particularly amid a revival in the emo and pop punk genres (it was never a phase, mom!). Bands we haven’t heard from in years are headlining festivals, clubs hold packed Emo Nights regularly, and songs are being certified platinum 18 years after release. This, at least, is the case with Simple Plan, the latest band to perform for the 2022 Downtown Rocks concert series.
From late spring to mid-fall, you can catch free (yes, you read that right, FREE) weekend concerts at the various stages within Fremont Street Experience. The lineups typically consist of throwback hitmakers.
Good Charlotte, Melissa Etheridge, Plain White T’s, Barenaked Ladies, 3 Doors Down, The Calling, Hoobastank, Alien Ant Farm and now Simple Plan have all been highlights of Downtown Rocks’ history. With many of these artists experiencing strengthened support among existing fans, and attracting new ones from younger generations, the concerts are pulling their most lively crowds yet.
When I arrived at the 3rd street stage about an hour before showtime, fans were already claiming their spot up against the stage barriers.
Being one of very few free activities in Vegas, one could expect that aside from true fans, the concert would draw people just looking for something to do— even if it is in the 100 degree heat. To my surprise, the street was filled with people decked out in Simple Plan merch.
An even bigger surprise was the age range present. As a millennial, the band peaked in popularity when I was in my early teens. There were definitely a lot of people my age, but also many markedly older and younger.
Shortly after the 9PM start time, Simple Plan exploded onto the stage and launched into their 2002 gold single, “I’d Do Anything,” followed by one of their biggest radio hits, “Shut Up,” from their sophomore album.
I’ll take this opportunity to reveal my bias: I’ve been a fan of Simple Plan since I was 10 years old. Somewhere along the last two decades, I lost count how many times I’ve seen them live… we’re definitely in the double digits, though. So, maybe the electric feeling of the music and crowd was amplified for this lifelong fan, but I’d like to think I would have also been extremely aware if the energy wasn’t up to par with the band’s usual shows. Spoiler alert: it was.
With the recent release of their sixth studio album, Harder Than It Looks, I was expecting a focus on their new material, but they only sang two new tracks— “Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare’s Over)” and “Iconic.”
Instead of a publicity performance, the band treated the Downtown Rocks concert like another stop on their current Blame Canada Tour, not one song omitted from their usual setlist as posted by Setlist FM. They played their full 90 minute show, including emo anthems “Welcome to My Life,” and “Perfect.” And yes, they even played their “What’s New Scooby Do” theme song.
A highlight of the night was when frontman Pierre Bouvier asked how many Vegas locals were in the audience. To his surprise, it was approximately 3/4 of the crowd. “I don’t know why, but that makes me even more excited to be here!”
He went on to thank the fans, “We’re only able to keep doing this because you let us.” Throughout the night, wide smiles were shared between bandmates when the mic was pointed at the crowd, and the audience didn’t skip a beat singing every word.
Bouvier also told the story of finding out about the “I’m Just A Kid” TikTok challenge, the catalyst for their 2002 debut single going certified platinum in 2020. The challenge consists of recreating a pose from an old photo (most commonly with family members), then cutting to the original image.
It’s pretty incredible to watch a song we wrote almost 20 years ago bring people together and make them smile. We love seeing every amily, sibling, kid, parent, couple and pet owner taking part in the #imjustakid challenge on #TikTok and sharing these amazing videos❤️❤️❤️🤘🏻⚡️🤘🏻 pic.twitter.com/6kBM21C0HY— Simple Plan (@simpleplan) April 17, 2020
“Our manager told us we were trending on TikTok, and I was like… ‘What is that? Probably won’t last.’” The audience laughed.
With so many musicians from the 80s, 90s and 2000s making a comeback, the lineups for Downtown Rocks only become more exciting. The series continues this weekend (9/3) with Rick Springfield, Men at Work and John Waite, who are also currently touring together. Is it safe to say that we’re likely to see another unabridged tour set?
Stone Temple Pilots, who are headlining the 2023 Summer Breeze festival in São Paulo Brazil, will close the series on November 19th.
Get the remaining 2022 Downtown Rocks concert schedule on the Fremont Street Experience website.