The year is 2013. You’ve just started at a new school in some satellite city, and you’re waiting at the bus stop. The bus is 15 minutes late. Before you can grumble about being late on the first day, your headphones light up with Simple Plan. The heavy pop-punk guitar rips through your teenage angst and you tap your foot slightly. Suddenly, time has passed and you’re on the bus. We The Kings serenade you as you step onto school ground and run for class. Boys Like Girls give you the speed and agility you need to step around the two other students and make it to the top of the stairs in time.

Thursday night was just like that. Except instead of being me in year 8, it was me at 24 outside Melbourne’s John Cain Arena, waiting with a sea of others with that same experience for our tickets. This was maybe the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at the iconic Melbourne venue. The vocals of American Idol winner, Jax, keep us bouncing and excitedly calling over friends while we wait for entry.

Eventually, I make my way inside, and get the most spectacular seats. I settle down to watch the end of We The Kings’ set. The 6-piece are giving it their absolute all in a disappointingly short setlist. I was aching to see more of them and was so sad to see them go after only about 8 songs. Pounding drums, I can feel in my feet, amazing acoustic and electric guitar work blending together seamlessly to take me back to those earlier days. We The Kings sound just good live as they do on the album, and maybe, better. The audience is screaming and clapping and dancing, and it gives the music such depth, recordings just can’t capture. One thing about the crowd; we love We The Kings. Every song’s conclusion is met with ferocious cheers and begs for more. It was honestly hard for me to take notes because I was so enraptured by the Florida band.

Before I know it, we are at the final number. Check Yes Juliet is more than a hit, it’s iconic. It’s generation defining. It’s brain chemistry changing. Ask anyone born between 1994 and 2000, and we can sing this goddamn song. It really is anthemic. And boy do We The Kings know it. After absolutely shredding their way through it, with incredible bass work, guitar strumming to rival some of The Greats and a beautiful comradery – they turn the mic to us and ask us to sing, completely acapella. And we do. The stadium is full of voices, all screaming the chorus at the top of our lungs. At moments, you can tell Travis Clerk wants to take the microphone back but doesn’t. We are just too lost in the song, in the moment and in nostalgia.

We The Kings leaves the stage, leaving us hungry for more, and telling the world “Now that’s how you open!”

Third cab off the rank was Boys Like Girls, the band I knew the least out of the lineup – or so I thought. As soon as Love Drunk started playing, a part of me woke up and I realised I knew this band. I knew these songs. And so did everyone else. The screen behind the foursome played a mix of music video clips, lyrics and animations which reflected off the guys’ all-leather fits. They were clearly going for a modern-twist on 1980’s glam-rock and it weirdly worked. “The name? Boys Like Girls. The Place? Boston Masechussets, USA, The World, The Milky Way, The Motherfucking Universe!!!” Front man, Martin Johnson yowls into the microphone.

BLOOD AND SUGAR goes down an absolute treat, the boys needing a cigarette after it’s finale. “The secret to rock ‘n’ roll, is to keep smoking cigarettes. It keeps you nice and young!” After a set full of flicked guitar picks, thrown drumsticks and impassioned rants, it starts to come to a close. We wish their touring guitarist a very happy birthday, before being taken into a remix of Love Drunk, yet again, to close us out. And wow, what a fantastically, high-energy set from the boys from Boston. “Ah Australia. The weed. The sunshine. The magpies. We love ya!” and we love you too, Boys Like Girls.

And now, the finale. Simple Plan look like a group of Canadian talk show hosts but play like absolute rock superstars. With six studio albums, a theme song and over 25 years together – they are an absolute musical unit. Given this history, it’s unsurprising this set was impossible to capture in the number of words I have.

“Are you ready to party with Simple Plan? This next song’s called Jump, so what’re you gonna do?” From their second song onwards, it’s a blur for me. Partially because of the intense strobes, but mostly because of the energy in that room. Jumping up and around onstage, soaking it up, and looking like the cool uncles you see once a year – their energy is just perfection.

This set is long, and it’s a mix of new and old originals to keep fans of every era full to the absolute brim. It’s also full of covers, delivered with Simple Plan skill, spunk, and wit. The mashup between All Star / Sk8erBoi and Mr Brightside, changed me a little bit. Let Go, by Avril Lavigne was the first album I bought with my own money, I think I screamed so loud my vocal cords ripped.

But I will never scream as loud at any show the way I screamed at What’s New, Scooby Doo? The theme song that changed me. The ripping guitars, driving drums and rhythmic bass did not disappoint, and I was thrown into a frenzy of voices, claps and elated laughs. The girls behind me were giddily shouting “They played it! They really played it!” after it ended. Needless to say, it brought the sold-out house down. For Iconic, they brought out first-support Jax. Her vocals are just incredible. Vanilla-y and sweet, with an edge that is difficult to capture, but is complimented perfectly by an electric guitar – it was a duet to never be forgotten.

Normally, I hate encores. But I could not wait for Simple Plan’s return. I’m Just A Kid, was, unsurprisingly, a smash hit. I love this fucking song, man. And I’m not alone. This Song Saved My Life made me appreciate these guys as musicians, and what they did for two generations of teenagers. I saw parents with kids swaying and singing together. Young couples. Older people with shaved heads – everyone was completely caught-up in Simple Plan’s simple, breathtaking charisma. Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again, genuinely made me cry a little. I’m glad they cut it at verse 2, or I would’ve been a mess. I hope I see Simple Plan’s faces again. Because nothing can quite compare to the Montreal Band’s musicianship, charm and command.

I left the arena feeling warm and golden. My ears were aching for more and I could still feel the claps of happy hands in my feet. Next time they’re down under, get to it. I promise, you won’t be disappointed – and neither will that kid inside you, who’s waiting for a late bus at the bus-stop.