‘Here’s to Never Growing Up’: Reliving the early 2000s at Avril Lavigne’s Bite Me Tour

My earliest memory of listening to Avril Lavigne is blasting Let Go on a CD player with my sister at seven years old. It felt surreal to hear songs from my childhood inside Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre over a decade later.

This concert took place on May 24, and many attendees sported black denim jackets, red flannels and dyed hair like it was 2012. While the show started at 8 p.m., concertgoers trickled in over the course of the first opener Mod Sun’s set. The bass turned up for the next opener, grandson, who kept the crowd’s energy up with alternative rap and expressive dance moves.

In between sets, a playlist featured other pop punk hits like “Check Yes Juliet” by We the Kings and Blink-182’s “All the Small Things.” Some concert goers passed the time by head-banging and singing from their seats.

After the opening set, a projection screen with the heart shaped icon for the Bite Me Tour hung centre stage.

The heart icon shattered and a spotlight backlit Lavigne, who stood behind the screen holding black balloons. After the screen fell, the Ontario-born singer kicked a large red balloon into the mosh pit and smaller black balloons cluttered the stage.

She started off the show with “Cannonball” – the opening track on her newest album Love Sux. This song ended with a bang as long strings of confetti burst towards the excited fans.

During 2021 single “Bite Me,” the pop-punk princess held the microphone out to the audience for the crowd to scream the first lyric. This affirming grunge anthem loosened up the crowd for the entirety of the set.

Blue lights and nostalgia began to wash over the audience for the 2011 hit “What the Hell.” Lavigne playfully shrugged after singing the lyrics “All 'cause I was making out with your friend” and fans fist pumped during the verse’s iconic "yeah yeah's." Her newer music carries the same themes of putting yourself first, but expresses it through darker bubblegum punk pop than her earlier carefree bangers.

Fireworks lit up on the screen behind the singer during “Here’s to Never Growing Up.” This anthem for letting go of expectations and your troubles kept the audience in high spirits. Being a fan of Lavigne’s since childhood, my adoration of her music has not wavered as the years have gone by. She captures the joy and power of doing what makes you happy, even if others may not understand.

She dedicated the first single off of her first album, “Complicated,” to the fans who have been with her since day one. Papers with handwritten lyrics to the song shone on the projection screen mixed with collaged red clips of younger Lavigne. Blue lights covered the stage during an instrumental until Lavigne came back on stage with guitar in hand to play “My Happy Ending.” She commanded the arena with the bittersweet words about a lost love.

First opener Mod Sun came back on stage to perform their song “Flames” together. Red and orange lights flooded the stage to mirror the lyrics, “I still burn for you.”

An instrumental followed before “Girlfriend” where cartoon skulls flashed in black and white on the screen behind the singer, signalling the death of a relationship. The mosh pit put their arms in the air with the repetition of “Hey hey, you you” throughout the song.

Before beginning “Sk8er Boi,” the singer asked if there were skater boys and skater girls in the audience. Red circular confetti shot from cannons after the lyrics “Haven't you heard/How we rock each other's world.”

Phone flashlights lit up and voices echoed through the venue during the final choruses of “I’m With You.” Emotions ran high as purple confetti rained down and Lavigne closed off the night saying, “I’m With You, Vancouver!”

The only thing that would have made this concert better is if my sister could have experienced the nostalgia with me.