Sum 41 was probably one of your favorite bands as you began to enter your teenage-angst years, but the Canadian punk rockers have lost a lot of their relevance over the past half-decade.
So now, as either a celebratory look back to the heights of their success or a timely effort to try to rekindle some of their former glory, the band has embarked on a 26-stop tenth anniversary tour for their widely successful sophomore album, “Does This Look Infected?”.
The band opened their tour in Chicago at the House of Blues this past weekend with a surprisingly solid performance wrapped in all the punk rock aesthetics that made the band famous a decade ago.
I admittedly entered the concert with relatively low expectations, anticipating a performance similar to what I witnessed last year when I saw Blink-182, a band Sum 41 toured with at the start of their mainstream careers and are perhaps most widely associated with. To be frank, I was expecting a concert where the band would simply fumble around three power chords and struggle to carry the same notes of the catchy hits that made them famous a decade ago, drowning out the lackluster performance with heavy distortion and distractingly high levels of nostalgia from onlookers.
But I was wrong. Sum 41 delivered with a well-executed, energetic punk show from start to finish that left me deafened with a slight case of vertigo.
Lead singer Deryck Whibley sang as well as you would expect him to and kept the restless fans that packed the floor of the House of Blues fully energized for the entire set as the band played through almost all of their sophomore album and several other fan favorites from the rest of their discography, including “In Too Deep,” “Motivation,” “We’re All to Blame” and “Underclass Hero.”
The band followed the main set with an encore that began with a cliché inclusion of Queen’s crowd pleasing classic “We Will Rock You.” Though Whibley naturally falling into the long list of singers whom fall flat while attempting to cover one of the greatest singers in the history of recorded music, the band followed with a much more suitable cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” before abruptly cutting short mid-song to begin their own most notable hit, “Fat Lip.”
The night concluded with a hilarious rendition of “Pain for Pleasure” – a song sung by drummer Steve Jocz as part of the group’s alter ego 1980s heavy metal band.
As good as the band’s performance was, the set list did falter in some regards. For some reason they decided to just skip over “Thanks for Nothing” – the ninth track on “Does This Look Infected?” – and while it was not a hit single, it was a noticeable miss for anyone familiar with the album. The band also didn’t play a fan — and personal — favorite being “Makes No Difference,” their first ever single off their debut EP, “Half Hour of Power.” The popular singles “Pieces” and “With Me” were also excluded from the show, but fittingly so as the slow-paced ballads had no place in the forceful set.
Regardless of whether the set could’ve benefited with the addition of a few songs, the tracks they did perform were exceptionally executed by each member. And as solid as their performance was, what really took the show to another level was the way Whibley interacted with the energetic crowd throughout the night, ranging from chanting contests to pulling about half a dozen fans up on stage to “party” with them for the duration of the show.
The intimate venue certainly helped maintain the energy throughout the show, but anyone looking to see the band and not get knocked around a little bit by mosh pits or crowd surfers would be best reserving a seat in the upper deck – assuming the venue offers it. Otherwise, brace yourself as the band still can draw a rowdy crowd of 20-somethings moshing their way down memory lane.
Sum 41 continued the tour in Cleveland and Buffalo earlier this week, and will make four stops to Pennsylvania throughout the month. They will be playing at the Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia on Nov. 15, the Chameleon Club in Lancaster on Nov. 17, Crocodile Rock in Allentown on Nov. 23, and finally at the Altar Bar in Pittsburgh on Nov. 28.
Based on their performance opening night in Chicago, the band more than warrants the $20 ticket. If you grew up listening to Sum 41, and assuming you did since you made it this far into the review, this is an anniversary tour you do not want to miss.