Sum 41 Warehouse Live February 1, 2013
At 10:45, the crowd at Warehouse Live began to grow restless.
Sum 41 had yet to take the stage, and the audience clamored for their emergence from behind the proverbial curtain. Twenty-five minutes later, as half the crowd sang and shouted along to AC/DC's "TNT" while the other half chanted the band's name, the lights finally dimmed. Fans screamed in delight as the Canada-based four piece strutted onto the stage.
For a band whose heyday was 12 years ago, it was both impressive and unexpected.
In 2001, when pop punk was the reigning genre (at least as far as I knew) and "emo" was barely even an emerging concept, these self-declared underclass heroes released their debut full-length album All Killer, No Filler to mainstream success, watching it peak at No. 13 on the American Billboard charts.
Sum 41 has since released four more albums, the most recent of which came out in mid-2011 and featured the group revamping their style, both lyrically and melodically. Friday night, Sum 41 breathlessly cruised through nearly 20 songs, though they hardly touched on the newest.
Their set began with "The Hell Song," a seemingly cliched though indisputably catchy tune with dark undertones. Typical teen angst? Not quite. Vocalist Deryck Whibley actually wrote the song after hearing that his best friend, a former girlfriend, had contracted HIV. He later told MTV News that it was "the heaviest thing that's happened in our group of friends."
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What followed was rapid-fire, with an emphasis on No Killer. Neither Sum 41 nor their fans ever stopped or slowed to catch their breath. From the photo pit, it felt like the band was still a reigning musical force, as kids soared above both my and the bouncers' heads, yelling, singing and throwing up devil horns as Whibley bowed to the crowd, a smile spreading wide across his face.
From the back, Warehouse was seen to be barely at two-thirds capacity, if even. So, depending on your vantage point, the feel of it all varied. But while the number of those in attendance didn't even come close to breaching capacity, the fans made their voices heard, and the band was clearly grateful for their vigor.
Sum 41's songs don't hit home with yours truly anymore, though the songs I've heard off their newest album are an interesting attempt at rebranding. Still, their music continues to resonate with plenty of twentysomethings and, if Friday night was any indication, their under-18 fan base is growing too.
If only they'd perform a few more tracks under the alter-ego of Pain for Pleasure, the '80s-era heavy metal band that has been featured in a few of Sum 41's music videos.
Because I could listen to this all day.
Personal Bias: I used to listen to Sum 41 more than a decade ago, but I had no idea they were still around.
Overheard In the Crowd: As a girl was adjusting her wedgie, she grunted and said, "I'm picking it from the inside."
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Random Notebook Dump: In Sum 41's prime, I almost got my hair cut in the same style as Whibley. Luckily I was 12, and my mom said no.