Review: Sum 41 Bring Back Memories at The Ritz
Teenage angst returned and flooded my body Friday night at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa when Sum 41 took the stage and filled our heads with rants against the government and society.
A decade has gone by since their second album, Does This Look Infected, came out in November 2002, and this tour celebrated the anniversary. It's hard to believe I have been listening to this band since age 11 and never saw them before Friday night. I wish I could of seen them in their prime, but now, Sum 41 is back and ready to pound out old punk rock favorites. And even 10 years later, these guys still know how to rock.
The crowd was a mix of young and old, but by far one of the more rowdy crowds I have been around in a while. As soon as lead singer Deryck Whibley hocked a loogie and the band clamored into The Hell Song (above), the moshing commenced.
When Does This Look Infected was released, it featured a harder and edgier sound then previous records. But the part that stuck out most to me were the lyrics. They had a more serious outlook on current events. The band had something to say, and wanted to be heard. Their first song is a great example: "Everybody's got their problems, everybody says the same thing to you. It's just a matter how you solve them, and knowing how to change the things you've been through." As a teen, these songs were my therapy. Even though the punk rock image may be rough and tough, they really have a lot of important things to say, and the youth of the 21st century listened.
They kept in order of the album by playing Over My Head Better Off Dead, My Direction,Still Waiting, No Brains, ANIC (which Whibley comically dubbed as a love song) and Mr. Amsterdam.
For the past 10 years, this album has played the anthems of my life. Still Waiting kick started a fire in my heart about the corrupt world we live in: "So am I still waiting, for this world to stop hating. Can't find a good reason, can't find hope to believe in." The message is something we can easily relate to, and the fast-paced music just pumps me up! All together, Sum 41 have made five albums, so of course they threw in some other old favorites. We're All To Blame was definitely a crowd favorite. The song starts off very heavy -- crunchy guitar riffs, pounding drums, and screechy half-screamed vocals, then the chorus brings down the volume into a single guitar strum with Whibley's perfectly pitched vocals and some harmonies. The entire crowd was singing along, hands in the air. Then at the bridge, Whibley directed everyone on the count of three to scream "Sacrifice!" The entire night was a screaming contest. He even invited a couple fans on stage to rock out with them.
The band took us way back and played In Too Deep off of their first album All Killer No Filler. From their fourth album they played Walking Disaster and Underclass Hero, released in 2007.
The band sort of went on hiatus from 2007 till 2011. During that time Whibley got married to, then divorced, fellow Canadian rock star Avril Lavigne. In 2011 they released their sixth studio Screaming Bloody Murder. It's not hard to see how heartbroken/pissed off Whibley was after listening to this album. Instead of scream-singing about how much the government sucks, this album focuses a lot more on personal triumphs and failures. It's a side of Sum 41 we haven't seen before.
For an encore, the band came back out and played a punk version of We Will Rock You. The crowd seemed to like it for the most part, but I thought it was kind of weird. We wanted to hear more Sum 41, not Queen.
Finally, the last song delivered what we had all been waiting for: Fat Lip. This was the band's first single, and it achieved significant chart and commercial success. It topped the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart as well as many other charts around the world. The song remains the band's most successful song to date, which was very apparent Friday night when the crowd went berserk.
The band announced that in 2013 they will head back to the studio and get to work on a new album. I'm hoping for the Sum 41 I grew up listening to -- lots of angst and songs about how screwed up this world is and teaching fans to not be afraid of what they believe in.