All killer, no filler!
Sum 41 @ Crowbar, Sydney NSW Australia 08/03/2019 written by Brendan Lewis
Hello and welcome! Thank you for being here with me tonight on this very special occasion! They say that riding a skate-deck is just like riding a bike….. only it’s a board….. in which you balance on….. and has four wheels. So let’s find out if notorious Canadian rock/skate-punk band Sum 41, are still all killer, no filler and have they still got it after all these years and the ever-changing music scene skating past them, or are they simply in too deep and set to end up all messed up and screaming bloody murder like an unpracticed skater entering the world titles? Either way, even someone with next-to-no brains could imagine this showdown tonight, kicking off Download Festival tomorrow in this super-intimate venue (one of this capacity likely to never play host to these Canadian legends again), is one not to be missed!
Just like the preliminaries of a skate competition, I think tonight is the perfect motivation I need for Download Festival tomorrow!...
Sum 41 set the vibe nicely with AC/DC and other rock classics playing to rev up the crowd as the band make their entrance.
The band race into a high-power fan-favourite, ‘The Hell Song’. This is a very smart move, as the wild vibe, fast pace, anthemic choruses and all sounds running rings around my senses makes the crowd go nuts! All band members give us everything they’ve got to hit us hard straight up, and it’s working! In the songs bridge section, the lead guitarist shows off his agile and speedy guitar tricks, before the lead singer embraces the crowds energy and revs us all up to build up the energy (as if it weren’t insane enough as it were) for the final chorus.
The band ride straight into the next two songs, the first of which, ‘Motivation’, raises the speed and energy even higher to an insane sprint, whereas the next, brings the tempo down slightly, but keeps the energy high. The first of these two songs, the lead singer’s vocals are drenched in punk attitude, grinding the sharp rail of intricate guitar riffs and solos perfectly! My notepad is already getting saturated in sweat, that’s how hyped the energy is here…. Don’t worry, it’s mostly my own sweat! The second of these two songs, ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’, brings the pace down slightly, but thanks to the lead singer singing every word with his body as well as his voice, and him talking to us and egging us on in the songs bridge section, the energy hasn’t taken a hit! Well played guys!
I’m extremely impressed at the quality of the sound mix tonight, even when all band members are going wild on their respective instruments, the vocals are still leading out in front and perfectly balanced and precise! I mean, if lead singer Deryck makes a mistake, we’d know about it! Even at the end of ‘Underclass Hero’, when a thunderous explosion of bass and drums closes the song, the gigantic sound is still perfectly crisp!
As the show rolls on, the flow of energy commanded by Deryck and the rest of the band is very strategically effective, raising the energy by talking and revving up the crowd in some of their lesser intense songs. This keeps the energy at 11 from start to finish and makes my notepad even further drenched! Even some less popular or lesser known songs are brought right up to the top of the energy half-pipe with colossal rock-outs, clap alongs with the audience instigated by Deryck, melodic vocal hook sing-alongs and the band throwing in a brilliant punk-rendition of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ (after one of those colossal rock-outs), which even raises my excitement dramatically! Like a keen skater flowing from one trick to another, each song tonight is flowed seamlessly to the next, only pausing their strides to let Deryck engage the audience between some songs.
Another impressive trait which makes me enjoy even those songs I don’t necessarily know or aren’t usually my first choice songs, is how each band member on stage is equal to each other in dynamics. Even when the focus is on the lead guitarist’s many intricate solos, the bass is still pushing it along and the drummers ever-changing drum patterns (even within songs) is brilliant. I now know why it’s called “skate-punk”, apart from the attitude filled vocal flicks, each of the sounds go together like the parts of a skateboard (wheels, decks, grip etc) for the vocalist to balance on and ride to victory!
And of course, nearing the show’s end the band slide out fan favourites ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’ before the encore. The anthemic sing-along party vibe of ‘In Too Deep’ and the wild punk thrash of ‘Fat Lip’ bring back all the right childhood memories and skid the band over the finish line, sparks and dust flying!
The music scene may be different and “skate-punk” might not be as relevant today, but make no mistake, Sum 41 are just as relevant as ever and definitely are still all killer, no filler!
Don’t skate off so soon! I was lucky enough to catch lead guitarist Dave “Dez” after the show for a quick chat on what his thoughts were on the show!