Sum 41 go back to basics with Harpers Ferry gig

A review of Sum 41 at Harper’s Ferry on April 30, 2009

, Staff Writer

It was all about spiky hair and power chords at Sum 41’s show at Harper’s Ferry on Thursday as the band put on a heavy, fast, and frantic show for a sold-out crowd of old-school fans and casual victims of nostalgia. Burning through their set in a constantly jumping, thrashing, and screaming fashion, the guys are still as youthful and crazy as ever.&

Starting things off with countdown over muted distortion, singer Derek Whibley let out a screech and busted into “All To Blame” from 2004’s Chuck, a song with lyrics about war, corporate greed, and poverty, but still a catchy tune that gets hard and heavy and had the crowd moving immediately. Snarling after burning through “In Too Deep” and “Motivation” from their 2001 breakout All Killer No Filler, Whibley smiled a little bit and said “Welcome to hell, motherfuckers,” before ripping into “Better Off Dead”.

I was a senior in high school when All Killer No Filler came out and the video for “Fat Lip” was all over MTV. Hearing these tunes again wasn’t some weird nostalgia trip or montage of punk-rock high school fantasies, just a high-energy concert. The ages in the crowd were mixed, but I was on the elder end of things. All these songs about being young, hyper, and aimless still held up for me, and they definitely have found a new generation of fans. I wasn’t about to jump among the sweaty throngs of highschoolers doing their best impression of a mosh pit (knuckles, not nails, guys) but I did take part in the “1-2-Fuck You!” chants.&

“I love playing in America for one reason,” stated the Canadian (and wasted) Whibley. “You guys get as drunk as we do. Who puked already tonight? Only one guy? This song’s for you, ” and they started into “Machine Gun” from 2000’s Half Hour of Power. Whibley stands about 5 foot nothing with his hair spiked and looks like he could use an extra meal, but his energy makes him explode onstage like a little firecracker. He’s nuts.&

The night quieted down for a little bit when a girl in the front row requested “Walking Disaster”, probably so she could sway with her boyfriend or something. Weirdly mellow at first, then louder and faster in that awkward punk-rock love song kind of way, it definitely was not the high point of the night. Whibly noted they hadn’t played it in awhile and they were a little rusty. Price you pay for taking requests, I guess.&

Closing up with the anthemic “Still Waiting” from Does This Look Infected?, Sum 41 said a quick thanks before taking a few minutes and returning to show off their chops on a medley of Metallica tunes. “You guys like that fucking metal shit? We’re gonna do a full Metallica set tomorrow night in New Jersey, you should come,” quipped Whibley. After that, drummer Steve Jocz switched places with Whibley for the bands thrash-metal spectacular “Pain for Pleasure”, proving that you don’t have to be a lead singer to forget the words to your own songs.

After returning to their original places Sum 41 ended the night with “Fat Lip”, to which every single person in Harper’s Ferry sang along. If I were still in high school I would have called this show the greatest. It wasn’t the greatest, but it inspired enough crowd-surfing and stage-crashing to qualify as pretty awesome.&

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