Sum 41

support The Black Pacific + Riverboat Gamblers + Veara
author PP date 21/11/10 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

I can't believe that next year it'll be already a full decade's worth of time since Sum 41 burst into mainstream super stardom with megahit "Fat Lip". It feels like the decade rushed by in no time. It has also been three years since the last album from these guys, the disappointing and underwhelming "Underclass Hero", the probably reason why Amager Bio isn't even half full tonight. The balcony isn't open, and there's plenty of room to move around freely across the floor throughout the whole night, but I guess it also highlights the fact that 'college pop punk' or whatever people call it these days never really caught the interest of the Danes. No matter, Sum 41 are seemingly oblivious to a crowd size of barely a fraction to that they played for in Groezrock earlier this year - where they sucked balls by the way - and bring on their full repertoire of stage performance tonight...but before that, lets deal with the (mostly) awesome support bands.

Veara

As the only band I'd never heard of before tonight, self-proclaimed "peach state pop punkers" Veaera sure do put on a good show for an opening slot band. Their style resembles closely the high-energy pop punk of bands like With The Punches and The Wonder Years, albeit in a little more polished and produced format. Think of them like The Maine on steroids or something, and you're pretty close. The band takes full advantage of the bouncy energy found in their songs, with all band members rushing across the stage as often as possible to stir up a surprisingly strong response in the young percentile of tonight's crowd. You see, about half the people here are 14 years old or so, and the rest are older fans who were in grade school when Sum 41 was at the height of their career. The band has people clapping, and even jumping up-and-down to the rhythm of their songs, and much of this response should be credited to the hyper-active performance of their bassist. He spends literally the entire set throwing himself around recklessly around the stage, running back and forth, swinging his bass around and other small trickery that assures most eyes are on him for the duration of the set. Some might call it pretentious, but in comparison to the debacle later tonight, it actually feels honest. It's a huge boost to the band in my opinion, because their songs are fairly standard pop punk, pretty good but lacking the flashy flair of either of the two bands I mentioned early in this review. Not bad, I decided to check out their album based on this show, so a job well done I suppose.

The Riverboat Gamblers

The Riverboat Gamblers are loved by many of the punk fans overseas for their inventive and experimental take on punk rock. This is no standard three chord affair, this is a band that likes to push the envelope in many directions, not satisfied by the basic d-beat and melodic riff for their songs. On record, I didn't think much of them, but tonight this desire to sound different is a huge plus, and I figure I should probably get my ears checked regarding that review. They are lead by one of the most eccentric front men I've come across, whose performance reminisces more of the pompous rock star attitude of Ian Watkins (Lostprophets) and similar vocalists than your typical punk leaders. And that's not meant to sound bad, because based on how he grabs the mic stand and uses it as a prop in his performance, you can tell that he is performing his heart out in passion. You can't but respect that, despite him wearing a suit/vest combination on stage. He masterfully spices the show with small details: have you ever heard of a band member grabbing some fan's phone from the front row who is clearly holding his/her phone up in the air to play the live song to a friend not at the venue, and then singing directly into the phone for the rest of the set? Pretty cool. And even though it should've felt out-of-place and pretentious, his venture far into the crowd across the barrier to make everyone sit down and then jump up mid song Slipknot style puts a smile on everyone's face when an arrogant teenage girl is the only one who refuses to sit down, right in front of the vocalist. It's all very well executed, and the crowd wakes up to cheer for the band, having been relatively quiet and non-responsive to the band in the beginning. I guess the teens at the front simply don't understand The Riverboat Gamblers the same way as Veara given how much more punk rock they are based on activity, but the raw fact is that their songs are definitely on another level than the first support's. A great performance that took me by complete surprise.

8

The Black Pacific

I had my reservations about The Black Pacific. I was prepared to hate this band because Pennywise used to be one of my favorite bands and you just don't leave a band after 20 years of being "the voice" of skatepunk. So with more than just a healthy amount of skepticism in mind, the band basically pulled the carpet underneath my suspicions and proved once and for all that Jim is the carrying force of any band, and when you have him in the lineup, it's bound to be pretty fuckin' awesome. The band kicks off with their two strongest songs in the start ("The System" and "When It's Over") as if to prove a point: we're not Pennywise, but we're still great, fuck the haters. Mission accomplished. Then there's a pause in music where Jim claims he is punk as fuck because he's playing with a broken rib that he sustained while skateboarding, and you know what, he's right. He's so synonymous with everything punk rock in the eyes of most, especially when it comes to skatepunk. Tonight is yet another display of how good of a vocalist he really is: the cleans are like straight from Pennywise's high-points, and when he's complemented with the wooah-wooah backup vocals, it sounds all the better. Now, before the show some of us were speculating that they were going to play for about 45 minutes and the album definitely wasn't 45 minutes long, so they would have to come up with something else, a cover perhaps? Just think of how awesome it would be to hear a classic Pennywise track tonight...and when the band announce a cover as the next song with a dramatic pause, you can tell some people's heart's jumped up their throat in excitement....but it's too soon, so instead we get a Jim Lindberg-ized version of "Blitzkrieg Bop" (Ramones), which is pretty good as well. Consider all of my initial skepticism shattered to pieces though: The Black Pacific demonstrate that they are a good band - maybe not Pennywise good - to be taken seriously.

Sum 41

Erm... if I had actually paid for my ticket, I would be demanding a partial refund for tonight. It's fair enough to pay some money for the support bands, who all did a great job, but the Sum 41 part of the show was, in a nutshell, over-commercialized bullshit designed by people with dollar signs in their eyes from start to finish. Now, I mentioned how I thought they sucked at Groezrock, but my subconscious convinced me that maybe I was just too drunk to appreciate what they were doing back then. My subconscious was wrong. The band starts out with AC/DC classic "T.N.T" as the intro music, and once it's done, the band rushes on stage and vocalist Deryck enthusiastically shouts "here...we..gooooo", at first fooling us into thinking this is going to be an awesome set with high-energy stage performance surrounding opening track "The Hell Song". One of their best tracks "We're All To Blame" follows directly thereafter, but here's where the troubles begin. The song is paused with a prolonged repeat-riff in order for Deryck to pick four or five audience members (one by one) to join the stage, and asks the crowd security to help them. I know that sounds fairly awesome on paper, but the whole debacle lasts so long that upon checking my watch, over 20 minutes have passed since the start of their set and they're not even done with the second song! Bear in mind these are 2-3 minute pop punk songs, and you'll understand just the pain that the rest of us in the crowd had to endure. "Come on, we're loving the songs, play some more", all of us are collectively thinking out loud, because in all honest Sum 41 are great when they are playing songs. They have good energy and they play their songs faithfully - often in increased tempo even - so nothing to complain there.

What really does piss me off is that just about after every second song - and sometimes even more often than that - they spend nearly 5 minutes (+/- 2 min) on various crowd control techniques that they have directly copied from Green Day on the "American Idiot" tour half a decade ago. We don't wanna hear "okay now you guys go HEY HEY HEY", "not good enough, how about you guys on that side, hey hey hey", etc etc from a band that introduced so many of us to punk rock. We don't care about idiotic decisions to spend 10 minutes on the aforementioned only to follow it up with completely pretentious bullshit like "who wants to hear some metal, guys, I'll let you pick the song, Tom Thacker here knows how to play ANY metal song", after which he proceeds to 'ask' the crowd members what songs they wanna hear....the unanimous shout back is "Slayer" and a bunch of death metal bands I can't remember right now, which the band blatantly ignores to continue the pre-planned set as on the setlist by playing Van Halen's "Hot For A Teacher" and Metallica's "Master Of Puppets". It disgusts me that the band doesn't bother to even thinly veil the start-to-finish scripted manner that is their 'stage show'. All of this irks me off so much that when the band are starting on yet another round of crowd control, I decide to go to the bathroom for a piss, followed by going to the bar and buying a beer, and by the time I'm back, they haven't even started on the next song. Jesus christ. It baffles me how bad a band can be with so many fucking awesome songs that all of us are ready to sing along to, dance to, even mosh to. Like I said, they are so good when they play songs, so I hate the band for wasting so much time on stage when they could play another five or six songs instead. And I'm not alone with my sentiments. A crowd member got so pissed off he shoveled his beer towards the band in frustration at one point to the show.

Ranting saide, there's a few more aspects I'd like to discuss in this review, one of them being the new song "Scumfuck". I must admit I was positively surprised and kinda look forward to the new record now, because this song had a distinct dark edge to it like the ones on their best album so far, "Chuck". Could it be that something good is going to come out of the new record? The new songs from "Underclass Hero", however, are almost complete garbage, and receive next to no reception from the crowd. Perhaps this is why they are moving back to a heavier direction? Time will tell. Anyway, to sum up the review, I've often had heated arguments in the past with people calling Sum 41 un-punk, the full implication of which I have never truly understood, but I totally get it now. There is nothing 'punk' about these guys, gone are the days when they traveled to Congo in support of a charity organization back in 2004 to document the civil war in the country. So when Deryck at one point tells the crowd to shout "fuck you Sum41" (like NOFX does often), you can tell the people here are shouting it back at the band from the bottom of their hearts. Fuck you Sum 41.

4

Setlist:

1. The Hell Song

2. We're All To Blame

3. My Direction

4. Walking Disaster

5. Skumfuk

6. Motivation

7. Medley (Hot For Teacher/Master of Puppets)

8. King of Contradiction

9. Underclass Hero

10. Welcome To Hell

11. Still Waiting

12. Fat Lip

Encore:

13. In Too Deep

14. Pain For Pleasure

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