In 2002 Sum 41 released their career-defining LP “Does This Look Infected?” and took the world by storm. The merit of this album is widely celebrated, as you would be hard-pressed to find a fan of the genre who couldn’t give you a “Sum 41 Salute” without missing a beat. Going gold in America, and certified Platinum in their home country of Canada, DTLI helped define the genre of pop-punk in the early 2000s with hits such as “The Hell Song,” “Still Waiting,” and “Over My Head (Better Off Dead).” Now a decade and a half after the initial album release, Sum 41 stopped by San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre to kick off their tour celebrating the 15th anniversary of the release of this historic album. Fans young and old could not contain themselves as the band took the stage. As the curtain dropped and the confetti rained, Deryck Whibley and company took the stage to give the audience a show they would not soon forget.
The show began in classic Sum 41 fashion. Opening their high energy set with “The Hell Song,” they invited members of the audience up to the stage to stand alongside them, as they have come so accustomed to doing. The mosh pits opened up almost immediately as the crowd thrashed to heavier songs like “A.N.I.C” and “Never Wake Up.” The spirit of the early 2000s was well alive in the room that night as the band performed with as much energy as they would have 20 years ago.
As the night went on, Whibley took time to address the well-known events set in motion by his 2014 hospitalization following his battle with alcoholism. Losing his fight with addiction, he began the process of turning his life around. Knowing his best chance of recovery was emersion into music, Whibley’s first thought was to revisit old and incomplete songs from younger stages of his career. He mentioned to the crowd that after listening to a series of old cassette tapes, yes, cassette tapes, he stumbled upon a riff he had initially intended to premiere on “Does This Look Infected?” but in a rush to get the album to the shelves and begin touring, scrapped for time saving purposes. He revisited this riff years later and decided to give it the due attention he felt it deserved, eventually letting it become the song we now know as “Fake My Own Death.” Upon playing this song alongside a marathon of others from DTLI, it became clear that it was inspired by and intended to be released with Sum 41’s more classic works.
Famously, Whibley’s brush with death ultimately resulted in two milestones for Sum 41; it served as the inspiration behind their 2016 album “13 Voices” as well as acted as the catalyst for the return of the band’s original guitarist, Dave “Brownsound” Baksh. In 2006 Baksh left Sum 41 to pursue musical projects that he felt presented him with more of a challenge, eventually returning in 2015. Since his return, he has influenced Sum 41’s setlist to include representation of the music that has so inspired him. In this vein, the band played a rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” to the audience’s overwhelming approval.
Whibley confessed to the audience at one point during the set that the album “Does This Look Infected?” was made over the course of only a few weeks because the band members were so eager to begin touring. After seeing Sum 41 perform live, one fact remains unambiguous; the love they have for performing these songs is the same today as it was 15 years ago when they first wrote them. As the band ended their set with one of their first singles to gain worldwide attention “Fat Lip” the crowd roared to thank the artists. If nothing else one thing was made clear at the end of the night, pop-punk is not dead.
Toronto band Seaway performed just before Sum 41, giving the audience their own blend of heavy and consistent pop-punk-rock. Commanding the crowd, the band inspired the audience to get on their feet. The high octane set grabbed the audience and held the room’s attention throughout their time onstage. With a live sound much more arousing and resonant than much of their recorded music, Seaway delivered a fun set and inspired a great deal of energy from the audience.
Newly signed Hopeless Records act Super Whatevr opened the show with a solid set of smooth pop-punk inspired tracks. The band delivered the mellowest set of the night, gently introducing the audience to the music to come. Calm and down to earth, the members of the band took time to converse with the audience, humoring questions ranging from song requests to “can I touch your mustache?” being directed to the band’s new drummer playing his first show with the band. Although young and still finding their sound, Super Whatevr shows promise, and is certainly a band to keep an eye on for future success.