SUM 41 + No Warning @ Metropolis

By Jordan-na - Canadian Invasion - 01/14/2005

The first stop of Sum 41’s “Go Chuck Yourself” Canadian tour was a sold-out show at Montreal’s Metropolis. They were out to promote their latest release Chuck, featuring what they describe as a metal-influenced sound with a more mature outlook. Chuck was named after a UN representative that got the band out of a life-threatening situation during a War Child sponsored visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The lead single, “We’re All to Blame,” suggests that the band has grown up over the course of their last four albums and now cares about social issues and the current state of our world, yet their show suggests otherwise.

No Warning, a hardcore outfit from Toronto, opened up for Sum 41.“Montreal get yer fuckin’ fists in the air!” They played in front of a yellow curtain and flat lighting, reminding you that this is only opening act, make no doubt. But they are more hard rock than Sum 41 could ever hope to be. Parts metal, parts hard rock with a slight tinge of punk, lead singer Ben Cook delivered his vocals in an angry screamo style accompanied by heavy guitar riffs and loud banging drums. Cook’s favourite word seemed to be “fuck” and variations in case you didn’t get that they are hardcore: “Thank you very fucking much” “Shake your fuckin’ tits if you’re ready for Sum 41.” It was as if they were embarrassed about opening for a mainstream band and overcompensated by acting as what they thought were bad-ass hard rockers. The music was typical pissed-off hardcore stuff. Nothing really stood out as one song sounded like the next. Perhaps they should have proved themselves by working harder on their music rather than their image.

Sum 41 obliterated any lingering thoughts of No Warning with a high-tech multimedia spectacle. Their show started off with a short film of the band members playing a basketball game that ended in a comical bloody murder, complete with body parts puréed in a blender and fried in a pan.

The Sums took the stage which was set up like an elaborate playground for the band. The speakers were set up so the guys could jump off of them. Drummer Stevo’s kit was on a raised platform with ramps on either side. He sported a blood splattered apron from the video skit. The backdrop was the Sum 41 logo surrounded by TV sets playing random clips and images. It was perfect for ADD types, with televisions to distract you, flashing lights, the band running up, down and around the stage. . . and oh yeah, there was the music.

Sum 41 opened up with “The Hell Song”, written for a friend who contracted a fatal disease, perhaps to remind us of how the band has matured and showing off their serious side. All their hits were played and the band did a decent job of recreating their repertoire live. The set list was wisely chosen to please both old and new fans, taking songs from all the albums. The crowd was more into the new Sum 41 material, singing along to new songs like “Pieces” and “Still Waiting.” There wasn’t the reaction I expected for their first big single “It Makes No Difference.” This crowd was more into the “new” Sum 41.
Singer Deryck was the center of attention. The other band members wore black and white but Deryck cavorted around the stage in a red t-shirt, doing Elvis and George W. Bush impersonations. The highlight came when at the end of “It Makes No Difference.” Deryck left the stage and reappeared near the soundboard in the back of the mosh pit. A keyboard was brought out and he played the mellowest song of their career, a ballad titled “Pieces.”

The concert was harmless fun for 15 year olds. But the show left me a bit cold with its contradictory message. Sum 41 is now trying to project an image of a band that is going back to the punk roots of social rebellion by caring about issues that affect our world. Yet they present certain contradictions in their image by having their tour heavily sponsored by Rogers mobile. A big Rogers ad was projected above the stage before the show, imploring the audience to text and win! It just reminded us of how commercial Sum 41 is. You can’t be pissed off about society and want to change the world while having your tour sponsored by a major cell phone company. It just doesn’t add up.

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