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Sum 41
Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 at Roseland
Ballroom, New York City, April 4, 2002
Photo © 2002 Universal/Island Records

  

Sum Like It Hot: Sum 41 at Roseland, by Jeanne Fury

There are rumors that Sum 41 are a satanic bunch of kids who worship the devil. Note to rock students, open your album with some James Earl Jones-sounding dude doing some mock prince-of-darkness shtick, and bam! you're Marilyn Manson's understudies. For the record, Sum 41 are about as toxic as a keg of Sunny Delight. Their pubertal pop-punk music brings out the Beavis and Butthead in all of us.

When Sum 41 took the stage, all the kids got stoopid. A few bodies braved the burly Roseland security guards and crowd-surfed, a cup of beer (or juice) went flying. The vibe was rambunctious, infectious, and incredibly silly – exactly like the impossibly catchy music they play. Things seemed out-of-place, though. It felt like this show should've taken place at a local high-school gymnasium. Youth is king, my friends, and tonight it inherited a larger kingdom.

The band opened with "Motivation" and "Rhythms" from 2001's All Killer No Filler, and all the mouths in Roseland sang along to Deryck Whibley's vocals. Bassist Cone McCaslin and lead guitarist Dave Baksh spun in the air like gravity was so last year. They looked like they were doing skateboard ollies without the skateboards.

  Sum 41
Sum 41
"Welcome to Hell!" screamed sinner, I mean, singer Whibley. "You'll all be going to Hell after a Sum 41 show!!" I didn't think that whole rock-equals-Hell-ha-ha thing still worked with today's listeners, but damn were they excited whenever any Satan reference came up. Those aforementioned rumors are serving a purpose by feeding the shtick. And the band and their fans seem to love it.

"Every time we come [to New York City], there's always really, really good-looking women," said Whibley before the band broke into "In Too Deep," and the heads bounced like jumping beans. For all their attempts at being crass, these guys can harmonize like a choir. It's common knowledge that the sound system at Roseland blows, but it improved to miracle proportions since I was there last, making me appreciate the tonal sweetness that much more.

Speaking of sweet, we were treated to mock-metal theatrics (i.e. dance routines) by Whibley, McCaslin, and Baksh. Step one-two-three, to the side two-three, and guitar in the air two-three. Whibley doubled as a clown/comedian, staging a pretend guitar contest with Baksh. The crowd ate up the jocular dorkiness.

"How many people like metal music, bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica?!" asked Whibley upon his return to the mic. Me! Me! "How many people want me to shut the fuck up and play the next song?" Me! Me!

A few songs later, when the guitarists and bassist left the stage, drummer Steve Jocz was given a chance to show off. With drumsticks momentarily aflame, Jocz threw down some hard-hitting solos, and egged the crowd on by cupping his hand behind his ear a la Hulk Hogan.

"This next song's about lesbians!" yelled Whibley. Apparently, this crowd really loves songs about lesbians and responded in kind to the sad and sensitive tune, "Handle This." The pace quickly changed when Whibley yelled out, "How many people are all about rock?!" One girl got so excited that she sat on her friend's shoulders and repeatedly flashed her enormous hooters. Honey, where do you think you are? At a Pantera concert? Look at these guys, for cryin' out loud! They should be working at Blockbuster, not getting free skin shows! Dorks getting the boobs of approval – I love it.

A sit-in drummer arrived and Jocz grabbed a mic to rap the band's MTV-approved hit-single "Fat Lip." The crowd swirled about in the smatterings of pits, and the band trounced around the stage like they built it themselves.

Does Sum 41 take anything – including their rock stardom – seriously? Pull my finger for the answer.

April 2002

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