October 21, 2016 Sum 41 Make Epic Return to NYC 10-14-16 w/ Senses Fail & As It Is
Life in a Rock-n-Roll band can be strenuous on the body, sometimes to the point that it can be life altering. For Pop Punk icons Sum 41, this became an ugly reality, and after many years of touring hard, they announced they would be taking a break from the road in 2013 to work on new music. Then, Lead Singer Deryck Whibley landed in the hospital due to alcohol abuse, leaving the band’s future in question. A fast lifestyle caught up with him, but as Whibley states, his beacon of hope was his determination to complete the new Sum 41 album. Now, after literally and figuratively being brought back from the brink of death, Whibley and the fellows in Sum 41 have returned in full force in 2016. Rejuvenated and inspired, they spent the summer on Vans Warped Tour, signed a new record deal with Hopeless Records, and released their first studio album in six years on October 7th, 13 Voices. Compounding it all, they continue to celebrate their return with the humorously dubbed Don’t Call It A Sum-Back Tour.
All positive news for Sum 41 fans, the band has seemingly picked up right where they left off, touring heavily and delivering a high quality album. Briefly looking back to the early years, Sum 41’s debut full-length album, 2001’s All Killer, No Filler, set the bar high, since going three times platinum in their homeland of Canada and one time platinum in the USA. Standing out because of their diverse combination of influences, their songs draw from genres such as Heavy Metal, Pop Punk, and Alternative Rock; a factor embraced by a mix of music fans. Sum 41’s fall headlining tour with support from Senses Fail and As It Is is one of the hottest tickets around. Scheduled to go coast to coast through November 6th, Whibley, Guitarists Dave Baksh and Tom Thacker, Bassist Jason McCaslin, along with new Drummer Frank Zummo set their sights on The City That Never Sleeps for a sold out performance at Playstation Theater on Friday, October 14th.
First up to bat was British Pop Punk band As It Is. On the rise for the past few years, As It Is’ 2015 debut album, Never Happy, Ever After, left a big impression on audiences. Now finding themselves opening the Don’t Call It A Sum-Back Tour, the band look to expand their reach to more fans.
With Patty Walters (vocals), Andy Westhead (guitar), Patrick Foley (drums), Benjamin Langford-Biss (guitar), and Alistair Testo (bass), the collective greeted early comers with an energy that would set the tone for the night. With more and more people filing into the pit, the adrenaline flowed with “Sorry” and “Speak Soft” before showing off new tunes such as “Okay.” Continuing with “Can’t Save Myself,” “Concrete,” and “Horoscopes,” they closed out the set with “Dial Tones” to a mass of cheers. Still moving toward the top, As It Is are one of the busiest bands in the industry and, upon the end of this tour, they will head overseas to Europe with State Champs in early 2o17. In January, they are set to release their sophomore album, Okay.
Overflowing with immense excitement, the crowd at Playstation Theater were ready for Tri-State area heroes Senses Fail. Hailing from just across the water in New Jersey, this band has a deep history that dates back nearly fifteen years, resulting in them becoming one of the most respected Post-Hardcore bands on the scene. Celebrated for their onstage energy, Senses Fail has been kept going by founding Vocalist James “Buddy” Nielsen through various lineup changes. Determined to put out a better album each time, Nielsen and Senses Fail did just that with 2015’s Pull the Thorns from Your Heart, a record that is their most mature to date. Constantly touring over the recent years, Nielsen enjoys the company of Guitarists Zack Roach and Matt Smith, Bassist Gavin Caswell, as well as Drummer Chris Hornbrook as they set out to rattle crowds each and every night.
Ready to unleash hell on the New York crowd, it would not take long to get everyone moving as the band jumped into “You’re Cute When You Scream” followed by “Shark Attack.” Nielsen showed off not only his singing prowess, but his athleticism as he jump and cartwheeled across the stage as a mosh pit opened up on the center of the floor. Tracks like “Canine,” “Wounds,” and early favorite “Lady in a Blue Dress” soon followed as bodies were flying around, but in good fun of course.
Allowing little time for anyone to catch their breath, it was “Calling All Cars” and “Buried A Lie” coming together as a one-two punch, but “Rum is for Drinking, Not for Burning” brought everything to a new level. Engaging the audience even more, toward the end of their set they asked if everyone was ready for Sum 41 while also tipping their hat to As It Is. After, “Can’t Be Saved” and 2004’s “Bite To Break Skin” wrapped up their performance. Senses Fail pumped out heavy-hitting tracks from their entire discography, and did so with a generous balance. In 2014, the band set out on a 10th anniversary tour in honor of 2004’s Let It Enfold You, but with only a couple of months left in 2016, can fans hope to see some sort of celebration for 2006’s Still Searching? Unlikely, but who knows what the new year may bring.
Now fully primed and ready to go, New York City was bursting at the seams with anticipation for Sum 41’s return. Keep in mind, Sum 41 did in fact play at Vans Warped Tour on July 7th out in Wantagh, Long Island earlier this year, but it has been nearly four years since they actually performed in New York City. In fact, their last visit to the city was on November 14th of 2012 when they performed at Irving Plaza. Nearly doubling their capacity by booking Playstation Theater, it was not in vain, because this show was packed to the gills.
After All Killer, No Filler’s “Introduction to Destruction” voice-work was greeted by screams of joy, it was off to the races with two of their hottest tracks in “The Hell Song” and “Over My Head (Better Off Dead).” Quite a quick rush of blood to the head, everyone was fully amped up, with tons of crowd-surfing, moshing, and dancing taking over the pit. In fact, some in the balcony to the left and right of the stage stood on chairs to get a better look, while others belted out the words to each song at the top of their lungs. Going into new songs “Fake My Own Death” and “Goddamn I’m Dead Again,” Whibley offered a glimpse into the struggles he faced. Thankfully, he recovered and the music could be looked at as the remedy.
Continuing on, having fun with the crowd, Whibley pulled a member from the crowd on stage asking if he thought he could play guitar better. Up to the challenge, the fan played a solo that left the rest of the audience as well as the band impressed. The playful antics did not die down from there, instead they expanded with “Underclass Hero,” “Screaming Bloody Murder,” new song “There Will Be Blood,” and sing-along favorite, “Motivation.” Then, changing it up a bit, Sum 41 showed their love for Heavy Metal by blasting into a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Aces High” as Baksh and Thacker showed off their guitar skills. For Metal fans, it was a treat, for others, it was a novelty before more original hits such as “We’re All to Blame,” “Walking Disaster,” “With Me,” and “God Save Us All (Death to POP).”
A quick break, everyone left the stage besides Zummo, leaving the percussionist alone for a spotlights solo. With the crowd in the palm of his hand, Sum 41’s newest member blasted through the solo with ease before the rest of the band rejoined him with the intro off of 2004’s Chuck playing over the speakers. This could only mean one thing, it was time for the single “No Reason.” With each “Hey,” Sum 41 pointed their microphones towards the crowd, enticing them to interact. Feeling like everyone was on top of the world, it was a perfect time to rock out to Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” where the band molded the track to their playing style, all while still staying faithful to the original. Bringing in some theatrics, a massive skeleton with eyes glowing red, giving the middle finger, stood behind the band as they closed out with two big hits, “Still Waiting” and “In Too Deep.”
Already a twenty song set, who could ask for more? Well, more was to come as Sum 41 returned, this time with a keyboard on stage where Whibley sat to play “Pieces.” A nice mix of diversity from the faster and heavier songs, it was followed by new album title-track, “13 Voices,” before the grand finale of “Fat Lip” as smoke poured out and confetti rained from the rafters. As this was not the most complete way to reintroduce themselves to hungry fans, Whibley and company surprising stuck around to sign autographs and meet fans after their set, capping off one hell of a night.
The Don’t Call it a Sum-Back Tour is not merely a nostalgic trip, it is a high-voltage return, showing these guys still have plenty left to offer. Most off all, they look like they are thoroughly enjoying themselves on stage and Whibley looks healthy and happy. Back and better than ever, Sum 41’s return is definitely Sum-thing worth checking out.