NEW YORK — “The last time we were here,” declared Deryck Whibley
from the stage, “two girls came up and made out.”
The pronouncement by Sum 41’s singer/guitarist Tuesday at CBGB was met with
screams and raised hands, an indication that several fans were willing to
participate in a reenactment.
“This time we have to top it,” the adorable, spiky shorn frontman added, and
approached bassist Cone McCaslin, tilted his head and parted his lips.
Psych! Both pulled away at the last second. “No way!” they said in unison.
The fourth stop on the band’s Sum On Your Face club tour wasn’t filled with
such homoerotic near-misses, but the juvenile joke was a slice of the kind of
fun Whibley, McCaslin, guitarist Dave Baksh and drummer Steve Jocz were
having in the intimate setting (see “Sum 41 Ready For Intimate Sum On Your
Face Tour” ).
Billed as a live preview of new songs such as “Over My Head, Better Off
Dead,” “Hell Song” and “All Messed Up” from their new album Does This Look
Infected? due November 26 (see “Sum 41 Ask, Does This Look
Infected?“ ), the show served as a
fitting playground for Sum 41 to boast confident punk skills while flaunting
their inner metalheads.
Baksh was first to cut loose with a behind-the-head guitar solo on set opener
“Machine Gun,” off 2000’s Half Hour Of Power, before closing the song
with a guttural scream that would have made Cannibal Corpse proud. Opposing
“Nothing on My Back” and other straightforward songs their fans adopted as
anthems were those that served as vehicles on which to hang recognizable
riffs from Judas Priest and Mötley Crüe. Iron Maiden, whose
signature guitar scales greatly influence Does This Look Infected?
received the greatest homage when their classic “The Trooper” was given a
honorable send-up. Even the Strokes got skewered when Sum 41 launched into
the Tom Petty-purloined bridge from “Last Nite,” whose video is the target of
Sum 41’s parodic clip for Infected’s first single “Still Waiting” (see
“Sum 41 Spoof Strokes, Stripes, Vines In ’Still Waiting’ Video.” )
On their three records, Sum 41 use time-tested punk elements like jabbing
stomps and whoa-whoa choruses to engage their audience, and their live shows
are no different. The problem Tuesday was that not everyone at the show was
receptive to the bait. Sure, “special” New York gigs are notorious for being
filled with distracted members of the music industry, but considering that
the only way attendees obtained their tickets was through Sum 41’s Web site
and the local rock radio station, the overall level of enthusiasm was
surprisingly low. When Whibley called for a “41 Salute” — four raised
fingers on one hand, and only the middle digit standing tall on the other
— only the first three or four rows heeded his words.
Excitement surged, naturally, for the singles. Even the casual fan, industry
personnel or a parent chaperoning their 16-year-old showed signs of life for
“Motivation,” prompting the crowd’s pogo-ing peak, “In Too Deep,” and “Fat
Lip,” which fostered a sing-along for the slacker mantra, “Don’t count on me”
in the song’s bridge.
After fulfilling a request for Half Hour of Power’s “Makes No
Difference” as an encore, Whibley thanked the crowd and informed them that
“All She’s Got” would be Sum 41’s last song of the evening.
Though another tune was rendered, Whibley wasn’t lying. “Pain for Pleasure,”
by Sum’s alter ego Pain for Pleasure, featuring Jocz and Whibley swapping
instruments, closed the set with metallic mastery. Jocz’s soaring vocals
climbing way up in the operatic register, and the show ended fittingly
tongue-in-cheek — even if not everyone in the room thought the flavor
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.