CINCINNATI — With the exception of a few brief Eddie Van Halen-style, vintage 1984 hammer-on solos from guitarist Dave Baksh, Sum 41 managed to keep their cheesy metal jones in check during the fourth show of the Does This Look Infected? tour. But, at the conclusion of their 75-minute headlining set Wednesday night at a sold-out, sweaty Bogart's, the Canadian punkers broke the dam and went full retro metal on the unsuspecting crowd of teenage fans.
When drummer Steve Jocz came out from behind his kit, passed his sticks off to singer Deryck Whibley and grabbed the microphone, you knew things were going to get real Motörhead, real fast. And they did. As the band bashed through "Pain for Pleasure, " Jocz did his best metal maniac singer imitation, aided by Baksh's Dio-like falsetto wailing and chunky power chords.
It was the perfect cap to a night of irreverent, pogoing pop punk during which Sum kept the crowd bouncing with a selection of their hits, nearly every track from their Does This Look Infected? album and snippets of songs by everyone from Queens of the Stone Age to Avril Lavigne. With the stage flanked by a pair of tapestries with images of a frightwig-wearing woman, the quartet bounded out and jumped right into the new tune "Mr. Amsterdam," as singer Whibley worked the stage in his no-frills, black-on-black Dickies and long-sleeve T-shirt ensemble.
With hardly a, "Hello, Cincinnati!," the band crashed through the new songs "My Direction" and "Hyper-Insomnia-Para-Condroid" and their smash hit "Fat Lip" in less than six minutes, with Baksh and lanky bassist Cone McCaslin sprinting back and forth across the stage, constantly changing places and bouncing in place. Whibley, Baksh and McCaslin flawlessly spun and jumped in unison during "Lip," as Jocz did his patented punk rap on the breakdown. Diminutive singer Whibley strapped on a guitar that looked almost as big as his torso and did a dead-on impersonation of Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong on "All Messed Up," down to the phony British punk accent and the hyped-up, circus-barker delivery.
Though he'd kept his notes in check up until that point, Baksh finally unleashed the fury for the first time during "In Too Deep," which mixed power pop punk with power chords, as the guitarist did some finger tapping on his fretboard and Cone uncorked a Poison-style bass swing around his neck.
Whibley finally chatted up the audience midway through the set when he seemed disappointed that the crowd didn't fully appreciate his busting into Public Enemy's "911 Is a Joke" during "Makes No Difference."
"You don't like that one, huh?" he sneered, launching a loogie onto stage left. "You like the rock? How's this?" The band then played the intro to Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows," followed by the lead-in to pal and fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne's "Complicated," which brought a rain of boos. During a night in which Sum playfully copped the attitude and styles of everyone from Blue öyster Cult, Rancid, NOFX and Mötley Crüe, Whibley paid respect to a different kind of hero during "Nothing on My Back," which featured a dead-on, song-ending take of Nirvana's "You Know You're Right."
Tongue nearly jutting through cheek, Whibley introduced the expletive-laden homage to Anna Nicole Smith, "A.N.I.C.," as the "most personal song we've ever written." The speed punk tune blasted by in less than 25 seconds, making way for a tune that does deal with some real issues, the relatively sedate new single, "The Hell Song." Whibley again asked the crowd for some help picking a song to play, but when someone suggested something by '70s makeup mavens Kiss, the singer pointedly shouted, "F--- Kiss!"
The set ended with an, um, Kiss-like moment, as Whibley, Baksh and McCaslin swung their guitars side to side in perfect heavy metal time during their hit "Still Waiting." Whibley dropped his bratty stage persona for a brief second during the encore rendition of "Hooch," during which he crooned the lines, "I'll fall into you/ But I don't believe that this is real," as if he were singing, well, let's be honest here, an Avril Lavigne song.
The show opened with a set of melodic loud fast rules anthems from veteran punks No Use for a Name and relative newcomers Starting Line and Authority Zero.
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