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Review: Sum 41 brings gnarly energy, nostalgia to Columbus stage

Tim Kubick / For The Lantern

Canadian punk-rock quartet Sum 41 made a pit stop in Columbus to perform for a crowd whose teen years were largely guided by the group’s high-energy, “stick-it-to-the-man” anthems of the 2000s.
But before Sum 41, who last performed in Columbus more than a year ago, could pack its long-awaited punch, two fellow Canadian bands opened the show at Newport Music Hall Tuesday night.
Hunter Valentine, an all-girl group from Toronto, took the stage first and performed songs off its 2012 album, “Collide and Conquer,” taking every opportunity to wake up the crowd.
“You can move for girls too, right?” asked frontwoman Kiyomi McCloskey in between songs. “Or is it too early and you’re too sober?”
Following was Hollerado, a group from Ottawa that had a noticeably softer-hitting sound than that of the night’s headliner but one that nestled comfortably between the other two acts.
Hollerado performed older tracks like 2010’s “Americanarama” but also songs from its newest album, “White Paint,” released Feb. 26.
Frontman Menno Versteeg encouraged fans to leave behind the inevitable head-bobbing that comes with hearing a catchy tune whose lyrics are unknown and let loose instead.
He spoke on behalf of the band, telling the audience the group was happy to be back in Ohio’s capital city.
“We’ve been to Columbus before,” Versteeg said. “But it’s one of the places we like – Cincinnati is hard to spell.”
With blood fully pumping in an audience that had been buzzing excitedly since the doors opened, Sum 41 took the stage just after 10 p.m. for a crowd that was ready for some old favorites – and it got them.
Opening its set with the up-tempo “The Hell Song” from its 2002 album, “Does This Look Infected?” Sum 41 immediately sent any 20-somethings in the venue soaring back a decade to bad skin and even worse social skills while simultaneously reminding us of the acceptance we (ironically) felt in lyrics like “Everybody’s got their problems / Everybody says the same thing to you / It’s just a matter of how you solve them / And knowing how to change the things you’ve been through.”
Arguably one of Sum 41’s most popular albums, other songs performed from “Does This Look Infected?” included “Over My Head (Better Off Dead),” “A.N.I.C.,” “No Brains,” “Mr. Amsterdam” and “Still Waiting,” all of which Sum 41 injected even more energy into live than what can be heard on the recorded counterparts.
The band didn’t ignore its other works, playing the popular “In Too Deep” as well as “Motivation” from its 2001 debut album, “All Killer No Filler.” It also performed “Skumfuk” and “Sick of Everyone” from its most recent album, “Screaming Bloody Murder,” released in 2011.
Sum 41 also snuck in some singles from the 2007 release “Underclass Hero,” including its title track and “Walking Disaster,” as well as “We’re All to Blame” from 2004’s “Chuck,” which seemed to be one of the biggest crowd-pleasers.
“Well, well, well … you guys like that metal s—, huh?” said frontman Deryck Whibley in a lull during “We’re All to Blame,” asking the audience about its favorite metal band and joking, “we’re gonna play some Sum 41 right now.”
At a time when Auto-Tune appears to reign supreme in the music industry, fuschia-haired Whibley proved to the crowd he truly possesses the pipes heard on each of the band’s full-length albums – and has stage presence to match.
Whibley moved about the stage in a way that can only be likened to Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of DC Comics villain, the Joker, bending and contorting in sometimes twitchy movements but always in a way that worked with the song being played and which added to the overall atmosphere of the show.
Some fans got to see these moves up close when Whibley pulled six audience members to the stage, interacting with them throughout the set.
Concluding a 13-song setlist, Sum 41 disappeared backstage – but something seemed to be missing from the show.
“Fat Lip” was the song responsible for catapulting Sum 41 to success in 2001 and putting them on the musical radars of teenagers everywhere, but hadn’t been played.
Sum 41 reappeared, now with drummer and vocalist Steve Jocz’s kit equipped with a microphone, and performed covers of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” before delivering its final punk-rock anthem in the form of fan favorite “Fat Lip.”
“I feel a lot of love here tonight,” Whibley told the audience. “I feel the love.”
In over an hour onstage, Sum 41 clearly demonstrated to its audience that even after a decade of performances, it has stayed true to its original sound and maintains the ability to get its fans amped up – albeit a little nostalgic.
And for that, its fans are grateful.

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