Sum 41 returned to Minneapolis, Minnesota with a shiny brand new album under their arm and an assortment of bands that ranged from one end of the musical spectrum to the other. Despite one of rocks rising stars, Ghost, playing a just a few miles away, the Skyway Theatre was sold out and packed to the rafters. The Amity Affliction, Bowling For Soup, Less Than Jake, Plot In You, and Authority Zero all had their shots to play in front of their fans and at the same time play in front of people that may not have any familiarity with them. Clearly the odd line-up worked because the crowd seemed to appreciate the various styles. Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to catch the first two acts, Authority Zero and Plot In You, and I’m hoping both make it back real soon.
The first band I did catch was the infectious and fun Less Than Jake. They had a party vibe that swept instantly over the crowd and people were singing and dancing through the entire set. The band has been kicking around a few decades now and no matter how many times you see them, their performance never gets old. The band rolled through a ten song set that started with “Gainesville Rock City” and included “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts,” “Plastic Cup Politics” and ended the night with “Last One Out Of Liberty City.” They sounded great and were extremely entertaining to watch.
The mighty Bowling For Soup took the stage next. They have crafted some of the catchiest pop punk tunes out there and they stuck to their guns and hammered home the hits while having some of the funniest stage banter you will ever hear come off the stage. Jaret Reddick (lead vocals/guitars) quickly announced that the band is older and fatter but did not eat Guy Fieri. They have never taken themselves all too seriously and it’s all about having fun and spilling that quick wit and humor onto the audience. They opened with “High School Never Ends” and ripped though “Almost,” “The Last Rock Show,” and “Punk Rock 101.” They also proclaimed to have written the greatest song ever about their home state of Texas, and they call it “Ohio,” and that pretty much sums up these guys. They closed the night with their two biggest hits, “1985” and “Girl All The Band Guys Want” and there were plenty people jumping and singing every lyric of those songs. It had been sometime since I last saw Bowling For Soup but I found them just as fun as I always had before. The new guy on bass, Rob Felicetti, seemed to fit perfectly with Reddick, Chris Burney (guitar), and Gary Wiseman (drums) and its nice to know they remain that fun-loving band that won me over decades ago.
Maybe the biggest adjustment for the audience was jumping from Bowling For Soup into the Australian metalcore band The Amity Affliction. The party vibe was quickly extinguished buy a more direct aggressive approach. From the moment they took the stage it was apparent that they had a lot of fans there to see them. There was a trail of crowd surfers throughout their set. The band released the album ‘Misery’ in 2018 and opened the night with “Drag The Lake.” The set included “Chasing Ghosts,” “Death’s Hand,” and “Shine On’ and closed with “Pittsburgh.” Of all the bands on this bill, The Amity Affliction, was the one I had very little knowledge of but despite my thinking that this probably wasn’t the best fit, tour wise, their fans came out and represented the band in numbers.
‘Order In Decline’ is the new album by Sum 41 and I thought it brought the band full circle back to the iconic ‘Does This Look Infected?’ and ‘Chuck.’ After five bands the anticipation for them could be felt within the theatre and when the lights went down and “The Hell Song” kicked in, the energy was bouncing off the walls. The band consisting off Deryck Whibley (vocals & guitars), Dave Brownsound (guitars), Jason “Cone” McCaslin (bass), Tom Thacker (guitars), and Frank Zummo (drums) hit the Skyway Theatre with an infectious energy and vibe that held the crowd captive through the entire set. They incorporate different elements into their music like rock, pop, punk, pop punk, and metal and put the pieces together for a distinct sound that is unique to them. The set moved from the fun-loving “Motivation” to the blazer “Over My Head (Better Off Dead),” to the crushing “We’re All To Blame” and the transition in styles was seamless. This night was a celebration of a band that has reestablished itself as force in modern music while showcasing a catalogue that is rich with hits that people still hold sacred as a link to their past. The first new cut to be played was “Out For Blood” and it didn’t disappoint. It is a song that would have fit nicely on those iconic albums with its aggressive approach and rousing chorus. They also unleashed “A Death In The Family” and “45 (A Matter Of Time) from the new record.
Sum 41 left no stone unturned as they went through twenty songs before calling it night. Some of the standouts for me were “No Reason,” “Underclass Hero,” and from the album ’13 Voices’ the blistering “Fake My Own Death.” The band itself looked and sounded great and there were smiles coming from the stage and being rightfully returned from the crowd all night long. In fact, The crowd was so engaged that when the power to the sound went out during “Still Waiting” the crowd sang the rest of the song to just the drums and they never missed a beat. The biggest moment of the night was “Fat Lip.” That song is as addicting today as it was when it was released back in 2001. There wasn’t a person not moving or singing and that’s the memory I put in my back pocket as I left the theatre. The saying goes, “have fun with Sum 41,” and that’s exactly what the packed Skyway Theatre and I did.