How do you top seeing one of your all time favorite bands? How do you top them playing all, and I literally mean all, of your favorite songs? Well, the answer is quite simple: you don’t. So that’s where I am, having seen Sum 41 in Minneapolis on October 22.
Normally, when I shoot a show I don’t get to enjoy it as much. This show was so incredible that I got to enjoy it in and outside of the photo pit. It was full of firsts for me as well as surprises. For one thing, Patty Walters, the frontman of the show’s opener As It Is, is a Minneapolis native. That may not sound odd on it’s own, but As It Is is a Pop Punk band from the UK. At least half of the crowd was just as confused as I was, none the less it was really cool seeing someone from Minnesota make it in a band like that. Their first song featured Cameron Burns of Out Came The Wolves on guest vocals, and it rocked pretty hard. As It Is’ set was something special, especially to the girls in the front row who were belting out the lyrics of every song as loud as they could, putting a smile on Walter’s face.
If someone asked me to describe Senses Fail, I would instantly say goof balls, but in the most positive sense. Frontman Buddy Nielsen is a character to say the least. He was rolling around the stage, doing flips, push ups, hand stands, and eventually he pulled out an airhorn. At most shows when the vocalist talks or makes jokes it’s awkward and a silence can run through the crowd. That was not the case with Buddy; he made several jokes and got the crowd to interact with him. He pointed to a guy in the front row and said “This dude is asleep! And these little girls look scared!” His antics got them pumped up and excited. I have never listened to Senses Fail until this night, and expected them to be similar to As It Is, but yet again I was surprised by the amount of heavy vocals present. About halfway through the set, their sound changed from post hardcore to pop punk. The heavier songs reminded me of bands like Backtrack and Hundredth, whereas the softer songs were a cross between All Time Low and Panic At The Disco! I felt like I was back in the mid 2000’s. It sounds a little weird, but believe me they really pulled it off and I enjoyed both aspects on their genre range. When their set had ended the crowd had become for restless in anticipation for Sum 41.
As Sum 41 came on stage the crowd went absolutely mental. They opened with one of my personal favorite songs “The Hell Song” from their 2002 album Does This Look Infected? I couldn’t help but sing along as I took photos, even the security guards looked like they were having a good time. By the time I left the photo pit after the third song, more and more fans floated over the barricade. I was lucky enough to have people save my spot the entire night and I had a pretty amazing view. As soon as I put all of my gear away “Screaming Bloody Murder” echoed through the venue. This was one of the first songs I ever heard by them and I absolutely loved it and still do.
As vocalist Deryck Whibley introduced a song entitled “War” from their new album, 13 Voices, you could tell he spoke from the heart. He talked a bit about his recovery and he talked about asking himself what he was fighting for. Countless fans sang along to his words:
“So all that I’m trying to say/
I’m looking for a better way/
Some days it just gets so hard.
And I don’t wanna slip away/
So what am I fighting for?”
The chorus rang through the entire space and I bet you could’ve heard us from down the street. “War” is an anthem for fighting your battles.
When I was fourteen, I was going through a really dark and negative period. I was in a partial day treatment center to help with my depression and anxiety, but I had my iPod and Sum 41 and it really helped. I would jam out to Sum 41 every morning and every evening when they would drive me there and back home. When I listened to Sum 41 I didn’t feel like this really weird kid who was depressed, which wasn’t “normal” at the school I went to at the time. No one had meltdowns, and if they did it wasn’t talked about, you were just an outcast. I feel like every piece I write I talk about how this band and that band helped and so on. But Sum 41 was really one of the very first bands to make a difference in my life. “Screaming Bloody Murder” and “Still Waiting” were probably my most played songs.
As the night progressed the more I realized why I and so many others love this band. It’s not only because of their sound, or their lyrics, it’s because of their hearts. It’s because of how much they love us their fans and all of the different generations of fans that they have. I saw people well into their 40’s having the best time of their lives and kids also having so much fun.
Sum 41’s set was the most incredible one I have ever seen and the longest set I’ve seen. It made me smile, laugh, and cry. Yes, I actually did cry and this was the first time I cried at a show. They played “With Me”, which is a song that really means a great deal to me. I was transported back to that very vulnerable place and it kind of stripped me of this tough exterior that I try to pass off as who I am. This was the first time I’ve ever been so fragile in public but I felt safe. I was with a huge group of people who understood me, accepted me, and they didn’t judge me. It felt like I knew every single person in that room with me. After over an hour we were all sweaty and tired and we wanted more. We witnessed the most incredible drum solo and wonderful guitar solos as well. When Deryck said goodbye to the crowd and they all walked off, of course we knew they were going to come back, but I don’t think anyone expected them to play a three song encore.
To end the night, they played the song that everybody came to hear: “Fat Lip”. When the song ended, I wished that it hadn’t. The crowd dispersed after a few minutes of awestruck silence. We left drenched in nostalgic teenage angst.