Sum 41 Survive a Pop-Punk Reality Show at Regency Ballroom, 1/12/13
Sum41 at the Regency Ballroom. Photos by the author.
Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013
Regency Ballroom, San Francisco
Better than: Survivor
The first band of the night, IAmDynamite, a guitar-and-drum duo, used tribal-like combinations of drum beats and singing to start off the night. But these guys weren't tribal warriors. They looked like the only fighting they'd ever seen was on a Dungeons and Dragons battlefield. During one particularly self-indulgent extended last note of a song, the singer rocked his glasses off. Sorry dawg, no golden ticket, you're not going to Hollywood.
Hunter Valentine was the all-female support for their friends, fellow Canadians, and the headliner of the night, Sum 41. The lesbian alternative rock band and stars of Showtime's "The Real L Word" played a set very similar to a reality show, in that lots of people were watching, and some were hooked -- but the material was predictable, gimmicky, and went on for what seemed like an eternity. Every passing minute of bland songs tied together by awkward stage banter made the glowing exit sign to the right of the stage look more enticing.
It was like the members of Hunter Valentine still thought that dropping F-bombs on stage was rebellious, so their singer did it frequently, to match with the group's pseudo-rebellious pop punk/emo aesthetic. Just like a reality show, the whole thing seemed fake, and songs about "drinking and fucking" made the band members look as if they were hand-chosen by the producers of the show to be the designated badasses. An alliance with Sum 41 has obviously turned out well for Hunter Valentine, but I suspect that if the band doesn't win immunity in the next challenge, it won't be getting a rose.
Sum 41, the Canadian group that everyone thought had been evicted from the house, was up next. AC/DC rocked the venue over the P.A. and had the crowd singing along as roadies set up the band's gear, including several extra guitars. Which I thought was weird because the band only has one song, "Fat Lip."
Time has not been kind to Deryck Whibley, the group's frontman. His thinning, spiky, red-dyed hair combined with his unfortunate facial expressions and creepy posture to make him look like a decrepit clown. Add to that his meaningless ramblings into the microphone (which were basically like being stuck next to a drunk relative at a holiday dinner), a very rowdy crowd, and some joyous feelings of nostalgia, and you have the recipe for a 2013 Sum 41 show.
The crowd was interesting to say the least. There were old people. There were young people. There was even a guy wearing Pooka shells. At one point Deryck Whibley invited four people to "party on stage with Sum 41 for the whole show." One of the chosen girls took her role a little too seriously and started spraying the crowd with her water bottle before being quickly stopped by a beefy security guard. The look of deflation and embarrassment on her face was worth the price of admission on it's own.
Sum 41 put out a very energetic and long performance, leaving the stage without playing "Fat Lip." Ooh, what a cliffhanger! Do you think they'll come back? Do you think Snookie is going to use the smush room? Do you think the two cattiest girls in the house will fight after a night of drinking? It seemed obvious that they were coming back, but then again it was a Sum 41 concert in 2013, so it felt like anything was possible.
After a short break the band took the stage, Deryck now wearing a captain hat, and played -- wait for it -- "Fat Lip." The whole crowd went into a jumping frenzy, nearly turning the wooden floor of the Regency Ballroom into a trampoline. Stage dives, crowd surfing, and huge singalongs accompanied the almost healing powers of the band's biggest song. The blind could see, the paralyzed could walk, and Sum 41 received the final rose, just barely escaping eviction from the house.
Favorite Deryck Whibley rambling of the night: "Who is louder, this side?! . . .or this side?! . . . this side !? . . . or this side!?. . . hmm, alright fuck it, you're all loud motherfuckers."