Photographs by Katrina Wong Shue.
Clusters of people were sprawled out in front of The Phoenix Concert Centre like the aftermath of a house party. Inside, two of the biggest bands of the early 2000s practically overflowed the main room of the Phoenix with the crowd packed in as tight as a lifelong bond. With the pop punk band As It Is from Brighton, England holding the opening slot, this generation’s legendary punk bands Senses Fail and Sum 41 return to Toronto for Sum 41’s Don’t Call it a Sum-Back Tour. The twenty-year strong Phoenix Concert Centre served the most perfectly grungy and intimate setting while providing a large enough size to accommodate the band’s huge following.
After winding round the venue’s corridors and getting situated in the overwhelmingly packed crowd, the peppy Buddy Nielsen and co. of Senses Fail were up on stage putting on an unforgettable show for the masses. Playing classics such as Calling All Cars and Can’t Be Saved off of their 2006 album Still Searching, and Rum is for Drinking, Not Burning and Bite to Break Skin off of their debut Let it Enfold You along with The Importance of the Moment of Death and The Courage of an Open Heart from their most recent album Pull the Thorns from Your Heart among a plethora of others, the New Jersey band really had the crowd going.
Buddy’s mic handling skills and lively energy were unlike anything I had ever seen before. The man was tossing the microphone around so nonchalantly with such finesse it was almost mesmerizing and had even started doing one-handed push-ups during a gnarly guitar solo! Senses Fail really played it up for the Toronto crowd with some very Canadian banter, touching base on the Blue Jays’ game 3 win, favoring Toronto over Montreal but The Rangers over The Leafs and even mentioning Manitoban WWE Superstar Chris Jericho. All in all, seeing Senses Fail was the added touch to brining back punk’s recent past into the present.
And the it was time for Toronto to bask in the sweet, sweet chaos that is Sum 41. After walking on stage with a commanding presence, the boys of Sum 41 opened up with Does this Look infected opening tracks The Hell Song and Over My Head before welcoming the chaotic ally amped crowd to their tour with the cleverly vulgar 41 salute. The band then went into new tracks Fake My Own Death and Goddamn I’m Dead Again off the album that brought them out of hiding, 13 Voices. For Goddamn I’m Dead Again, returning guitarist Dave “Brown sound” Bakash and Tom Thacker treated the audience to a face melting duel guitar solo atop of two podiums on either side of the stage. Lead singer Deryck Whibley also showcased his soloing skills and challenged a member in the crowd to top his chops in which an enthusiastic crowd goer absolutely shredded in his fifteen minutes of fame. Drummer Frank Zumo flexed his solo skills has he played a lengthy brain busting drum solo to a few of hip hips most classic tracks to give the rest of the band a brief breather.
The punks from Ajax played all the right tracks from their entire catalogue to keep the chaotic energy at a maximum and included a taste of Black Sabbath and Queen for good measure. The band kept it heavy with songs such as No Reason and All to Blame but also touched some heartstrings with War, Pieces and Walking Disaster. It was during those heartfelt songs that Deryck spoke about the personal attachment and back story of the melodic tracks. Through the course of Sum 41’s set, a steady flow of crowd surfers crashed towards the front of the stage among the sea of people. The night ended in a flurry of confetti as the boys closed the show with their iconic lose anthem Fat Lip. After almost 10 years away from the spotlight, the boys of Sum 41 looked and sounded like they haven’t aged a day since the days of All Killer No Filler and absolutely blew the minds of every single person in that room that night. Not only did the boys of Sum 41 tear the roof off of The Phoenix but they also left an unbearable ringing in my ears that can only serve as a reminder of the enjoyably chaotic evening.