During their "Don't Call It a Sum Back Tour", Sum 41 is touring the US and Canada with Senses Fail and As It Is. The tour wraps up tonight in Los Angeles, and I can say the show in San Diego last night was absolutely killer, with hardly any filler (sorry, had to). You can also check out our photos from the tour's stop in Vancouver, BC, last month.
As It Is
As It Is kicked off the show on an exciting note, bringing Jimmy from I Hate Heroes out to scream during their first song. Their 30 minute set was good, but the local engineer seemed disinterested and the guitars were noticeably too low in the mix for quite some time – finally corrected by a very noticeable fader mid-song move halfway through the set. The vocals were also very dry, and could have used a touch of reverb or delay. That being said, As It Is had excellent stage presence, and the performance itself was great, my only complaints lie with the House of Blues engineer who was mixing the band.
These veterans in the touring world stole the show in my opinion. They really brought energy to the crowd, had a good sense of humor, and to be quite honest their touring engineer provided the best mix of the night, even better than Sum 41's. Having been around the world many times, it isn't surprising that Sense Fail could bring such energy to the crowd to get them ready for Sum 41. Lead vocalist Buddy Nielsen encouraged the audience to sing along, which they did on many of the band's more popular songs, including set-closer "Bite To Break Skin".
15 minutes before the band was even scheduled to go on, the audience was chanting their name. The energy in the room was like a bomb waiting to go off. The set started with a medley of recordings, including the classic "O Fortuna", after which Sum 41 kicked into high gear with "The Hell Song", followed by "Over My Head" and "Fake My Own Death", the lead single off of their new album 13 Voices. Through the whole set, vocalist Deryck Whibley switched off between playing guitar and jumping around the stage while letting original guitarist Dave "Brownsound" Baksh play and having co-lead guitarist Tom Thacker come up front for guitar leads. Bassist Jascon McCaslin and drummer Frank Zummo fill out the rhythm section of the Sum 41 lineup.
A highlight of Sum 41's production was that unlike many bands these days, they didn't ignore spotlights and chose to light the downstage area well. Many bands these days opt for only backlighting which makes the musicians very difficult to see, and I am glad that Sum 41 didn't go down this route. They also carried their own sound and lights, which added to the show but I must say I was not impressed with the mix – some songs were great while others were not, it seemed the engineer was not adjusting the mix to fit different songs very well. The snare drum also sounded thin and hollow throughout the set, and the high-mids in the mix overall were standing out in an annoying way.
Aside from the mix issues, Sum 41 played a really amazing set. The band blew through both classics and new songs, though the audience seemed far more interested in the classics. Before you knew it, an hour and twenty minutes had gone by and the band was starting their encore. A surprise highlight during the set was when the band covered Queen's "We Will Rock You", but with their own special twist on it (skip to 6:35 in the video below). Overall, Sum 41 proved that even in 2016, they've still got it and they don't plan on quitting any time soon.
Sum 41's new album 13 Voices is available now through all major retailers.