“Goddamn, this is fun tonight!”
Deryck Whibley’s joyful shout out to the audience captured the entire vibe of The Van Buren on Sunday for the 15-year anniversary tour of Sum 41’s Does This Look Infected?.
The band reunited with their original lineup for an explosive celebration of the classic record.
Kicking off the night was California quartet Super Whatevr. Relative newcomers to the scene, Super Whatevr channelled the raw (and sometimes dark) emotion of their songs into a powerful and steady opening set. Having only seen them play small venues in the past, watching them command The Van Buren’s large stage was quite a treat.
In the signature pop punk uniform of button downs, cuffed jeans and scuffed sneakers, Canadian band Seaway took the direct support slot. This energetic group usually falls in with bands like Neck Deep and Knuckle Puck, but ended up being a fantastic addition to this lineup. A good portion of the crowd showed up sporting Seaway merch and the scattering of fans brought the party when the band took the stage.
Singer Ryan Locke rocked his shades throughout the set, managing to look too cool (in a surprisingly good way). They slammed their way through 30 minutes of good vibes, getting the fans to sing along to favorites like “Slam” and “Lula on the Beach.”
After a serious health scare in 2014 that nearly killed Whibley, seeing Sum 41 triumphantly take the stage in Phoenix was enough to garner a strong emotional reaction from the packed venue. In lieu of playing Does This Look Infected? in order, the band took their longtime fans on a journey through the album, and mixed in epic drum solos and even a frenetic cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
The entire band kept the set incredibly tight, hardly ever letting the crowd catch their breath. Confetti launched on the opening note and the enthusiastic crowd surfers kept security busy all night.
Whibley took several moments to thank the fans profusely for supporting them through their highs and lows, adding that it was “surreal” to be back onstage after so much uncertainty.
He also said that they’d forgotten it was the 15-year anniversary of their hit album until an outpouring on social media convinced the band to dust off some old tunes.
“We didn’t know that anyone was going to care about this record back then,” he chuckled during a lull in the set.
It’s pretty clear that fans have not forgotten this album and they weren’t going to let the band forget either. The screaming and singing along only intensified during moments like “All Messed Up,” “Still Waiting” and the dependable encore performance of “Fat Lip.”
It’s still so incredibly cool to watch a band like Sum 41 play stages like The Van Buren. In many ways, Sum 41’s semi-political and perpetually self-loathing lyrics hold up even better in today’s society and it’s clear that the die-hard fans will always agree.
This show was a blast and judging from the masses of sweaty, happy fans leaving the venue, Sum 41 will have a dedicated crowd for many years to come.