JACKSONVILLE, Florida � The Marquee Theatre holds about 1,000 people, and you could tell it was packed for Sunday night's Sum41 show when club personnel produced a garden hose to cool the sweltering throng. The young band's hour-long set nearly exhausted their entire song catalog, with the audience's demands for a post-"Fat Lip" encore pushing them to close their set with "Pain for Pleasure," the half-joking metal anthem tacked onto the end of their rambunctious pop/punk record All Killer No Filler.
The songs came rapid-fire style. Driven by the furious drumming of Steve Jocz, many were even faster than the over-before-you-know-it studio recordings on All Killer, most of which don't even crack three minutes. Jocz hung little skulls from his cymbals and, whenever he could, jumped in front of his kit to hop on the mic. He also delivered a confident, strobe-drenched drum solo in the middle of "All She's Got."
Confidence really wasn't a problem for any of Jocz's bandmates either. In fact, one day after their performance on "Saturday Night Live," the members of Sum41 were swaggering like pirates. Although he appreciated the two-fingered devil horns, frontman Deryck Whibley took it upon himself to teach the crowd the Sum41 salute: Raise four fingers on your right hand and one (carefully selected) finger on your left hand. In case anyone had trouble figuring it out, a giant blacklit skeleton behind the stage demonstrated the gesture.
Whibley sang most of the leads, somehow managing to snarl like a pre-irony Billy Idol and still incite Timberlake-quality shrieks of delight from the punk rock girls down front. Whibley had this little affectation when he sang, which entailed him pulling the mic stand up high, then pointing the mic itself down so he was actually shouting up into it. The girls seemed to like that, too.
About midway through the set, the band challenged the audience to stump guitarist Dave Baksh by shouting out a metal band and daring him to play a lead riff from said band on the spot. Baksh passed the test easily, sending forth impromptu riffs from Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Slayer and Metallica like he was just playing scales.
Sum41 repeatedly announced its affection for the festive, crowd-surfing, clothes-throwing Jacksonville fans. Maybe Whibley was just getting mushy after swilling from a tequila bottle onstage, but toward the end of the show he also took pains to praise the security guards for keeping the huge crowd orderly while still allowing fans to have fun.
Fun is the key with Sum41. They don't wallow in self-loathing, and they don't want to feel your pain. They just want to screw around and be allowed to make their own mistakes, which is basically the message of their hit single "Fat Lip," a playful anti-authority song that invokes the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)" in both subject and form. Predictably, the Jacksonville crowd commenced uncontrollable bouncing when "Fat Lip" rolled around near the end of the show. Sum41 may not have a lot of songs to choose from just yet, but they have at least one guaranteed to heat up the party � even when they're competing with a garden hose.
For an interview with the band, check out "7 Questions With Sum41."