Up first at Pop's in Sauget, Ill., Hunter Valentine, an all-girl group from Ontario, took its cues from the leather-clad groups before them, letting pick-slides and quick syncopated drum breakdowns dominate the set. The start-and-stop hair metal kicked off the night at Pop's fittingly, including getting the crowdsurfing going immediately. Kiyomi McCloskey's indelible simultaneous snarling and singing impressed.
Iamdynamite was accompanied to the stage by Willie Wonka's ingenious poetry. Via audio clip, Gene Wilder uttered the immaculate "And they're certainly not showing, any signs of slowing" to cue the duo. Immediately following, the pair broke into excellent single "Where Will We Go." The song, a blast of energy, rather honestly exemplifies the band's sound -- I highly recommend popping a Dramamine and checking out the video.
The next song lifted the "ooh's" from "Maneater" and exposed a possible debt to Hall & Oates. Not ones to take themselves too seriously -- the band name's a Nietzsche nod -- the guys broke into a light-jazz interlude. Responding in kind, the crowd put a teen in pajamas up to crowdsurf along. Celebrating his birthday in a Vintage Vinyl t-shirt, Chris Philips, the drummer, even got an impromptu "Happy Birthday" out of the crowd.
Arriving to intense anticipation, Sum 41 instantly had the entirety of Pop's jumping to "The Hell Song." Deryck Whibley, who couldn't wipe the smile off his face all night, actually handpicked about a half dozen or so fans -- step right up whoever wore their Sum 41 t-shirt to the show -- to watch from onstage. It must have been an incredible experience to stand just a few feet from Steveo32's drum kit, but none of the fortunate fans had the nerve to stage dive. Luckily, Mr. Phillips, clearly not close to being done celebrating his birthday, got up and crowd-surfed back to the stage.
The set consisted of Whibley's prowess at the front of the stage, a given once one looks at the band's touring habits. Regularly performing over 300 nights a year for some 17 years helps in the expertise department. Flanked by his co-founder Steve Jocz and longtime bandmate "Cone" McCauslin, Whibley kept the mass of fans bouncing, screaming and moshing. The crowd -- generally looking like extras from the "Fat Lip" video, just older and more regularly showered -- couldn't get enough. Daring the pit to push it further, Deryck stated, "Motherfuckers love the fast shit, then let's stay with the fast shit!"
It was clear that all of the bands on the bill love touring with each other. Hunter Valentine returned to the stage to help close out Iamdynamite's set before Chris Phillips made his third appearance as drummer for Sum 41. After tearing through "We Will Rock You" and the first verse of "Sabotage" for the encore, "Fat Lip" got everyone bouncing one last time.
Sum 41 set list:
The Hell Song
We're All to Blame
In too Deep
Sick of Everyone
We Will Rock You (Queen)
Sabotage (Beastie Boys)
Pain for Pleasure