Sum 41 + Billy Talent, UNSW Roundhouse – 26/02/2013

Even though this Sidewave was an all-ages gig, the crowd was split into two categories – teenagers who were totally stoked to be going out on a Tuesday night and the original fans of the bands, who are obviously a fair bit older.

Billy Talent hit the stage and within seconds the mosh pit looked like a deadly riptide – every beat, every note, every lyric were appreciated by the eager crowd. These guys could have come on stage playing bassoons and singing in Cantonese and their devoted audience would have lapped it up. When Down on Your Knees and This Suffering were played, the crowd went mental. Ben Kowalewicz announced that they’d be playing some songs from their new record, and as they played them it was obvious that most people in the crowd still knew every word and when to jump. It was simply amazing to see such an energetic response from such a diverse crowd.

After Rusted in the Rain (a slower number), Ben stopped and asked if there was a Celeste and Matthew in the crowd. Who were these people? Why were they on stage? Turns out Celeste (a huge fan of Billy Talent) was Matthew’s girlfriend and she proposed to him on stage…and he accepted! Crazy! A very cool thing for the band to do. They wrapped up with Red Flag and thanked the crowd for believing in rock and roll.

Before Sum 41 took the stage, the music over the PA dominated, and it was excellent – AC/DC, Rage Against the Machine, The Ramones and Guns n Roses – though, in contrast to Sum 41’s sound, it perhaps was not the most appropriate choice. Deryck Whibley came on stage to rapturous applause, followed by the only other remaining original member, Steve Jocz, and the rest of the band. It looked like Whibley’s wardrobe was borrowed from his ex-wife, clad in a tie and vest “spontaneously” covered in buttons and badges. Motivation was the opening song and the huge hit was instantly recognizable after featuring on many a teen movie soundtrack.

The band called up a few lucky crowd members to join them on stage, which was very cool, despite not being allowed to venture too far from the side of stage. Before playing We’re All to Blame, Deryck thanked the crowd for supporting heavy metal music. Hold up – since when were Sum 41 metal? They then launched into In Too Deep, displaying the band’s knack for catchy as hell pop punk, with lyrics so simple they just stick (kind of like the ABCs). There were so many sweaty patrons in the pit that the place had an odour of a very expensive cheese and by the time they played Walking Disaster, over half of the male patrons in the mosh pit were shirtless and seemingly very angry about something, going so far as to start fights.

When the gig was over, all that could be heard was the buzz of the crowd raving about how much fun the gig was and how they wished it were longer. So the fans were left satisfied but still wanting a little more, and that’s a sign of a job well done.

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