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A concert can always be an awesome experience but there is something extra special about a concert on a warm summer evening near the beach.
The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey has been around since the ’70s and has an iconic history. It was the starting place of New Jersey legends including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, as well as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
Another thing that makes this venue so special is the Summer Stage. Since its inception in 2008, every summer a large stage is assembled in the parking lot behind the Stone Pony across from the boardwalk.
This stage sets a precedent and tells us that summer is just around the corner.
With live music finally coming back we were eager to see who was coming to town and boy were we in for a great season this year.
One show that I was highly looking forward to seeing was The Blame Canada Tour featuring Sum 41 and Simple Plan with support from Set It Off. It was due to hit the summer stage in early May. However, due to some circumstances beyond their control (Covid) they had to push this show to the second leg of their tour, in late August.
I was eagerly awaiting the August 26th show and soon Friday night was finally here. It was a big celebration for me because it was a few days after my birthday.
2022 also marked the 21st anniversary of the release of Sum 41’st 2001 album All Killer No Filler. For me it had also been 21 years since I had first seen the band back at the Warped Tour in Asbury Park. It has all come full circle.
As with most co-headlining shows, Sum41 and Simple Plan would swap back and forth on who plays the final set of the night. Friday night Sum41 was the band to go up last and I felt it was a great choice.
Normally shows at the Stone Summer Stage are subject to city curfews so they tend to start a little earlier. This is great if you want to be home at a reasonable time or you want to go out and enjoy the party still going on the Asbury boardwalk.
The bad thing about shows starting at 6 pm is the sun is stinging your eyes for the first two hours of the show. I made sure to bring my sunglasses but was pleasantly surprised there was some cloud cover that made the August heat bearable.
We got there at the tail end of Set It Off. I was quite into what I heard. The Tampa, Florida group had a sound that was part punk, part funk, and reminded me a bit of Fall Out Boy.
The concrete venue was so packed you could tell the show was sold out. There were people everywhere with lines criss-crossing the venue. We made our way to the entrance of the photo pit. I was so excited they created a little pen where you could enter the stage without having to push past the fans lined along the barrier.
At 7:25 I entered the photo pit to find a good place to stand and take photos. There were a lot of photogs in the pit but it wasn’t swarmed to the point where you had to double up with a stranger.
I got my camera ready with some practice shots and then before I knew it I was hearing the theme from Star Wars indicating the band was taking the stage.
It was 7:30 when Simple Plan took to the stage. I spent the first three songs furiously taking photos. I worked to get good shots of the band while also observing their performance.
The band didn’t waste any time and jumped right into fan favorites right out of the gate. They started with the popular “I’d Do Anything” off their 2002 debut album No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls. This song brought me back to high school. It was the song that I would most equate with the band. I remember this track also has a bridge sung by Mark Hoppus.
We were hoping we would maybe get a special appearance by the Blink 182 member but no such luck.
They kept the party going with their popping-punk infused angsty “Shut Up” and “Jump.” They played a hearty hour long set with songs from their albums spanning the last 20 years along with newer tracks “Iconic” and “Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare’s Over)” of their latest release, Harder Than It Looks.
Their set offered a rollercoaster of emotions. They showered the audience with a cascade of fast and slow numbers. Their set was a nice wavering of high and lows. Intense energetic-pop punk tracks like “The Worst Day,” “Addicted,” “The Worst Day Ever,” and “Boom one minute and next they slowed to the romantic beachy “Summer Paradise” complete with beach balls and the sorrowful crowd swaying “Crazy” and “Untitled.”
The track “Scooby Do Where Are You” and their musical montage covering Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” Avril Lavigne’s “Skater Boi,” and The Killers’ song “Mr Brightside” showed their range and playfulness. The crowd was loving every minute of it.
Watching lead siger Pierre Bouvier along with members Chuck Comeau (drums), Sebastien Lefebvre (lead guitar), and Jeff Stinco (rhythm guitar) bounce, jump, and move across the stage interacting with the audience you could feel the fun they were having. Their high-energy enthusiasm brought on a skin-tingling goose-bump performance that closed with the hand-swaying single “Perfect.”
Another highlight of their performance was when drummer Chuck Comeau said he wanted to join the crowd but the only way the venue would allow it is if he donned a yellow hazmat suit and gasmask. Once suited up he jumped into the pit and let the crowd surf him for the duration of their song “I’m Just a Kid.” It ended with him being hosed off by staff members and then a jump off the drumset in time with the end of the song
Simple Plan’s performance was a solid excitement and lucky for us the night was just beginning to unfold.
After about a half-hour set change I again made my way into the photo pit pen awaiting the security to let us into the photo pit. The crowd also eagerly awaited the final band of the night.
At about 9:20 or so the lights went up and the band took the stage to AC/DC’s “T.N.T” The audience’s delight could be heard in their hoots, hollers, and cheers. They opened with the hard-hitting song “Motivation” off their 2001 debut album All Killer No Filler. Then followed it up with the
Again I took photos while half listening to “The Hell Song” and didn’t realize “Over My Head (Better Off Dead)” was the last song before we got kicked out of the photo pit. (For anyone curious the rule of show photography is you get to take photos for the first three songs and then you have to leave the area).
I was kind of happy to be done with photos so I could focus on the songs and the rest of the show. I made my way back to a place on the side where the view was great and it was not really too crowded.
The fourth song to play was the metal-infused “We’re All to Blame” off Chuck their 2004 third studio album. I didnt really listen to that album a lot so I wasn’t familiar with that song but the crowd was loving the metal infusion.
When you think of Sum 41 many pop-punk songs come to mind like “Fat Lip,” “In Too Deep,” “Underclass Hero,” and “The Hell Song” but there is a lot of variety in their music. They have effortlessly straddled the genres of punk, metal, and pop-punk creating a sound that is something all their own.
This was evident in their show with the effortlessly crafted punk and metal songs “We’re All To Blame,” “A.N.I.C.,” “Never Wake Up,” and “T.H.T.”
Despite the 4,500 individuals in attendance at the sold-out show, it felt like an intimate family affair with the warmth and love that Derick Whibley and the rest of the band brought.
From the time they took the stage, Whibley oozed love and thankfulness for everyone who made the show. It was a really nice sentiment.
Also, as I was taking photos, I noticed how guitarist Dave Baksh kept seeing things the fans were saying and loving the inside jokes and smiling at the crowd.
During the show, Whibley mentioned how it was the 21st anniversary of their album All Killer No Filler and they were just gonna play old songs to the crowd’s delight. Their set list spanned their musical catalog dating back to the 2000s song, “Summer” off the album Half Hour of Power.
Music filled the open-air venue to create swells of emotions and excitement for fans. They rocked, moshed, and crowd surfed to their fast and slow-danced to the ballads “With Me,” and “Pieces.”
This was only surpassed by their enthusiasm in response to the mention of their upcoming double album, Heaven and Hell. Whibley said the Heaven side will be more in the vein of pop-punk and those who want to relish in metal can listen to the Hell side.
I forgot how much I loved Sum 41’s music. From the first track to the last they played (which was “Still Waiting”) this show was a powerful and tumultuous experience with fondness that left you wanting more. I am definitely looking forward to what’s to come on their new album.