BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
Simple Plan and Sum 41 have been staples (maples? Fuck it…this is gonna be riddled with Canadian puns) in the emo and pop-punk scene for over 20 years. So when they rolled through Phoenix on a hot, sticky Tuesday night on August 3, 2022, at the Van Buren, they received all the love that one could expect from a sold-out crowd of die-hard, bleeding heart, “I’m just a kid” t-shirt wearing fanatics.
“This is my childhood,” said one fan at the front of the barricade. “And the best part is that I get to introduce my kids to this stuff. It’s pretty cool.”
The introduction began with my new best friends in the Florida outfit Magnolia Park. From the moment they stepped on the stage, they kept the energy raw and unfiltered (much like Canadian maple syrup is). This is the second time I’ve been able to see these guys since relocating to the Phoenix Metro, and it was an unusual change to see them with shirts on this time (but you know…the air conditioning was actually working this time, so that was a huge plus), but they came out and KILLED it like they always do. Vocalist Joshua Roberts told the audience, “Damn…last time we played here we didn’t have any AC, and now we got it, so y’all don’t have an excuse to not move around!”
And he got what he wished for.
The audience responded in kind to the show that they put together that night as they played several hits including “10 for 10,” “Liar” and “Feel Something.” They really got the crowd worked up when they launched into their cover of “Sugar, We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy, and while I’m typically not a fan of covers during shows (definitely NOT talking about Zac Brown Band here and their 10 covers in one set), they did this one so perfectly, and it was the best transition to keep the crowd moving. It’s rare to find a newer band who can come out and play with literal idols in the music industry and to get the audience to embrace them as one of their own. But Magnolia Park is working hard to be a mainstay for years to come, and they’ve got some pretty sweet gigs lined up down the road too (certainly not talking about the upcoming tour with their Florida neighbors in ADTR).
If you haven’t yet, check out their stuff – they’re a young, fun, energetic act that is a must-see in my opinion.
And my opinions are always right.
You can ask my fiancée.
Better yet…don’t do that. Just take my word for it (BIG LOL HERE).
After a change up on the stage that included the setup of 8 bloodied Marshall cabs, the audience was READY for Sum 41, and Sum 41 was equally ready for the Arizona fans.
“You’re in charge!” said vocalist Deryck Whibley with a menacing grin. “Let’s get CRAZY tonight!”
And just like the beavers in Canada work together to build amazing dams in the middle of streams, the audience worked together to create the special type of chaos that only comes from pop-punk shows. From mosh pits to crowd surfers, it was quite the spectacle as the symbiotic relationship began between the band and the fans.
“If someone falls down, you pick them back up! LET’S GGGOOOOOO!” Whibley finished before launching into their hit single “Motivation” followed by “Hell Song.”
And they put on such an incredible show – they were high energy from start to finish. One of the highlights for me was the guitar solo in “Hell Song” where everyone played together, and it made for quite the spectacle. This was the second time I’ve seen Sum 41 in the span of just a few weeks, and while there isn’t much to say in lieu of newness on the performance, I will say that if you can get your ass to one of these shows, you better do it, or I’ll personally hit you in the face with a bag of milk!
Other notable favorites for me included “Underclass Hero,” “Walking Disaster,” and of course, “Fat Lip.”
After their set, and some BANGERS from the likes of Panic! At The Disco and Yellowcard to fill the empty space with noise, Simple Plan graced the stage to headline the show.
Anyway, while Simple Plan certainly can’t claim to be kids anymore, it doesn’t mean that they can’t claim to put on one of the best shows in pop-punk culture. Right away the audience was mesmerized by the sound and the lights that a band of their caliber can afford to dazzle an audience with.
The really great thing about seeing Simple Plan though is that you can see how excited vocalist Pierre Bouvier is each and every time. “This is the best show of my life!” he told the star-struck Arizona crowd as they cheered him on with thunderous applause.
They opened with their energetic track “I’d Do Anything,” followed shortly thereafter by “Jump” where Pierre (who is also my personal best friend) instructed the audience to…well…jump! He gave himself a brief stretch out on stage, and then from there, I don’t think there was a single moment where he was even remotely stationary for the rest of the set.
Banger after banger was pelted through the sound system at the Van Buren, including a cover of “All Star” by Smashmouth. They ended on “Perfect,” which was a perfect way to end the show in all of their emo, pop-punk glory, as this track was my anthem in high school (and certainly didn’t bring back memories that I’ve worked hard with my therapist to suppress).
All-in-all, it was a fantastic show, and definitely worth seeing if you can get out to a city they’re visiting on this stretch of the tour. As always, thanks to the Van Buren for having such top-notch facilities, staff, and creating a space like this so that fans and lowly concert photographers like myself can have a place to call home for a few hours while we absorb these memories to carry us through the rest of the week.
Until next time, friends! Remember to stay hydrated, please dear God wear deodorant (I know it’s Phoenix, but like…come on), and remember to tip your bartenders!