An extended middle finger on the right hand, and four fingers up on the left. It’s the Sum 41 salute, as the band proclaimed with its 15-foot skull banner towering on stage. After hearing Sum 41 Friday at the 9:30 club, the audience should opt to flip the bird with both hands.
Oh, imagine the horror. A sold-out club filled with young, hormone-obsessed pre-teens shrieking together at the top of their lungs.
The crowd was sprinkled with the occasional college kid looking over his shoulder making sure not to be recognized. This is Sum 41 in all their glory. The band played energetic, although wholly generic, punk songs for an overly excited audience.
Hailing from across the Canadian border, Sum 41 plays a kind of metal-obsessed pop-punk that has quickly gained them attention in American venues, vaulting the band’s popularity on American radio and MTV. Hailed as the next Blink-182, the group has held down prime real estate on MTV’s “Total Request Live” for the past several months. It should be no surprise therefore that the band’s major constituency at the 9:30 Club consisted of pubescent teenage girls seeming more obsessed with the band itself than the music they were playing.
Veteran punk act Unwritten Law opened for Sum 41, an ironic mismatch that seemed lost on the young crowd. This is comparable to Ray Charles opening for the Backstreet Boys. Despite the sickening sight of seeing the band billed second, Unwritten Law’s performance was the obvious highlight of the night. Delivering a straight set of punk anthems, the band managed to lend some authenticity to the night.
Depraved antics are one thing, but in front of kids some things are just gross. Halfway through the set, the band begged for two girls to make out on stage. The respondents were two embarrassingly young females, both of whom proceeded proudly to get down and dirty in front of the band.
But at least it didn’t last too long. After a short hour-long set, members of the band proclaimed that they had played all the songs they knew. They apologized to the crowd, promising to come back some day when they were “a real band.” That time has not come.
Fabolous, Lina and Nappy Roots
“Ya damn right!” That’s what the look said, the one from the guys in Nappy Roots when we made the connection. The guys rapping on the TV in front of us were the same guys sitting right behind us eating. A chance encounter at a pizza joint? No, this was much cooler than that.
On Friday afternoon a number of rappers congregated for a taping of a campus television show “Five Minutes of Fame” at Jasmine’s, a small pizzeria on Georgia Avenue, right on the edge of Howard University. The Nappy Roots was only one of the groups in attendance.
R&B rapper Lina, DJ Clue and the increasingly popular rapper Fabolous also made appearances on the popular Howard University television show.
Within the chill atmosphere of a local hangout artists performed on a small foot-high stage for a crowd of about 50 inside and countless fans pressed up against the store’s window. Artists gave performances brimming to the top with energy. Lina sang her hit “It’s Alright” in a slow, melodic voice. Her sound was soulful and moving and brought an eruption of applause from the crowd.
The excitement of the ultra-small room feel was brought to a head when Fabolous, whose new record Ghetto Fabolous debuted in the top five on the Billboard charts, took the stage to answer questions.
The diverse national talent was brought to the small venue in conjunction with Howard University’s Fall Festival. The contrast between the artists on stage, in front of hundreds at the festival and on stage at the pizzeria was dramatic.
Excitement filled the air in the small room as audience and artists shared the same space. After their performances in the pizzeria, artists mixed with fans comfortably. It wasn’t your typical late-lunch downtown, but definitely an amazingly good time.