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Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

The streetwise youths gone wild of Sum 41 hit the stage full force at this year's Not So Silent Night concert.

Hell-Bent Before the Holiday's

Sum 41 and System of a Down turned up the amps at LIVE-105's Not So Silent Night

By Sarah Quelland

Even with banks of doors open at two points of entry, the seemingly infinite streams of people waiting to get into the Compaq Center for LIVE-105's sold-out Not So Silent Night concert (Dec. 7) were so long that the end of one line met itself at the beginning as it wound two- and three-people deep around the entire arena. Needless to say, a lot of fans turned out to catch some of the brightest stars on LIVE-105's playlist, including Linkin Park, System of a Down, P.O.D., Sum 41, Puddle of Mudd, Alien Ant Farm and A.F.I.

Still, seven bands struggling unsuccessfully to keep the night's tight schedule on track left little room for the unexpected, and most groups delivered short, straightforward performances. The two most spontaneous bands of the night couldn't have been more opposite in nature, but the streetwise youths gone wild in Sum 41 and the politically minded frantic metal maniacs in System of a Down stole the show.

Sum 41 was cranked up to 11 as soon as it hit the stage. Led by vocalist and guitarist Deryck Whibley (a.k.a. Bizzy D), a cutie with bedhead who always looks like he just woke up, Sum 41 delivers a new breed of fun-loving rock & roll with punk elements better compared to Green Day than to Blink-182; skate-rock influences; and definite nods to the Beastie Boys. On Friday, the hyperactive band was loud, obnoxious and totally irresistible.

Sum 41 has become one of the most popular bands of the year with the ADD youth of America on the merits of its latest album, All Killer, No Filler, and hits like the rebellious teenage anthem to independence, "Fat Lip" ("I don't want to waste my time, become another casualty of society / I'll never fall in line, become another victim of your conformity and back down").

Still, it's Sum 41's unflinching admiration for the hair bands of yesteryear that makes it special. On "Fat Lip," the band proudly proclaims, "Heavy metal and mullets, it's how we were raised / Maiden and Priest were the gods that we praised," and live, the band repeatedly busted out Slayer riffs and struck old-school rock & roll poses, including the triple-axe attack.

It seems these guys would just as soon play a set of Slayer covers as their own material (incidentally, they were reportedly spotted at the Usual the night before drinking in the sounds of the all-female AC/DC tribute band Hell's Belles).

Before Sum 41's exuberant set was over, the crowd was given a glimpse at a former arena-rock tradition when the drummer indulged in a solo complete with flaming drumsticks. These guys may be punks newest pranksters, but their hearts are pure hairmetal.

System of a Down, on the other hand, takes an entirely different approach, with a mature, if radical, metal style that's part performance art, part political statement and part pure fury. On Friday, System's electrifying set was total controlled chaos, and all four band members were positively bursting with psychotic energy.

System's main distinguishing character is wild-eyed frontman Serj Tankian's quavering vocals, which switch abruptly from operatic melodies to barking screams. His crazed delivery is unmistakable on record, but it's during live shows that the group's madness intensifies. While the guitarist Daron Malakian and bassist Shavo Odadjian tormented each other onstage, drummer John Dolmayan angrily shoved his drums around in the background. By the end of the night, his drumset was reduced to a haphazard jumble of parts.

The group's sophomore album, Toxicity, has gone platinum on the basis of the erratic title track and the undeniably catchy "Chop Suey!" both of which the band performed Friday. Even more hypnotic was "Aerials."

The large audience was incredibly responsive throughout the night--hell-bent on exhausting every ounce of pent-up energy and aggression before the impending holidays arrive. There seemed to be at least six pits going on the floor at any given time. And although P.O.D.'s frontman Sonny Sandoval was nursing a wicked cold and the boys in Linkin Park were plagued by technical difficulties, overall, the night was a huge success.

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From the December 13-19, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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