By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Senior Correspondent
Venue: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Tampa, Florida–May 25th, 2022
Bands/Websites or Facebook/Social Links:
So I set off for the Hard Rock, which in Tampa is almost an entire city to itself! I’ve shot bands there before, but only on the small stage in the Cafe, never the Event Center. It’s an entirely different experience! The Cafe stage is not small, especially compared to local nightclubs, but it’s still only half the size of the Center. The Cafe has a wooden dance floor and a small auditorium-like seating area, but most of it is restaurant tables. There’s no pit in front of the stage, and no dedicated security.
There was for this event, like six dedicated guards in front of the stage, one of them being an experienced UFC fighter! A good-sized pit, a floor section with standing only, and auditorium seats in three sections – no bad seats! There was also security to get in.
But get in I did, and then I got to wait for an hour-plus, but better than missing the first band. Which was Set It Off, possibly the most colorful band in the world. Formed in 2008 right here in Tampa, Fl, with Cody Carson (vocals), Zach DeWall, (guitar, bass, backing vocals), and Matt Danziger joining in 2010 (drums), and a fourth player that remains unidentified – he wore a rabbit mask the entire set!
Cody started the band when he returned from school in Ohio. Until 2010, the band went through a few drummers, but bassist Zach DeWall was there at the start. Unfortunately, they lost their lead guitar player in 2019. Zach seems to have taken over lead guitar, but apparently the bass player on tour is not yet official! I have to say, one thing that appliies to all the bands, but especially to Set It Off, is a sense of joy that emanated from the bands all night. They were excited to be here!
The band initially gained a large following through vocalist Cody Carson’s YouTube channel. During Set It Off‘s early years the band fit into the pop-punk genre exclusively. Their debut album Cinematics (2012) featured orchestral elements, whereas its follow-up Duality (2014) was influenced by 1990s/2000s pop music. The band continued to progress in this direction with a third studio album Upside Down (2016) which featured some of the band’s poppiest output yet, They then took a more emotional dark alt rock turn with their fourth studio album Midnight (2019), but have returned to the more pop punk scene with their fifth studio album Elsewhere (2022).
The majority of the orchestral string sounds are programmed and sequenced synthesizers added during production rather than traditionally recorded acoustic instruments. In 2015, Kerrang! magazine summarized the band’s genre as pop rock.
The Hard Rock takes a dim view of crowdsurfing, but the next band had a Simple Plan!
Simple Plan are co-headliners with Sum 41 for the “Blame Canada” Tour. Now, this is something you don’t hear very often about a band that started in 1999: Four original members are still with the band! Since its inception in Montreal, Pierre Bouvier has handled lead vocals and bass, Chuck Comeau has battered the beats, Jeff Stinco has lead with his guitar, and Sebastian Lefebvre has backed the vocals and the rhythm guitar.
The band has released six studio albums: No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls (2002), Still Not Getting Any… (2004), Simple Plan (2008), Get Your Heart On! (2011), Taking One for the Team (2016), and Harder Than It Looks (2022). The band has also released an EP titled Get Your Heart On – The Second Coming! (2013), in addition to two live albums: Live in Japan 2002 (2003) and MTV Hard Rock Live (2005). Awards? Yes, they have awards! 2002 Won CASBY Award, 2012 Won Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, 2006 Won Juno Fan Choice Award, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 Won MuchMusic Video Award, 2012 Won NRJ Music Award, 2005 Won Teen Choice Award, 2006 Won Artiste québécois s’étant le plus illustré hors Québec and Album de l’année – Anglophone
The members of Simple Plan created the Simple Plan Foundation, which focuses on teen problems ranging from suicide to poverty to drug addiction. The book Simple Plan: The Official Story was used as a fundraiser for the Foundation in 2012.
One thing before I sum it all up with Sum 41: What’s with all the tongue?
Sum 41 consists of five members including Deryck Whibley, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Dave Brownsound, co-lead guitarist/backing vocalist Tom Thacker, bassist/backing vocalist Cone McCaslin and drummer Frank Zummo. I’m going to borrow a tale from their website: “In the late summer of 2018, Sum 41 frontman, Deryck Whibley, stepped off the tour bus after three solid years of worldwide touring, turned on the console in his home studio, picked up a guitar, and started pouring out song after song. Feeling incredibly inspired from 2016’s critically-acclaimed Europe Impala Gold certified, #9 Billboard Top Albums charting, 13 Voices album and touring cycle, Whibley feverishly started putting together songs from the cascade of ideas flying throughout his mind. Relentless touring and immense energy from some of the largest crowds the band had ever played in front of bred a multitude of ideas that Whibley had stockpiled and couldn’t wait to record. Within three weeks, the majority of the music for the new album, Order In Decline was written. With much of the music written, Whibley focused his attention on the lyrics. “I’ve always just let words come out and whatever they are, they are,” Whibley remarks, “I usually just follow and let them flow.” Unconsciously, Whibley realized that there was a persistent theme in his stream of consciousness that ultimately became a critical response to the world and society at large. Traveling the world and observing how pervasive division, racism, and hate had become, punctuated by the repulsive social and political turmoil invading his own home nations of the United States and Canada, Whibley found himself writing about a great many things he didn’t necessarily want to write about. “The last thing I wanted to do was write a social or political protest record, and Order In Decline is not that,” Whibley clarifies. Instead, Order In Decline is a burst of uninhibited feeling, a page out of his journal, a window into his soul that reflects on extremely personal and vulnerable events, because as he confesses, “It’s also very hard not to have feelings about everything that’s going on in the world.”
Damn straight! After over 15 million records sold worldwide, a Grammy Award nomination, 2 Juno Awards (7 nominations), a Kerrang! Award in 2002, as well as multiple Alternative Press Music Awards, Sum 41 is quite simply a rock band – uncompromising and honest with no intention of slowing down. The energy of the band was reflected back by the audience, who sang along, clapped, screamed, and generally fell over themselves in their enthusiasm. Not surprisingly, it was a sold-out show!
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- OCC Torn, Serves Up Voodoo Moonshine! - August 28, 2022
- Hard Rock has Simple Plan to reach Sum 41, they Set It Off! - May 28, 2022