I've slowly been writing this prologue in the form of scribbled notes, setlists, ticket stubs, magazine clippings, and my photographic memory - like in August 2001, I remember swaying in a hammock at Disney World, listening to All Killer No Filler on my portable CD player and flipping through my copy of the September 2001 YM Magazine that I begged my mom to buy for me because it had an article about Sum 41 inside. Then there's the memory of the first time I saw them in concert on February 16th, 2003 with my dad and my best friend Sarah at The Agora in Cleveland. I vividly remember as we drove around the bend on i-77 towards the city skyline, Pete Townshend invaded my ears as he cried out, "It's only teenage wasteland," over the radio. It was one of those "It's all happening" moments that set the pace for an evening that included my very first mosh pit experience. Then there was the very cold November evening in 2012 when a complete stranger let me borrow her hoodie as we waited behind the House of Blues Cleveland waiting to meet the band after their show, commemorating 10 years of the album Does This Look Infected?. I'm happy to share that I did, in fact meet them, and I crept on Instagram to find the stranger who shared her hoodie. Her name is Naomi and we're still friends to this day! We actually ended up going to see them together in May 2017 at Stage AE in Pittsburgh. Finally, there was the October 2019 show at the Roxian in McKees Rocks (Pittsburgh), which I flew solo on that adventure and ended up waiting to meet the band after the show.
As I said, I've slowly been writing this over the last 21 years and it's a proud moment for me because this is something that 14-year-old Mollie was dreaming about. So this is dedicated to her, who planned on moving to Toronto and being in a rock band that toured with Sum 41 (or study photography if that didn't work out). I'd like to believe that she would think 33-year-old me is pretty dang cool because for the first time, I believe I am.
Photographed by Mollie Crowe at House of Blues Cleveland, May 11th 2022
I remember being in 8th grade, dancing around the gymnasium to a bootleg version of "Still Waiting" at a school dance while everyone else stood around confused. I remember freaking out when "The Hell Song" was the number one video on TRL. I recorded their episode of MTV Diary, learned their songs on bass and guitar, and spent hours with my best friend Sarah daydreaming about what our lives could be like if we became best friends with Sum 41. "Pieces" became a song that carried me through my battle with depression in high school, and "Fat Lip" will always remind me not to take myself too seriously.
I was so tired by the time they took the stage this past Wednesday, but as soon as "Introduction to Destruction" started playing, I found myself full of adrenaline because everything I've been working towards for the last 21 years was unfolding before my eyes. Honored to have captured 21 years of All Killer No Filler, 20 years of Does This Look Infected?, and a lifetime of loving 4 dudes from Ajax like they're my brothers.