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A zero-Sum game
Sum 41 with Unwritten Law at Avalon, plus the Sweet Leaf Festival and more

The name of Saturday’s Sweet Leaf Festival ought to tell you a bit about the operative musical and pharmacological influences on this particular gathering of underground metallurgists, but be warned: this isn’t your deadbeat uncle’s stoner rock. The headliners, Texas transplants Today Is the Day, draw more Neurosis fans than Sabbath burnouts, and the rest of the line-up — including Cable, Dove, Ichabod, Ogre, Bury the Needle, and Septic Youth Command — leans toward the vicious, surgical end of the hardcore/metal spectrum. The all-day affair goes down at Evos Arts (978-441-9906) in Lowell.

Best Music Poll nominees Lost City Angels are back on tour with old pals Social Distortion, Tuesday at Toad’s Place (203-624-TOAD) in New Haven, Wednesday at Lupo’s at the Strand (401-331-LUPO) in Providence, and next Friday at Hampton Beach Casino (603-929-4100) in New Hampshire. Good Charlotte and Simple Plan are also back mopping up in secondary markets: Tuesday at Cumberland County Civic Center (207-775-3458) in Portland, Wednesday at Dunkin’ Donuts Arena (401-331-6700) in Providence, and next Thursday at Six Flags New England (413-786-9300) in Springfield.

While Green Day win Grammys, Good Charlotte pack arenas, and Blink-182 soothe their break-up blues with reality-show paper, Sum 41 have remained pop punk’s odd kids out: what’s a Canadian skater boy gotta do to get a hit these days? Deryck Whibley has generated plenty of tabloid ink from dating Paris Hilton and Avril Lavigne, and 2004’s Chuck found Sum moving from sneering bubblegum to speed metal, just before half of the Warped Tour followed suit. Current tour mates Unwritten Law, meanwhile, turned to Linda Perry to put a little more hookery in their SoCal punk, but "Save Me" was unlucky enough to arrive at radio just as the new-wave revival went supernova (and as modern-rock stations decided to program iPod play lists instead of hits), so it’s sunk quicker than the Mooney Suzuki’s collaboration with the Matrix. Sum 41 and Unwritten Law are at Avalon (617-262-2424) in Boston next Thursday (May 19) and at Lupo’s on May 25.

Tokyo’s Balloons play jangly, tremulant art pop the way Karate used to; they perform Friday at the Space (207-828-5600) in Portland and Sunday at O’Brien’s (617-782-6245) in Allston. And our Portland Phoenix colleagues throw their Best Music Poll party at the Space on Saturday, with Phantom Buffalo and more.

Issue Date: May 13 - 19, 2005
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