Every once in awhile, a band comes along--often times with music and elements that bring us back to a simpler time. Right now, that band is Pup, fronted by Stefan Babcock, and with Nestor Chumak, Zack Mykula, and Steve Sladkowski on bass, drums, and guitar, respectively. Founded in Canada in 2010, the band has gotten more attention in the last year than perhaps they bargained for, but all that means is people are receiving their message and accepting the journey.
Up until recently, I had only heard the name and a few songs, but I hadn't yet gone head-long into their discography. But as it happens, seeing an incredible show like I did last night will change that pretty quickly. Pup, touring in support of their recent break-out record Morbid Stuff, opened the set with the roar and thunderous anthem-like elements of "Free At Last." This type of music strikes a cord with youngsters who grew up with the pop-punk phenomenon, but in time move on only to find some new connection to a scene mostly faded in the mainstream.
That's where Pup comes in. It's high-energy and celebratory and open about adulthood and one's upbringing. It reminds me of Japandroids, in that sense. The intensity coming from the stage only propelled the crowd, which, early on, began a mosh pit with crowd surfing, which is a sight to see in the crammed realms of One Eyed Jacks. I later found out that the show didn't sell out, but you honestly couldn't tell. Multiple times, I was pushed and lost balance, but that also didn't matter much. I would have preferred not to fall, but you can't bank on that at this kind of show. It was just super high-energy, with tons of sing-along moments. The band did struggle early on with mic issues, but it never seem to deter them. They took it in stride and it made the evening better for having happened.
Many of the other songs played seemed to inspire a kind of jubilant disobedience that only this kind of band can conjure. The title track to the new album was amazing, while "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will," reached out and grabbed the audience so fiercely that you could barely hear the vocals, but those moments are the ones that stay with you the most. Thinking about it as I write this even gets me excited about seeing them again one day.
All in all, an amazing evening with tons of people singing along and dancing joyfully is worth the rain and the late night. It's a reminder that screaming and jamming out to a powerful band is one of the best remedies that you can find for whatever gets you down in life. This is easily one of the early contenders for show of the year, and I hope everyone jumps on this train, because it's genuinely inspiring and this band is going places.
Photos by Steve Hatley