The last time I saw PUP, it was in the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. This time around, I find myself sat on a picnic bench outside the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, waiting for them to play. It’s definitely a contrast, but not necessarily a bad one. The Brudenell Social Club – or simply the Brudenell, as it’s affectionately known – may seem like it’s just a social club, but it’s arguably one of the best music venues in the UK. It’s small enough to make gigs feel intimate, and has a relaxed and vibrant atmosphere; perfect for filling with the sounds of Toronto-based PUP’s brand of energetic and hooky punk rock.
As they take to the tiny stage of the Brudenell, PUP launch immediately into ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’, the opening track from their recently released sophomore record The Dream Is Over. The song’s lyrics detail the tensions within the band that occurred as a result of tough touring schedules and all too much time spent in close proximity to one another, prompting crowd-wide chanting of cutting lines like “I don’t wish you were dead, I wish you’d never been born at all”. This flows immediately into the second track from the album, ‘DVP’, followed by ‘Dark Days’ from their self-titled debut. It’s an incredibly strong trio of songs to begin a show with, setting a precedent for the rest of the night. The set is intense and brash, eliciting chanting and circle pits from the raucous crowd – especially during standout tracks ‘Doubts’ and ‘Reservoir’.
Something I’ve noticed about PUP shows is their tendency to attract hordes of stage divers. It’s by no means a bad thing, but on the previous two occasions I’ve seen them I’ve witnessed the band having to call out individuals for doing it repeatedly. On this occasion, some guy jumps up onto the stage and trips over various items of equipment, knocking the microphone into vocalist Stefan Babcock’s face before leaping back into the crowd. The next time he tries to get onto the stage – approximately two minutes later – PUP’s stage manager prevents him from doing so, and the band themselves tell him to stop when they’ve finished playing the song. The rest of the stage divers are, of course, welcomed by the band and the crowd.
Their set has no encore; instead, the band openly denounce the practice, branding it as lame. They close their set with ‘Old Wounds’, featuring Thom Weeks of Gnarwolves and Shit Present – the latter of which supported PUP on this tour – performing vocals instead of Stefan. This, preceded by ‘Reservoir’, ends the admittedly short set (PUP were only on stage for around 50 minutes) on a high.
It’s been PUP’s first full UK headline tour, after coming here on previous occasions supporting bands such as The Front Bottoms and Modern Baseball. If tonight was anything to go by, PUP will be returning time and time again.By Lucy McLaughlin