Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Gig Review: PUP at The Dome 9/9/16 (by Emma Prew)

Every now and then there’s a band that everyone seems to be raving about in the world of punk rock and for a while now it has been Toronto’s PUP*. Partly to see what all the fuss was about and partly because he had seen them (and enjoyed them) as a support act before, Colin suggested that we go along to their London show. It was a Friday night gig and, at the time, our September gig calendar was pretty empty so I said ‘sure, why not?’. It was after that that I actually took the time to listen to PUP – mostly their latest album The Dream Is Over – and I did indeed enjoy it so was looking forward to seeing them live.

Opening up for PUP on their UK tour were one of my favourite UK punk acts of the last year, Shit Present. I’ve seen them several times recently (and several other times before that) but that doesn’t mean I was looking forward to seeing them again any less. Opening with Sick Of Me, a track off of their upcoming EP and one that was released to the world last month, it was a little odd seeing the band on such a large stage but they didn’t seem at all daunted. They played a good balance of songs from their first self-titled EP and the new release (out in November), all of which were well received – and deservedly so. I’ve just pre-ordered said new EP, Misery + Disaster, and look forward to seeing them play again soon.

Following on from Shit Present were fellow Canadians (to PUP, not Shit Present) Solids, from Montreal. I’d not listened to the band at all before so had no idea what to expect – always a bit risky when you know you’re planning on reviewing the gig afterwards! Thankfully I knew it’d be okay as soon as the three-piece, consisting of two guitarists and a drummer (no bass player), burst into their set with a loud and melodic sort of musical interlude. In fact, during this interlude I turned to Colin and we both did a little nod of approval. Solids play a very grungey brand of punk rock with mesmerising melodies. It’s certainly not my go-to style of music but it was enjoyable to watch live. As I looked around me, I found that The Dome was packed and everyone was getting into Solids – it was a great sight to see.

And so, the crowd was suitably pumped for the headlining act and we didn’t have long to wait before it was PUP’s turn to take to The Dome’s stage. The band came on stage to some hip-hop music which I have to say was a little bit weird – and I can’t say what exactly it was as I’m not a hip-hop fan – but all weirdness was cast aside when PUP surged into their set with If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You I Will, the opening track from The Dream Is Over. Then, just like on the album, they flawlessly flowed into DVP – it was great. I have to admit, I’m a little bit addicted to the song DVP which I think is mostly due to hearing it for the first time whilst watching the brilliant video game-themed video. This was also the first song of their set that had stage diving – Colin said to me beforehand that he thought the first stage dives would be in the first song, so obviously I bet that it would be second song or later. Unsurprisingly there were many more stage dives throughout PUP’s set and it was great to see so many people having such a good time – I don’t think I’ve been to a venue as large as The Dome for a while. Singer and guitarist Stefan stated that it was their largest ever headline show outside of North America and the fact that it was sold out as well really goes to show how many people love PUP, in London alone. There was never a dull moment during their set and I have to say that they really do excel performing live. They were joined on stage by Louis from Solids who took over singing duties on one song (I forget which, sorry) – he’s actually the drummer in Solids. But a highlight for me was during the ‘encore’ when PUP invited Thom of Shit Present (and Gnarwolves) on stage to sing the rather venomous vocals on Old Wounds, while Stefan got a chance to crowd-surf whilst playing his guitar. It was definitely worth sticking around for and a great end to the gig!

We went to see PUP to see if the ‘hype’ that has surrounded them was justifiable and, having now seen them live for myself, I think it probably is. They may not be my new favourite band but they put on an excellent show and have some great songs.

*Apparently ‘Pup’ has to be written in all caps at all time.