Everyone who was going to attend PUP's outdoor show at Echo Beach must have been pretty glad that the weather shaped up to be just perfect; especially since the night before was hot, humid, and storming.
Arriving at the faux beach venue, the crowd was quite sparse. Though I can understand some people not wanted to stand around for 3 hours before the mosh session during PUP that would ensue.
The show had three openers; Partner, Cayetana, and Twin Peaks; the first two being all female bands. During touring and promoting their third album "Morbid Stuff", PUP made the intention of having female bands to open for them for to promote female representation in the rock scene, which is admirable.
Starting off the night was Windsor (Ontario) based duo, Partner. They walked on stage and casually started their set. Their sound was stoner rock, especially confirmed when bassist Lucy Niles introduced a song as "a song about hash." Throughout their set, they came out of their shells and became more playful. Eventually the songs went from stoner rock to a bit more bluesy. Lead guitarist Josée Caron favoured a good guitar solo in every song and it was met with cheers nearly every time.
Next was Philadelphia trio Cayetana. They have been touring with PUP this year and this show was their last Canadian date, ever. They plan to disband later this year. Cayetana have a garage/indie rock feel. They had a moment to mention that "they know PUP so well that they know each member's farts." They turned back to PUP who was watching them from the back corner of the stage and laughing. Vocalist and lead guitarist Kelly Olsen has a distinctive voice that can growl and be raspy, but become soft as well. Overall they were tame, but not quiet. One of their biggest hits "Scott Get The Van, I'm Moving" was their most energetic song and where Kelly's vocals really took off.
Last of the openers was Twin Peaks, the first all male band opening up for PUP that night. They had five members consisting of two guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist, and a drummer. They have an alt-indie, surfer rock vibe. From all the bands, TP had more of a listening experience where there was more time for instrumentation than lyrics. Again, surprisingly tame genre choice before a "punk" gig, but I suppose you don't want all the audience's energy gone by the time the headliner comes on. There were some interesting visuals on the stage, such as a large stuffed lion by the keyboardist, a bottle of wine, and one of the speakers with the word "Tuna" hand painted on it. What these things mean together, we'll never know.
The sun was down but still lighting the sky before PUP was to come on, fans already wooing and cheering at any movement on stage. They even cheered "Let's Go Raptors." The beach floor of the venue was tightly filled 2/3 of the way and the other 1/3 was more spaced out. Guessing around 2k people were at the 5k capacity venue.
When the lights went out, the large screen behind them lit up with just the words "Welcome To The Pre-rehearsed Rock recital, brought to you by PUPTHEBAND." Their album cover for "Morbid Stuff" came on and PUP began with the album's title track. The audience immediately broke out of their restlessness and instantly started moshing, surfing, and head banging. The band looked totally overjoyed to be playing that night. They play a good mix of new and older songs - tour debuting "Back Against the Wall" from their 2013 debut, fan favourites from "The Dream is Over" and "Morbid Stuff" material.
After explaining that their song "Sleep In The Heat" was about his pet lizard, lead singer Stefan Babcock introduced that they were going to play "Plea From a Cat Named Virtue" by Canadian band The Weakerthans.
They jumped back to another good mix from their catalog. "Scorpion Hill" of "Morbid Stuff" is becoming a staple song for fans to create huge circle pits to mosh into once the song's tame intro is cut off and the song explodes into a fast tempo. At the end of the song, Stefan asked to open the front of the crowd for him to get into, then he sung whoa-oh's for the fans to join him and then crowd surfed out.
After playing "Full Blown Meltdown" which almost made Stefan look like a rapper when he screams/talks through the song, they took a moment to talk about important things and general thanks. Steve took over the talking, giving thanks to the other bands, the security, and of course the fans. He stated that the fans felt more special in Toronto because it's where they're from and if it wasn't for the Toronto scene, there wouldn't have been hype in the first place. He then stated that the band recognizes that they have a platform to bring important topics to masses so they had autographed instruments for sale and the money would go to Canadian Music Therapy. He encouraged the crowd to get involved with charities or politics. After he stated that, the crowd started chanting "Fuck Doug Ford!" in which Stefan replied, "First of all, this is correct. Second, uh, yeah, duh." For anyone outside Canada, Doug Ford is Ontario's conservative premier and he's been cutting a lot of funding to healthcare workers, education, and social services and a lot of Ontarian's aren't happy about that.
Stefan then transitioned into saying they have a special guest, Jeff Rosenstock. He mentioned how he's known him for 15 years and was an early supporter of the band. PUP played Jeff's song "Hey Allison!" with Jeff on vocals. Stefan brought out a giant swan pool floatie, dropped it on the crowd, and hopped onto it, though he struggled to stay on it.
Once back on stage and when Jeff's song was done, they said they had only two songs left. Fans of PUP know exactly which songs. "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will" and "DVP." For the first one, a huge circle pit was formed once again and everyone came running in at the "EHHHH!!!" climax of the song. Singing (yelling) so loud, but actually quite in unison. "DVP" came in without a space from the last song and that was it. On the screen behind PUP, it read "ENCORES ARE DUMB. Thank you for coming. Please go home now."
PUP could not stop looking so happy and speechless the whole night. They are becoming a gem in Canadian music and in rock music around the world. Toronto really gave back last night.