Live in Vancouver (11/21/16)The Cobalt - Vancouver, BC
By Bobby Gorman
A sold out show at The Cobalt is a rare but beautiful thing. The venue is slowly becoming one of the go-to venues for punk and alternatives shows in Vancouver. As is the norm with punk shows, you still get the odd fairly empty showcase there – but when it’s packed, the excitement is palpable.
Amidst their three and a half month, 100 show world tour – Pup found themselves feeling that palpable energy as they started their Canadian leg of the tour last night in Vancouver.
The show was, of course, sold out. People were begging for spare tickets, trying to see the Toronto quartet touring in support of The Dream Is Over; and those lucky enough to squeeze into the packed house were not disappointed.
Fans were already there in full force by the time Chicago’s Meat Wave hit the stage and successfully warmed up the already enthusiastic crowd. The jangly, spastic sound from the SideOneDummy labelmates was raw and heavy, a nod to the Dirtnap style of punk mixed with the grunge revolution. Raspy screams and echoey feedback atop distorted guitars, the crowd ate it up, energizing old fans and converting new.
The Pup banner stayed behind the drum kit the entire night, so there was no cheer or big reveal moment. Instead, it served as a constant reminder of what was to come. So with equally as little fan fare, the four piece set up their instruments, said “Thanks for having us” and dove right into If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will and the crowd went off.
Pup were in top form, the hard months on the road have tightened their sound and performance while their reputation of one of the premiere live bands around proved to be true. Front man Stefan Babcock was frenzied in his delivery as the guitar work from him and Steve Sladkowski ripped through the speakers.
During their hour long set, they played fourteen of their possibly twenty recorded numbers – so pretty much nothing was left behind. It was something both the band and the crowd had in common: neither left anything behind.
Throughout the evening, Pup constantly thanked the crowd for being wild – and they were. It was non-stop moving, dancing, shoving, screaming and stage diving along to DVP, Guilt Trip, Dark Days, My Life Is Over and I Couldn’t Be Happier. They riled everyone up with Sleep in the Heat and pulled them back to reality with The Coast. The crowd cheered with Babcock confessed his love for his car in Mabu and everyone simply felt alive.
As they neared their final two songs of the night, Babcock denounced the idiotic tendencies of fake encores. He promised two songs and that was it, starting the two with Reservoir.
For the final song, he thanked the crowd again and said this tour was the first time they’ve been around the world and people were there to see them – because of that they felt like they no longer needed to impress people with big covers and wouldn’t be playing Sabotage by the Beastie Boys this time. Instead, Babcock put down the guitar, jumped into the crowd and let loose on Old Wounds.
He finished the song on the back of the bar, unplugged the mic and that was it. No encore (as promised), just one solid hour of non-stop adrenaline filled punk in a sold out venue in the heart of Vancouver.
No one could ask for more.