Toronto punk band PUP brought down the house at their Boston Calling after-party show on May 27, 2017 at Great Scott in Allston, Mass.
Saturday marked the one-year anniversary since the release of Toronto-based punk band PUP’s sophomore album, The Dream Is Over. The album came after PUP cancelled several tour dates for the sake of lead vocalist and guitarist Stefan Babcock’s voice and health.
To celebrate, PUP played a Boston Calling after-party show at Great Scott in Allston, Mass. Like all PUP shows, this one was a wild ride from start to finish. This was my second time seeing them there, my fourth time seeing them in general. Every single time, they get better.
With a set list that perfectly balanced older and newer songs, PUP absolutely shredded the Great Scott stage. They even played deep cuts that hardly ever make it onto live sets. It felt like a love letter to the fans who sold the show out in just a few hours.
Babcock, guitarist Steve Sladkowski, bassist Nestor Chumak and drummer Zack Mykula all played with vigor. Sladkowski engaged in sports talk with a fan (only to be shut down, comedically, by Babcock) and thanked fans to the side and front of the stage for trying to keep each other and the band safe.
The front row, usually tasked with protecting themselves and helping crowdsurfers travel to and from the stage, also had to keep the monitors in place. The crowd continuously shoved the monitors further onto the stage as the band played. Cell phones, snapbacks and hoodies were also thrown to the stage as the crowd fought itself.
Crowdsurfers hit low-hanging speakers. Photographers positioned themselves in corners or ditched the pit altogether. In short, as soon as PUP took the stage from local band Choked Up, everyone went wild. The energy was already high, though, as several Choked Up fans were in the crowd singing at the top of their lungs.
Crowdsurfing at Great Scott always seems particularly dangerous to me, but that didn’t stop anyone — including Babcock — on Saturday. The bar venue has ringing acoustics and low ceilings. It’s small, intimate, and the energy is contagious.
Babcock launched off the stage more than once. He expressed surprise the first time. Then during the final song of the night (“DVP”, the second track from The Dream Is Over), the crowd rushed the stage. A fan snagged the mic from Babcock and he shrugged, shed his guitar, and jumped into the crowd to ride the song out.
Last time I saw PUP, Babcock stage dove, then surfed the crowd until he reached the mezzanine. He grabbed the bars, pulled himself up and over (with the help of me, my partner and our friend), and finished the set from there.
Saturday night, it felt like half the audience had jumped on stage at the end. It was incredible. There is never a dull moment at a PUP show, ever.
PUP plays Boston Calling Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m. I imagine the feeling will be pretty different. Festivals don’t have anything on small, packed venues.