Vancouver Special: PUP at the Wise Hall

PUP

PUP returned to Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29th to a sold-out crowd for the first leg of their 2019 “Tour-Pocalypse” in support of their third record, Morbid Stuff

KCR Canada special correspondent checking in here! I finally did something on a Friday night other than drinking beer in bed alone and ventured out to catch Toronto’s beloved punk rock sons, PUP, at the Wise Hall and Lounge on March 29th. Having seen PUP one rowdy night in 2016 at the now-shuttered Cobalt Cabaret, I knew this was a show I shouldn’t miss.

I ran into a slight complication in my plans to attend this show: the tickets to PUP’s Vancouver show sold out in minutes. Granted, the Wise Hall is a pretty small venue, but PUP really seems to be blowing up in recent years. They’ve sold out tons of their upcoming North American tour dates, including all of their Canadian dates, the Fillmore in San Francisco, and both nights at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles. For what I once considered a small Canadian punk band, this is unheard of. I managed to get two tickets a week before the show when the band tweeted that they’d released some more.

The Wise Hall is located just off of Commercial Drive in East Vancouver in the Grandview-Woodland/Little Italy neighborhood. It’s sort of reminiscent of the Irenic in that it’s on a residential street, has a capacity of about 250 people, and was clearly never meant to be a punk rock venue. It’s the type of place that feels homey and welcoming, with gothic chandeliers and a disco ball giving it added charm. Barricade status: none. Hooray!

I arrived at the Wise in time to catch the second opener, Pkew Pkew Pkew.

While I really enjoyed their set, I despise saying their name aloud. They reminded me a bit of The Gaslight Anthem, but I also haven’t listened to The Gaslight Anthem in about eight years, so that might be completely off the mark. Pkew Pkew Pkew is also from Toronto, so they’ve spent a lot of time with PUP over the past few years, both as label-mates and as tour-mates. As such, the crowd welcomed them with open arms and an open mosh pit.

PUP took the stage at 10:45, opening with “Free at Last” from their not-yet-released (at the time) third record, Morbid Stuff.

Morbid Stuff wasn’t released until April 5, but the band played four other songs from the record in the middle of their set: “Sibling Rivalry,” “Kids,” “Scorpion Hill,” and “Morbid Stuff.” Lead vocalist Stefan Babcock prefaced their performance of “Morbid Stuff” by asking us not to film it, in part because it hadn’t been released yet and in part because they “fucking suck at playing it”. While the first reason may have been true, the second certainly wasn’t. The song sounded great, and I’m excited to hear it again once the record comes out.

Fan favorites like “Guilt Trip” and “Sleep in the Heat” were well-received by the crowd; these moments were punctuated by fans (crowd) surfing and (stage) diving overhead. This is the closest thing I have to a day at the beach now that I’m not in San Diego. Anyway, if you’re a big fan of Netflix’s Stranger Things, you should check out PUP’s music videos for these two songs, which both feature Finn Wolfhard. I myself recently almost walked into Finn Wolfhard while coming out of an Urban Outfitters in Vancouver’s affluent, yoga-loving Kitsilano neighborhood. Welcome to Vancouver, aka Hollywood North.

Recently, PUP tweeted that they would be partnering with a local charity for all of their headlining shows on this upcoming tour (and for the foreseeable future).

They’re additionally committed to giving the charity a space at future shows to provide information about their cause. For their show at the Wise, they partnered with Urban Native Youth Association. UNYA provides support for Indigenous youth, empowering them to excel in life and inspiring them to become leaders in their communities. Towards the end of the show, guitarist Steve Sladkowski took some time to talk about the organization, praising them for their work and condemning the government’s abhorrent treatment of Indigenous people throughout Canada’s history. He urged us to fill UNYA’s donation box at the merch table, emphasizing how much work the organization does not only in Vancouver, but particularly in the very neighborhood in which we were attending their show.

Punk has always been about expressing yourself and finding acceptance among likeminded individuals who challenge the status quo. However, initiatives like these really exemplify the shift that’s been happening in the scene recently, a shift in how bands use their platforms and how they prioritize inclusion and safety for everyone at shows. This doesn’t mean that we have to cancel mosh pits and put up barricades at every opportunity. It means that bands are becoming more accountable for how their fans are treated at shows and doing their best to use their platforms to give back to the communities their fans are a part of. Clearly, being punk rock and being a good person don’t have to be mutually exclusive anymore.

Towards the end of the night, the band invited us to participate in a special activity called “PUP Karaoke.”

It’s exactly like it sounds: they invite someone from the crowd to come up and sing one of their songs. Tonight, that song would be “Reservoir” from their 2013 debut self-titled record. While Babcock said that “no one should know the words to any PUP song,” he also said the karaoke participant at their Calgary show had never heard the song before. That would not be the case for tonight’s volunteer, “Seth” (wearing a Space Jam-esque “Abolish ICE” shirt), who knew every word and took this opportunity to live out his punk rock dreams.

When I saw PUP in 2016, they opened the show with what I consider to be their two biggest crowd-pleasers: “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” and “DVP,” both off their second album, The Dream Is Over. The first song segues perfectly into the second with no gap in between, both on the record and at their shows. This time around, the songs were shifted to the end of what was a pretty short set. Probably a better spot for them, as a band’s de facto anthem(s?) are usually best reserved for the finale.

A note about PUP: they don’t do encores, claiming that they “feel like assholes” playing their (fake) last song, leaving the stage for a couple minutes, and returning to play a couple more. As someone who hates clichés, I am in total agreement with their views on encores. With this in mind, PUP sent us off with the aforementioned twin bangers and thanked us for what they said was one of their favorite shows they’ve ever played. I might miss San Diego every minute of every day I spend in Canada, but shows like these suggest that maybe there’s hope for the Vancouver music scene after all.

Catch PUP at the Irenic on June 19th, supported by Ratboys and Beach Bunny. Don’t miss your chance to see ‘em while they’re still playing venues this small!
Written by: Andrea Renney

Now Listening: G.L.O.S.S.

Happy Tuesday pals! Welcome to another week of Now Listening with Lala. Today I’ll be sharing a punk band from Olympia, Washington. These badass chicks break norms and challenge society through their music.

G.L.O.S.S., which stands for Girls Living Outside Society’s Sh*t, is a hardcore band consisting of trans-feminist punk girls who bend gender norms and represent queers from the scene. While most feminists promote peace, G.L.O.S.S. promotes getting a little rowdy in order to get their points across. I know, very punk of them.

Having released two EPs, one in January 2015 and another in June 2016, G.L.O.S.S. has received a lot of recognition for pushing the envelope on what it means to be a girl and a non-binary human in the punk world. Their music is loud and angry, but all with good reason. In today’s age, sometimes screaming and fighting and pushing back is necessary in order to be heard.

Their most recent release, Trans Day of Revenge, is aggressive. Portraying the world as violent, G.L.O.S.S. communicates that the only logical and intelligent response is to be angry. Lyrics spit like rapid fire, and indite societal issues that are not exclusive to the trans and queer world. Calling out cops for their excessive police brutality and standing up for black lives, G.l.O.S.S. maintains their hardcore persona all the while embedding politically complex issues into their emotionally unequivocal music. The sensitive details of their music give occasional rhythm and poetry to their otherwise hardcore d-beat sound.

Unfortunately, upon reaching their newfound fame, G.L.O.S.S. has chosen to break up as a band. After declining an offer for a 50K record deal from the major indie label Epitaph, G.L.O.S.S. realized that their fame was unwanted and simply stressed them out. True to the nature of the punk scene, for G.L.O.S.S., it was not about reaching popularity and making it in the big leagues. The punk they care about was intended to challenge themselves and each other to be better people. Which, they achieved. So with that, G.L.O.S.S. will be no more in a very short time. They will be playing the Not Dead Yet Fest in Toronto in October, and additionally a farewell show somewhere in the Northwest, TBA.

We had fun while they lasted, and G.L.O.S.S. will survive in the world of hardcore and queers for a long long time. Check out some tunes from their demo below, and get your hands on Trans Day of Revenge. ❃

 

The Underrated Top 40

Welcome back Aztecs! I’m back to the daily school grind and that means I’m back to cranking out some sweet playlists for all of you. For the sake of your precious time, I’ll keep this one short and sweet.

For those of you that don’t already know, I like to listen to music that not exactly on the straight and narrow. So I’ve compiled a short list of songs that were on the Top 40 (and/or were relatively popular) and should have stayed there.

  1. Wonderwall- Oasis

In my personal opinion, Wonderwall is one of the most beautifully ambiguous songs ever created. It is truly one of those songs that can be whatever you want it to be. It is very user centric.

  1. Smells Like Teen Spirit- Nirvana

Everyone needs a little teen spirit and Nirvana caters to the grungy teens from the 90’s that were desperately lost, high, and confused (teens these days haven’t changed that much…). The ultimate demise of Kurt Cobain catapulted Nevermind into the stratosphere, solidifying its place in rock history.

  1. Lips Of An Angel- Hinder

This is one of the more “recent” songs on my mini playlist. Less rock elements and a slower pace brought this song onto the top 40 in the mid 2000’s, no questions asked.

  1. Ocean Avenue- Yellowcard

My all-time favorite band, not my all-time favorite song. That being said, it seems to be one of the general populations top rock choices.  I still can’t get over the use of violin by Yellowcard. Violin and rock music are a perfect mix. If you don’t believe me, give it a listen.

  1. Gives Me Hell- The All American Rejects

The best humorous break-up song that ever appeared on hits radio. Although The All American Rejects are sub-par at best, its quality fruit on the rather fruitless top 40 tree.

No matter your music taste, everyone needs a few new songs to play on repeat once in a while. Have at it folks.

You can find my Spotify playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/user/kelseydonahue14/playlist/6f9inwnDed1fUqR1CyrVrq

I’m also on air Monday’s from 10-11pm playing rock, indie, punk and whatever else fits my mood.

Now Listening: AJJ

Hey, hi, hello and welcome to another edition of Now Listening with Lala!

To some, Andrew Jackson Jihad is just a funny name for some farm boy that lives in the Midwest. However, it is not just the name of that poor poor boy. Better known as AJJ (formerly Andrew Jackson Jihad, they actually just changed the name last week), they are a wicked folk punk band from Phoenix, Arizona. Formed in 2004, the band encompasses a free-wheeling combination of both Americana and alt-punk sounds.

One of the most notable features of AJJ is the lyricism of their tracks. Known for addressing social anxiety, humanity, politics, and religion, AJJ covers themes that most bands of the punk genre choose to ignore. The unique talking/yelling tones of vocalist Sean Bonnette has also drawn attention to the band. A sound that is not necessarily folk or blues, or pop or punk, AJJ is the kind of band that you cannot completely place into a single genre.

The quality of such a band is far and few between. A highly prolific band in the early years of their formation, AJJ’s most recent album was released in mid 2014. Christmas Island is a fluid and versatile representation of what AJJ has created in the past and (hopefully) a foreshadowing of what is to come in the future. Some personal favorites of mine include Kokopelli Face Tattoo, which is full of fuzzy synth and heavy guitar. In addition, Temple Grandin is a notable track, with vastly different, off-the-cuff acoustic composition. Aside from the most recent album, People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World is a wonderfully accurate representation of all that AJJ has been and can be.

AJJ just played a show last weekend at the North Park Observatory along with Joyce Manor (One of my all time favorites EVER). The show was, for lack of a better term, OFF THE CHAIN. The precision of AJJ was impeccable and I had trouble telling whether I was listening to a recorded album or not. The powerful lyrics of their tracks allowed for quite a performance, and while sorta dorky dudes, they were definitely rockstars that night. As usual, Joyce Manor gave an intensely awesome and fun performance as well.

Listen to some of the new and best of AJJ below! ❃