PUP at the Pike Room in Pontiac
Review by: Music Director Kevin Hawthorne
It had been humid and rainy all day, the kind of weather that makes many people hate Michigan summers. However, when PUP comes to town people show up in droves.
It’s not often you can see one the best bands in punk rock with two incredible opening acts. Doors hadn’t even been open 10 minutes before the small Pike Room was nearly packed.
The first act, Charly Bliss, was a group that I had heard of prior but never sat down and listened to.
Their set made me an instant fan.
I wasn’t the only one; most of the crowd had their arms folded but by the end of their set the whole crowd was headbanging and dancing. Charly Bliss played joyful pogo punk reminiscent of 90’s stalwarts like Superchunk, with lead singer Eva Hendricks’ helium vocals cutting through the beefy guitars. Hendricks performed with the energy of a kid who’s having the best sugar rush in the entire world. By the time their set ended, the whole crowd was beaming.
Next up were power-pop superheroes Rozwell Kid. They ripped through an incredibly tight set of Weezer-esque anthems like Baby’s First Sideburns, Sick Jackets and Kangaroo Pocket. Their set was filled with glorious guitar shredding, and rock star moves that would make Pete Townshend green with envy. Never taking themselves too seriously, the band got the crowd to laugh out loud on more than couple occasions and kept them moving throughout their entire performance. They closed out their set with Angus Soundtrack Deep Cut—a reference to the relatively obscure MTV movie Angus who’s soundtrack features classic songs by Weezer and Green Day— and left the crowd to wait with baited breathe for PUP.
When PUP came on stage the crowd’s excitement was uncontainable.
The band hadn’t even turned on their instruments when the audience started cheering. The band opened with, “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You Then I Will,” the first track of their new record The Dream Is Over.
Lead singer Stefan Babcock didn’t even make it two lines into the song before the crowd pushed forward knocked the mic over.
“This is a great way to start a set,” said a laughing Stefan, before restarting the song.
From then on it was an unstoppable powder of keg of energy, with everyone joining in. Slam dancing, crowd surfing and stage diving were constant. They ripped through new songs like “DVP and My Life Is Over and I Couldn’t Be Happier,” and old tracks like “Dark Days and Factories.”
The highlight of the set came when Babcock set down his guitar to sing the ripping hardcore track Old Wounds and jumped right into the crowd while screaming “You wanna know if I’m a prick? Well, I am and you’re not gonna change me!”
When the time came to close out the set guitarist Steve Sladkowski announced that since there was no backstage at the Pike Room, they would play just two more songs and be done.
“Encores are kinda lame anyway,” Sladkowski wisecracked.
They then ended with the fan-favorite Reservoir, and a cover of Weezer’s El Scorcho.
The crowd walked out to the empty streets of Pontiac on a Wednesday night exhausted and covered in sweat, but none of the use cared; we had seen PUP and nothing else mattered.