PUP Gives Exhilarating, Punk-driven Performance at Brooklyn Steel

The band returned to New York to play its largest headlining show yet.

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Canadian punk band PUP played Brooklyn Steel on Friday to a sold-out crowd. The band has embarked on a triumphant tour that sees them headlining larger venues than ever before, as well as teaming up with local charities to give back in each city they play in.

This past month, PUP released its latest full-length album “Morbid Stuff,” which garnered praise from publications like Pitchfork and NME. With the album, the band’s members sought to deal with their personal struggles without fetishizing the image of the tortured artist. This ethos is echoed when vocalist Stefan Babcock yells “I’ll be sure to write it down/ When I hit rock bottom/ For all the people that love to fetishize problems” on barn-burner “Full Blown Meltdown.” It’s clear that many relate to the band’s lyrics, as their rise to prominence within the global punk scene has been speedy to say the least.

“The last time we played here, we played the Mercury Lounge,” Babcock said with a chuckle. “This feels a little different.”

With a mere capacity of 250 people, the Mercury Lounge is a significantly smaller venue than Brooklyn Steel, which can hold up to 1,800. Though it is playing much larger venues than before, PUP was still able to make the show feel intimate, rowdy and energetic with a mix of new songs and older fan favorites on Friday.

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It’s no secret that PUP likes to leave it all on stage when they perform. In fact, it’s well-known that after touring their first record for two years straight, Babcock was told by a doctor that he shredded his vocal cords and would no longer be able to perform in a touring band. Not one to give up, PUP continued to tour and even recorded a second album — aptly titled “The Dream is Over” —  all without sacrificing the raw emotion and energy the band is known for.

The show in Brooklyn was no different. For 15 songs straight, PUP provided a night of high-octane punk music. Its relatively no-frills approach means that every piece of its tight musical puzzle is integral. Brooklyn Steel’s spacious stage allowed the members of PUP, especially Babcock, to move around and capture the attention of everyone in the room. During the blistering “Closure,” Babcock stood up on his monitor and raised his guitar, which was interpreted by the crowd as an unspoken command to mosh, scream along and go absolutely crazy.

Whether it’s Steve Sladkowski’s pokey and acrobatic lead guitar, Nestor Chumak’s rumbling bass, Zack Mykula’s pummeling drums or Babcock’s unmistakably visceral vocals, PUP is more than simply the sum of its parts.

PUP will return to New York City in September, performing at Terminal 5. With its sharply penned lyrics, muscular punk sound and wild live shows, it’s only a matter of time before PUP becomes a significant force in the punk rock world.

Email Ian Carvalho Traphagen at [email protected].

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