PUP Westward Music Festival, Vancouver BC, September 15

PUP Westward Music Festival, Vancouver BC, September 15
Photo: Sharon Steele
When the audience nearly drowns out the band because they're singing at the top of their lungs so loudly, you know it's been a great show. And that was PUP's set at the Vogue Theatre on Friday night: a sweaty, moshy love-fest that both satisfied adoring fans and demonstrated the high calibre of the Toronto-based band.
Frontman and guitarist Stefan Babcock charismatically led the four-piece through a marathon of feel-good punk — smiling, moving around the stage with authority and standing on the edge of drummer Zack Mykula's kit. "Guilt Trip" had climbing, sunny riffs courtesy of lead guitarist Steve Sladkowski, who was wearing a Vancouver Grizzlies basketball jersey. "Sleep in the Heat," from 2016's The Dream Is Over, was a highlight, especially the "whoa oh oh" part, which had the audience singing with their arms thrust in the air, filling the room triumphantly. A grinning Babcock held his microphone, still attached to the stand, out to the mob.
Surfers rode the top of crowd throughout the set and "Reservoir" had members of opening band Brass diving off the stage. Babcock threw himself into the pulsing mass on "Old Wounds," which also featured blistering showings from the whole band.
Later, Sladkowski (despite having a shoe flung past him, presumably in the throes of passion) thanked the room for creating a safe, respectful space and encouraged everyone to spread that love around in the world.
There was no need for an encore — Pup preferred to just play two more songs without leaving — and Babcock encouraged the crowd to sing along to "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will" and "DVP," if they knew the words.
They did.

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