Published Jul 07, 2019"This is not the ideal situation, to see PUP in a giant field, but you guys are doing great!"
Standing before the thousand or so fans who congregated to the main stage for an alt/punk rock-friendly lineup that included the Glorious Sons and Taking Back Sunday, PUP guitarist/singer Stefan Babcock addressed his band's struggles in capturing any semblance of energy in the capacious Ottawa Bluesfest fairgrounds. Walking out to John Tesh's "Roundball Rock" blaring though the speakers, and dressed in their standard black T-shirts/jeans combo, PUP launched into the first two tracks from their celebrated 2019 LP, Morbid Stuff.
As latecomers ran towards the stage, Babcock asked for the scant few who witnessed their Bluesfest 2013 side stage appearance to identify themselves before PUP upped the onstage energy with raucous versions of "My Life Is Over and I Couldn't Be Happier," from their 2016 LP, The Dream Is Over, and "Dark Days," from their 2013 self-titled debut. Matching the band's vibe, festivalgoers began to crowd surf and form a mosh pit just in time for an extended version of "Scorpion Hill" that found Babcock venturing into the crowd, sans mic, to sing along with fans as guitarist Steve Sladkowski and bassist Nestor Chumak provided the song's obligatory "whoa-ohs."
After launching into a heavy and tight version of "Reservoir," the quartet sped through fan-favourite "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will" before abruptly and surprisingly walking off stage just 50 minutes into their allotted hour-long set. As fans clamoured for an encore, PUP failed to return to the stage, as their focus most likely moved towards the 'secret show' they would perform later that night at Ottawa's House of Targ — an intimate, inauspicious arcade/venue where the band would undoubtedly feel light-years more at home.