Last week, Portlanders were recovering from the latest date that snow has been recorded in city history. A surprising overnight storm brought several inches of cascade concrete but that didn’t stop fans from gathering at Crystal Ballroom for PUP’s return to the States.
The Canadian emo-punk group brought their driving, honest music to a roomful of diehard fans, putting their latest album front and center. The Unraveling of Puptheband was released in late March and while it doesn’t pack the same stripped down, head-banging punk vibes as earlier efforts, it finds the group aging gracefully while finding new sounds to back their growing lyricism.
Singer Stefan Babcock, backed by bandmates Steve Sladkowski, Nestor Chumak, and Zack Mykula, threw the album’s themes of inner struggle, coping with the pandemic’s isolation and hope for growth at an audience that understood his sentiments. The band kicked off their night with “Four Chords”, the opening track from the latest record. This set the stage so properly that the build up and moshing into “Totally Fine” seemed to last the whole night. They sprinkled in a few highlights from the new album throughout the evening, including a stellar rendition of “Matilda” that included a swooning guitar solo with snippets of “Hotel California” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. They touched on some fan favorites from previous albums, keeping the energy on the verge of unhinged all evening. The show came to a gasping close with “Morbid Stuff” and “Kids”, releasing the exhausted crowd back into the Oregon cold.
Check out all the photos from the show!
Story and photos by Blake Benard