Concert Reviews

PUP at the Danforth Music Hall

the lowdown

Started from the Magpie and now they were here.. at the Danforth!. Back in 2013, few sweaty souls were the first to see PUP, the Toronto based punk rockers formerly known as Topanga.

What have they been up to since then?

  • 3 acclaimed records
  • Canadian and International recognition from Billboard and Rolling Stone
  • Performing on Late Night with Seth Meyers earlier this year
  • Having a fanboy in Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things (he appears in 2 of their music videos)

Nothing much then.

The foursome were celebrating their success with 2 sold out homecoming shows at the Danforth.


who got the party started (the openers)

As an opening band, if you can get the crowd from passive mobile perusing to focus on you:

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Drew Thomson Foundation fared even better. Lead by Thomson, founder of Single Mothers, the set had its good share of his self-deprecating charisma and Canadiana Rock n Roll. Songs like ‘Pace Yourself’, ‘Rifle’ and ‘Stay’ are worthy of repeat listens.

The second opener, Diet Cig did all the things well to be endearing: positivity, high energy and repeatedly bringing up the local basketball team who happen to be playing Game 4 for the NBA Finals. When it came to the music though, the band missed the mark. Alex Luciano’s nasal voice lost its charm soon into the set. The highly vanilla and childish songs about ‘cops being bastards’ or ‘wanting to eat ice-cream on your birthday to blow all your pain away’ didn’t fit in with the dark and vulnerable messaging of the other bands. Even Luciano’s infrequent leg kicks and unpretentious energy couldn’t keep most engaged.


this is what you came for (the headliner)

Punk rock and success have yet to find a friend in each other. Success rhymes with comfort, privilege, fame, money, etc. Punk is everything but those. How do the faithful fanatics usually react when their favourite punkers sample success?

The answer is Green Day.

When it comes to PUP, the sold out crowd celebrated the homecoming of their favourite local punkers. The deafening cheers started as soon as the backdrop dropped, and the foursome came out to NBA on NBC classic intro of the John Tesh era, an ode to the Game 4 of the finals. The cheers were instantly replaced by unified chanting of ‘I was kissing your salty lips’, as the band broke into ‘Free at Last’. The crowd’s relentless passion was matched by the lads on stage, as Stefan Babcock and company wasted no time with banter or impersonal chit-chat. The idea was to return the love they were receiving by playing through most material from the 3 album discography, including the recently released Morbid Stuff.

At most concerts, the energy of the room simmers, as the band plays filler material in between the hits like newly released songs, deep cuts, etc. That wasn’t the case on Friday night. The 1500 plus assembled gave it their all during the favourites like ‘Reservoir’, ‘Mabu’, or ‘Kids’. But, also didn’t hold back during the newly released ‘See you at your funeral’ or ‘Bloody Mary, Kate and Ashley’. Such unconditional fandom is remarkable.

Full Disclosure: I went into the concert knowing absolutely nothing about PUP. The idea was to go to the show without letting the hype taint the review, and the objectivity of the performance. This Friday night, I got my first taste of a Toronto based soon-to-be punk gods who write equally sassy and mature anthems and are friends with Mike Wheeler. Count me in as a convert.

Missed out on PUP’s intimate shows at the Danforth? Be sure to catch them at Echo Beach July 21. Tickets available here

About author

Unemployed U of T grad by day, Nilabjo is in this writing thing for one reason: to see shows for FREE! He is also not ashamed to admit his unabashed love for Backstreet Boys. And oh yeah, the name is pronounced the way its spelt.