Have you ever discovered a new band which gave you a huge shock of nostalgia upon your very first listen? There’s something powerful about hearing an artist for the first time and having your cranium filled with memories and feelings you haven’t felt in years. For me, that was PUP. First listen through and was instantly blasted back to my young degenerate days when the status quo was to get up early, skate around town with my degenerate friends all hopped up on monster energy and McDonalds dollar menu garbage, and stay up late playing Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland on the PS2, eating pizza rolls and sour patch watermelons. It’s safe to say I was instantly hooked on this band.
PUP, supported by Drew Thomson Foundation and Screaming Females, made their Phoenix, AZ stop at The Van Buren on Tuesday, February 25th. They had noted how awesome the mostly filled room was considering they played to “about 10 people here 2 years ago.” It’s not hard to see why they’ve been gaining traction, especially after the spring 2019 release of their latest album, Morbid Stuff. The supporting acts were phenomenal as well. The band out of Toronto brought along long time Canadian friends, The Drew Thompson Foundation, as well as New Jersey Native, Screaming Females. And both bands did not disappoint. Drew Thomson Foundation, fronted by dry witted, Drew Thomson, took the stage first. The music felt free-spirited. It was a good mix of raw feeling with a dash of punk and a pinch of folk influence. Following Drew Thomson Foundation was Screaming Females. These folks are every bit the explosive musical passion you look for in a live act. The 3-piece band blew me away. Singer and guitarist, Marissa Paternoster has such a rich voice and can seriously shred. They are also incredibly dynamic, switching tempos frequently mid-song without a note out of place, as well as going from tame, bass-lead verses, so energetic chorus and wailing solos. Both of these opening acts deserve your attention.
Finally PUP. These guys lived up to every bit of hype out there. Their energy was phenomenal, and the music was tight and the crowd was there for it. There were circle pits and crowd surfers galore. But perhaps the coolest part of the tour is how they’re giving back. The pointed out their new kick drum skin with an illustration of the earth that says “This place sucks ass.” As guitarist, Steve Sladkowski, stated “we’re just trying to make this place suck a little less ass.” To do that, they’ve partnered with a different charity at each stop of the tour, leaving a donation jar at the merch table. You can learn more about which organizations they’re partnering with at each location by visiting their website, but the organization for the Phoenix stop was White People Against White Supremacy, or White PAWS. The goal of the organization is to help fund grass-roots political parties that are trying to make a difference in Phoenix, especially on the equality front. If you enjoy punk music and making a difference, this is definitely the tour to catch.
Drew Thomson Foundation