PUP and Sløtface live in London: community, power and riffs upon riffs from two of punk’s finest

London, Electric Ballroom, November 21, 2019

PUP and Sløtface would like you to know that their shows aren’t like most punk gigs. Before fiery new song ‘Crying In Amsterdam’, Sløtface vocalist Haley Shea tells the crowd that the unreleased track is a “really good moshpit song,” but demands “at least half girls in that pit.”

The band throw themselves about across their brilliant 45-minute set – Haley launches herself into the crowd for a frantic ‘Telepathetic’, and the band are only two songs in when bassist Lasse Løkoy goes surfing with his bass still strapped on – and it’s as raucous as their music demands, but the firm no-bullshit attitude these two bands employ means all the usual jerky behaviour you witness at these type of gigs is cast aside in favour of brilliant, uninhibited fun.

To be fair, it’s pretty hard to listen to Sløtface and not want to throw yourself about with the sweaty mass of bodies up front: their set tonight reintroduces them as one of the most exciting new punk bands around, and from the showing of new songs tonight, their upcoming second album ‘Sorry For The Late Reply’ is set to firmly reestablish their voice. “Why be good enough when you could be the damn best?” they ask on new single ’S.U.C.C.E.S.S.’, and there’s no settling here.

This puffed-chest confidence probably comes from watching PUP every night. The Toronto quartet’s third album ‘Morbid Stuff’ is one of the most immaculately put-together rock albums of 2019, and its songs are already branded on the hearts and minds of every sweaty body in the room. By the time they’ve thrashed through its first two songs, ‘Morbid Stuff’ and ‘Kids’, there’s sweat dripping off the ceiling and an immovable grin on every face.

In a recent interview with NME, frontman Stefan Babcock praised the community spirit at the band’s gigs, and said that “every band has a responsibility to call out bad behaviour at shows.” This insistence and care for their fans has fostered a deeply refreshing feel at their shows: tonight is as raucous and uninhibited as any punk gigs, but the arseholes know to stay away.

If the community element of the band and their gigs wasn’t already blindingly evident enough, guitarist Steve Sladkowski pauses mid-set to alert fans to the fact that PUP are raising money at the merch desk tonight for Sea-Watch, a charity that helps with the safe passage of migrants through the Mediterranean Sea. Every night on the ‘Morbid Stuff’ tour, the band have partnered with a local charity of this kind.

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I will never tire of seeing these guys play live ?

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Sladkowski then reminds the crowd that it’s five days before the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming General Election. “People don’t like it when young people vote – and you don’t want to give them that satisfaction,” he says to roaring cheers, before “Tories Out” chants punctuate every break in song that follows for the rest of the set. It puts the crowd even more firmly on PUP’s side, and they show their unwavering dedication through throat-shredding singalongs to closing pair ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’ and ‘DVP’.

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“Make no mistake, I know exactly what I’m doing,” Babcock sings furiously during ‘Morbid Stuff’ highlight ‘Full Blown Meltdown’, in which he has his own crowdsurfing moment. “I’m just surprised the world isn’t sick of grown men whining like children.” Come to a PUP show and you’ll know it’s so, so much more than that.

PUP played:

Morbid Stuff
My Life Is Over and I Couldn’t Be Happier
Back Against the Wall
Free at Last
See You At Your Funeral
Sleep in the Heat
Dark Days
Scorpion Hill
Familiar Patterns
Full Blown Meltdown
If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will