PUP's lead singer and guitarist, Stefan Babcock is beaming from ear to ear as he proclaims: “We've played here five times in three years! It's official – we've played here more times than anywhere else in the world!”
This was PUP's cue to break into the next song and the sold-out crowd's cue to roar out a huge cheer and commence the crowd surfing and stage diving that only a punk band of this magnitude could instigate. The damp weather outside The Joiners in Southampton certainly hadn't dampened anyone's mood inside and as the crowd sang along to 'If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will', 'My Life Is Over And I Couldn't Be Happier', and 'Mabu', the band on stage were clearly enjoying themselves.
Babcock never stopped smiling as he leapt around the stage and the band were constantly acknowledging and addressing the crowd who were quick to show their appreciation. It's refreshing to see a punk band having fun – the days of snarling and sneering at the audience are over and PUP have made sure that by not taking themselves or their songs too seriously, they have a youthful verve that energised the crowd who were more than happy to take over vocals while Babcock hovered the mic above their heads.
It could have been a lot different for PUP, who's 2016 album, 'The Dream Is Over', is so called because it's what Babcock's doctor told him after he'd damaged his vocal chords and risked not being able to sing again. In true punk fashion though, he defied the prognosis and certainly made sure his voice was heard at The Joiners.
The crowd had been well warmed up, with two other excellent bands opening the evening's frivolities. Exeter's Shit Present kicked off proceedings with their brand of pop-punk, dishing out a mature performance that got the full attention of those in attendance.
PUP's fellow Canadians, Solids, turned up the volume with a set that included songs fresh from their latest EP, 'Else'. The audience were patient, if a little quiet, while the band overcame technical problems and a broken guitar string which interrupted proceedings but they were soon voicing their approval as the songs frequently changed pace from heavy to hypnotic, with interesting riffs and time signatures carried on reverberating bass which filled the room. The amount of bass Solids produced was made more impressive by the fact that, bar one song, they didn't actually use a bass guitar and managed to send out pulsating shockwaves with two guitars and a drum kit.
It was a night of good music at a good venue that had great sound quality. It was made better for the fact that each band clearly took pride and enjoyment in what they were doing and weren't afraid to play their own individual styles of music.