You’ve probably heard of PUP by now. In just a few short years, the band has established their importance to the Canadian punk scene, as well as solidifying a well-earned spot in Canadian music as a whole. Formed in Ontario, PUP has absolutely zero apologies about how Canadian they are.
As a Canadian, it is obviously important to recognize when a band born at home makes big splashes across our borders. It’s practically a part of our collective identities. We can all recall at least one time in recent memory when we have had a discussion with our friends about a great new band, and sure enough, someone chimes up, “you know they’re Canadian, right?”
This usually stirs up a warm, almost celebratory reaction from everyone. This familiar feeling is key in understanding the tight-knit attitudes and the strong sense of community that are so prevalent in the Winnipeg music scene.
Last November, PUP played at The Good Will Social Club, ending the Canadian leg of their tour. 2016 saw the release of the band’s second album, The Dream is Over. The album is dripping with expressions of anxiety, uneasiness, insecurity and generally somber themes.
It’s pretty amazing that, somehow, they manage to come off sounding hopeful because of just how honest and unrepentantly open it is. I can without a doubt tell you that there was not a single sad face at The Good Will that night.
Stepping outside into the familiar cold Winnipeg air for a moment and talking to friends and strangers about how content and happy the atmosphere made them feel solidified the sense of community and passion. After the first step back inside the venue, you immediately melted back into exactly what the band wants to tell you.
PUP refuses to hide from the negativity or monotony that life sometimes brings. They instead embrace it and express it confidently, more like a badge of honour than a battle scar.
PUP has not just received acclaim here in Winnipeg. The band was nominated for a Polaris Music Prize, joining fellow Canadian punks Fucked Up in the national spotlight. The band, famously and hilariously, sent their parents to the Polaris gala in their place, as they were busy on tour in Europe.
This perfectly embodies the kind of attitude PUP has toward their music and their energy. The band is accessible not just to punks, but has a broader appeal that has a unifying effect on their audience. Sincerity, as well as sticking with some of the more fun and silly aspects of punk, has earned the band a truly endearing reputation.
PUP is technically an acronym. A “pathetic use of potential” is how some family members of the band described their dreams of becoming professional musicians. It represents the band’s bold clinch of criticism, and obvious refusal to give in is what concretes them not simply as punks, but also as strong entertainers and musicians.
We can learn a lot from a band that sticks so adamantly to its integrity. PUP may not be from Winnipeg, but they more than embody the attitude, community, and spirit of our city.
It doesn’t matter what kind of music you’re into. If you’ve been to a hip-hop show at the Pyramid, or a rock show at the WECC, you have unquestionably felt the enthusiasm our city has to offer. PUP may not be from here, but they were phenomenal guests, and I cannot wait for them to come back and light Winnipeg up again.