Remembering Our Last Show
Inspired by many posts I've seen recently lamenting how much we miss shows (so SOOOOOO much!!!), I went back to the videos and photos I took of my last show before the world shut down: PUP at the Waiting Room in Omaha, NE. Thinking it might make the start of a good blog, and that it might be therapeutic (it was) I wrote up this "revisit to my last show." Hope it triggers some happy memories.
On the Way
It had been months since I’d last seen a show (bands rarely come to my current hometown, Des Moines, IA, and in the winter, travel is hit or miss) and I’d been waiting for March 4th on my calendar for what felt like forever. But the day finally arrived, I got through my work day and I was on the road to Omaha to see PUP for my first time. They played at The Waiting Room (club with about 400 max capacity) a venue I knew well after living 5 years in Omaha. It had been there the entire time I was, booking an eclectic range of musical acts (that does favor indie rock) in a neighborhood that has really revitalized with TONS of quality bars and restaurants opening in the last decade. If you ever go, give yourself time before the show to head across the street to Krug Park and have one of their many bloody marys. No matter the time of day!! Trust me… :)
Sadly, this show was a Wednesday night and I didn’t have the luxury to take time off from work either day, so no bloodys for me. But I was treated to my standard (and glorious) pre-show, me time of hours singing as loud and as passionately as I damn please alone in my car. This time primarily to the Barstool Preachers’ 2018 “Grazie Governo” album (I know, I know, yet another Mabel showering love on the Preachers!!) and Anti Flag’s 20/20 vision, released a few months prior in January. I was slightly disappointed that my go-to, “sure I’ll join you for whatever” Omaha friend was busy, but I’m used to attending concerts solo and was NOT going to miss this show. Another friend had introduced me to PUP the summer before when he included “Reservoir,” “DVP” and “Scorpion hill” on a playlist. This led me to check out their full albums (can’t pick a favorite--they all rip), and then videos (ALL worth watching; they actually tell a story/enhance the song instead of being an afterthought, but “Mabu” and “Guilt trip” are probably my faves), and I was hooked. How can you NOT adore a band who write songs in tribute to a first car, or to fighting with siblings as well as more classic themes like lost love and being on the outside?
A Young Crowd
But back to the show. First thing that stands out in my memory is that I went in not really knowing either opener, but actually loving both (how often does that happen?!). A still striking memory was that the crowd had a ton of very young looking faces. I’d read that PUP has a large under 18 following, and only plays all ages shows, but considering the music tastes of my high school students, I figured “large” was a more relative term, as in “large in relation to the number who have even heard of ….(insert my favorite bands here)…” But no. There were LOTS of teens, plenty right in front, and a good amount of pre-teens there with an obviously rad, punk parent. This may say something about the stage I’ve reached in my life, but instead of being annoyed, I was pretty touched.
I arrived at the end of the first act, The Drew Thomson Foundation (Canadian, Single Mothers frontman’s side project). I probably heard his last three songs, and was really getting into it when, of course, he and his band finished. It was enough of a taste though to get me to check out the album, which was on heavy personal rotation for awhile, with “Karma” being my favorite track. Having heard only enough about Single Mothers to know they’re hardcore, I was expecting a much less melodious sound, but I suppose having a different sound SHOULD be the point of playing something different from your band! At this point I don’t remember exactly what was said, but feel like the banter he had with the crowd was pretty funny, which is always an extra, but never expected, bonus.
The next opener was Screaming Females from New Brunswick, New Jersey, and holy DAMN their singer/lead guitarist, Marissa Paternoster RIPS!!! This is especially dramatic considering the fact that she’s a small woman, on a stage with two dudes, but the second she started singing I was absolutely transfixed on nothing but her the entire set. She has a gorgeous, deep voice and breaks into guitar solos that left the entire crowd just staring with mouths hanging open. She plays at the level truly worthy of the title “guitar hero.” My favorite song from the show was “I’ll make you sorry,” whose title makes clear the song’s message.
Then PUP took the stage. And me and the kids squealed.
They opened with "If this tour doesn't kill you I will'' and it felt like everyone in the crowd was singing along. Perhaps after 5 months and no other shows, I'm remembering now with extra rosy glasses, but this moment set up one of the funnest sets I'd seen in quite awhile. I LOVE that energy when it feels like the entire building is rapidly into it, and I'd read that PUP has that kind of following. I'm proud to report that even in a smaller, midwest venue this proved to be true. As would be expected, the majority of their set consisted of their most recent album, 2019's Morbid Stuff. My only (very small, and totally self indulgent) complaint was that they actually played my least favorite track, which I was convinced they wouldn't, thinking it was way more a studio than venue song. Lead singer, Stefan Babcock, actually made a comment about how they rarely play it at shows, but that they like it so much!! ...Guess I misread that one (which I'm intentionally not naming, but if you were there, you know!!) Also turns out they have great stage banter, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a sucker for accents and find Canadian ones particularly endearing! I especially liked how all of the members interjected and added comments, instead of leaving it solely to the lead singer to connect with the fans. The absolute highlight though, was when Stefen crowd surfed out to the middle of the crowd and actually FULLY STOOD UP on people's hands!! I've never seen someone do that, or even attempt it! They finished with "Scorpion hill" but at this point, I only remember that was the last song, but not whether it was an encore or not.
And then Covid hit and all the fests and shows we had on the horizon went to hell. Turns out drummer, Zack Mykula’s, bass drum wasn’t just funny but prophetic.
What was your last show? Tell us all about what you remember that was rad/memorable/so standard that it didn't strike you then, but you desperately miss now!!