Experiencing a decidedly DIY punk band such as Shit Present in a venue such as Bodega was as refreshing as it was surreal. I had to constantly remind myself I was not stood in the JT Soar: an old fruit and vegetable warehouse just outside Nottingham city centre that is now managed as a creative space for musicians to record and perform live.
“The unexpected lyrical resonance of both ‘Kick Me’ and ‘Evaporate’ made them the highlights of [the] set”
Performing tracks that alternated between their debut self titled album as well as Misery + Disaster with an unapologetic defiance, Shit Present actually captivated an audience that nonetheless would have been more than willing to risk being bored in anticipation of PUP. Discerning tracks from one another proved to be somewhat challenging given how little rhythmic and instrumental variation there was. Nevertheless the impassioned vocal delivery not to mention the unexpected lyrical resonance of both ‘Kick Me’ and ‘Evaporate’ made them the highlights of a set that was as punchy as it was personal.
Solids performed their set only half facing the crowd as opposed to Shit Present, who faced the audience entirely. Though a minor detail, it served as a visual manifestation of an evolving sonic identity. There was a genuinely improvisational sense to their set particularly when performing tracks such as ‘Blurs’ and ‘Blank Stare’ from their recent EP Else in the structural variation within tracks as well as between tracks.
“You could really hear how the band had evolved between the record and the EP”
Comparing these to tracks such as ‘Over with the Sirens’ and ‘Cold Hands’ from the record Blame Confusion, you could really hear how the band had evolved between the record and the EP. Where songs from the former were shorter and had a definitive punk rock feel to them, songs from the latter were noticeably longer and more prog rock than they were punk rock.
Another point of comparison between Solids and Shit Present was audience response. Where the crowd were nodding their heads along to Shit Present’s setlist, they were stood completely still as Solids performed their set. As I surveyed my surroundings I didn’t find my enthusiasm was necessarily shared. The crowd looked mostly baffled. If I had to hazard a guess I would say their confusion stemmed from an inability to decide whether the largely inaudible vocals over the guitars was intentional for one, and enjoyable, for another. I for one found their set intensely interesting.
By anyone’s standards, expectations for PUP were set unfairly high; indeed a friend of mine described them as the best live show he had seen. The renowned pure mathematician G.H.Hardy famously noted that “it is not worth a first class man’s time to express a majority opinion… There are already enough people to do that.” As I stood in a room filled to its capacity, and watched PUP resurrect the Bodega, I couldn’t help but disagree with Hardy’s assertion and conclude that there weren’t enough people there who would be able to recall the event in a way that truly did PUP any justice. Most of the floor was now a mosh pit and almost everyone in it crowd-surfed during the set. People could barely contain their heady excitement and wild energy as they fiercely roared along to each track.
“All in all, it was the most religious pop-punk experience I have had to date”
My favourite moments of the evening were the introduction of the track ‘Reservoir’ by lead vocalist Stefan Babcock: “This next song goes out to the guys at the Nottingham Post, who referred to us as ska-punk… Haha, fuck those guys!”. All in all, it was the most religious pop-punk experience I have had to date. Had I not seen Sigur Ros this summer I might have even been inclined to agree with my friend that it was in fact “the best live show”.
Image courtesy of PUP via Facebook