Published Jul 23, 2016PUP proved that you can, in fact, turn hippies into punks and punks into hippies, bridging the divide with their Friday night (July 22) set at Hillside. Rather than toning down their usual explosive sound to meet the folk fest's vibe, they cranked it up full blast and transformed the quiet Guelph Lake island into a raging mosh pit in mere seconds.
Opening with the one-two suckerpunch of "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You I Will" and "DVP" from their recently released sophomore album The Dream Is Over, the Toronto four-piece woke up the sleepy, overheated hippy crowd, morphing them into a sweltering mass of jumping, moshing and crowdsurfing animals. It didn't go unnoticed by the band, with frontman Stefan Babcock later remarking that he'd never seen so many Misfits t-shirts paired with Birkenstocks, and guitarist Steve Sladkowski dubbing the scene before him "Hillside Ninja Warrior."
In what may have been a Hillside first, barricades had to be put in place before the show — but, in typical Hillside style, the metal fences were yarn-bombed within minutes. The delightful colourful decorations didn't stop the barriers and accompanying security force from promptly getting crushed forward with the weight and enthusiasm of the wild crowd, though.
Charging through blasts of anthemic, shout-along pop-punk, PUP were in usual fine form, mirroring the overpowering energy of their fans as they screamed and shredded their way through new songs like "My Life Is Over and I Couldn't Be Happier," "Familiar Patterns" and "Sleep in the Heat," while being sure to bust out older favourites from their self-titled debut like "Lionheart," "Back Against the Wall" and "Reservoir," as well.
After the latter, the band barely left the stage before storming back to end the evening with the latest riotous cover in their repertoire. "We're out of songs that we wrote that we can play competently," Sladkowski announced, launching into Weezer's "El Scorcho."
As the makeshift sprinkler system (a.k.a. a volunteer dowsing the crowd with non-stop sprays from a giant water bottle) shut down and the punks reverted to their Hillside hippy state and shuffled out of the tent, stragglers picked up the belongings they'd lost in the fray. Cell phones, earplugs and bandanas were returned to their rightful owners (probably in much worse condition than they started), while other items — including the sole of a shoe and a contact lens — lay abandoned in the dirt, willingly sacrificed in the name of a good time.