Moose Blood

support PUP + Luca Brasi
author HES date 25/09/16 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

The venue is also already buzzing as I arrive just in time for the first gig in a series of three - Luca Brasi, PUP and Moose Blood. This gig is however hard to predict: It has been sold out for weeks, but I have mostly heard of people attending because of the Canadians in the middle of PUP and of very few joining because of the otherwise enjoyable Brits of Moose Blood. In front of the stage awaits a dedicated crowd, patiently waiting - but for whom?

Luca Brasi

Whereas Luca Brasi impressed very little on the few tracks I listened to pre-show, the sound that meets us on stage is more vibrant and lively than expected. The Aussies seem to go all in with an energetic performance dominated more by character than expressed on their recorded material. Vocalist/bassist Tyler Richardson makes a great attempt at involving his audience and all the band members seem to be enjoying themselves. However, after the first 10 minutes, the positive impression of the notable difference between my expectations and the band’s actual performance value, as well as the novelty, slowly wears off and bares that the song construction still is, however well-performed, not quite unique or well-composed enough to really set the band apart from the ever-growing field of up-coming punk rock bands.

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PUP

Okay, so it’s quickly quite apparent that a big chunk of the people here came to see PUP. As we shuffle to get closer to the stage, the set weirdly sets off with one of the band’s slower, more quiet songs; “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will”. That doesn’t stop the crowd from yelling along to memorable lines like "I don’t wish you were dead I wish you’d never been born at aaall". Unfortunately it also becomes apparent that a lump of people right before the stage are hogging the good spots for Moose Blood in the rather small venue, meaning that the dedicated (older) PUP-fans end up embracing the (younger) Moose Blood-fans in a half-circle with people jumping and singing along in both ends closest to the stage. It’s a rather odd sight and makes for a quite disconjointed experience.

However, it seems that the band slowly has an effect on the at first very reluctant yolk of the crowd starts to warm up. Especially the more rhythmic songs like “DVP”, “Doubts” and “Can’t Win” seem to be convincingly danceable in a live setting and this is in spite of the band’s sometimes asynchronous compositions, perfectly mastered by Steve Sladkowski’s high-pitched, cyclical guitar-riffs and Zack Mykula’s contrapuntal drum work. Overall the set is dominated by the high-energy tracks from the band’s latest release “The Dream Is Over” - leaving very little room for tracks from the otherwise also excellent debut “PUP”. But it only really emphasizes PUP’s general level of not only writing great songs, but also performing them well: The set is simply way too short and peaks prematurely with the band’s biggest “hit” “Reservoir” with an explosion in both of the differed crowds. Question however is if vocalist Stefan Babcock’s voice would’ve lived through a longer set, as it seems a little rougher than usual. One of the big fortés of PUP’s constellation however is, how much of the effectful melody line is carried by not only Babcock, but the entire band that skillfully joins in for backing vocals. It is clear that PUP has a dedicated following in Denmark and probably should get around to headlining their own tour in Europe - this set also proves that they’re worth the attention of their fans.

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Moose Blood

It is clear straight away that a lot of the responsibility of selling this show out rests on PUP’s shoulder, as the crowd nears half-size when the Welsh headliner Moose Blood hit the stage. At the same time it’s pretty clear, that Moose Blood has a die-hard following in Denmark: They have endured two bands - one of them probably a little outside their comfort zone - to keep their spots and are now rewarded by a true feeling of “togetherness” as they still gather in a small bundle all the way in front of the stage. To the onset of “Pastel”, the bundle erupts in a cathartic expansion as they start a singalong that will last to the very end of the set with “Knuckles”.

Moose Blood has been criticized for maybe being a tad too toothless in their expression for the “emo-label” (that seems to be thrown a lot more around these days). And albeit there’s far from Moose Blood’s position in the genre-scale, they manage to sound a lot more daring and rough in a live setting. Among the newer tracks especially “Honey”, “Sway” and the before-mentioned “Pastel” seem to get a more interesting taste with vocalist Eddy Brewerton’s vocal getting a little sharper and urgent. However, this strain also results in a few bars here and there being a little too rough for my taste.

The best parts of the set however still are when Moose Blood play tracks from their 2014-release “I’ll Keep You In Mind From Time To Time”, particularly “Bukowski” where the iconic chorus “To keep warm, I'll bring a sweater, you can have mine, it looks better and honestly, you can take it home” is sung at full throttle as well as “Gum” where the crowd completely overtakes the opening lines “Do you wanna come over later, to my house? Watch American beauty in the dark” to Brewerton’s surprise and awe. A few remnants of the PUP-crowd even stand in the back and nod along. It clearly doesn’t have the edge and intricacy of PUP’s compositions, but there’s something working in Moose Blood’s songwriting, albeit simple and sometimes on the verge of being cheesy - but for songs like “Cherry” which has a narrative that’s worth buying into, the band actually place themselves at a goosebump-worthy level that the audience surely is taking in tonight.

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