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This Little Underground: The Menzingers & PUP @ The Social

July 4, 2014
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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly’s music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city’s music scene. Read the latest column here.

The Menzingers at the Social (photo by James Dechert)

The Menzingers at the Social (photo by James Dechert)

Well, it looks like I’m back on my unlikely streak of high-quality pop-punk with last night’s Menzingers bill. In recent years, the Menzingers have shot rapidly in both musicianship and popularity, this time selling out the Social. The thing worth championing about their case is that their rise has been fueled not by image, posturing or sensation but simply the timeless power of sturdy songs. Since I first saw this Pennsylvania group a handful of years ago, they’ve gone from a decent but common pop-punk act to one that’s ripened into the kind of chest-filling, Rust-Belt punk rock band that only the Northeast produces so well. Now, their sound is blue-collared, red-blooded and powered more by soul than style. And more than just working their way to the head of the melody-punk class, they’ve moved toward the deep taproot of a classic American sound.

The Menzingers at the Social (photo by James Dechert)

The Menzingers at the Social (photo by James Dechert)

The surprise of the night, however, was the Orlando debut of Toronto’s PUP. The reason so much pop-punk is a fleeting childhood infatuation is because, on its way to the heart, it takes the obvious but often inferior roads. But when it comes to emotion, you can either tap the sap or the strength. And PUP’s anthemic sound does the latter by chasing the melody with gusto and rocking it respectably. They’re poppy but not cute. And with some wider indie-rock dimensionality, they’re not even necessarily tied to the punk-rock box.

But it appears PUP does not share the same fuzzy feelings about Orlando Weekly, citing onstage a one-star review we published earlier this year of their debut LP. Contrary to a rumor floating around the room, the review did not come from me; it came from fellow contributor James Greene Jr. At any rate, it impelled the band to dedicate their finale to us, postscripted by an invitation to fuck off or suck something or other. So much for Canadian bonhomie. But at least one of us at this paper dug you guys. And, hey, look – now we’re all talking about each other.

(photo by James Dechert)

(photo by James Dechert)

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