PUP photo tour diary

June 24 2014, 4:44 PM EDT Cassie Whitt Photographer: Kara Smarsh

  • PUP playing Webster Hall, New York City
  • Webster Hall in NYC was the second night of tour, and my first night joining up with the bands. (Webster Hall, New York City)
  • The band shared drum kits and Stefan asked if he could jump from the kick drum earlier in the evening. (Webster Hall, New York City)
  • The size of the venues varied significantly from night-to-night. (Webster Hall, New York City)
  • PUP at Webster Hall, NYC
  • PUP at Webster Hall, NYC
  • PUP at Webster Hall, NYC
  • PUP at Webster Hall, NYC
  • PUP at Webster Hall, NYC
  • PUP at Webster Hall, NYC
  • Webster Hall was one of the largest venues, and by the end of the night the crowd was massive. (Webster Hall, New York City)
  • When we got into Philadelphia, we stopped at Di Pinto guitars, where guitarist Steve Sladkowski ended up making a purchase. The guys at the store were nice enough to deliver the guitar to the venue before the show that night.
  • We left Di Pinto and arrived at WXPN just in time for PUP's recording session. (pictured: PUP bassist Nestor Chumak)
  • PUP
  • It took a little while for everyone to get plugged in and to figure out how to best record in the room at the station.
  • PUP performed three songs for WXPN.
  • After one take of Reservoir the guys thought about doing another take, but Stefan wanted to conserve his vocals for the show.
  • PUP wrapped up recording Dark Days and Guilt Trip.
  • Listening to playback in the control room at WXPN.
  • We quickly unloaded at Union Transfer.
  • The backstage area is super-efficient for loading in, but because it was their hometown show, by showtime it quickly became too small to house all of the friends of the Menzingers.
  • The guys took a break before dinner for an interview with Philly local publication The Weekender.
  • "I basically still feel like we're tricking people, every time someone buys a record."
  • "When choosing a name, PUP was simply a word they didn't all hate, coming from the term “Pathetic Use of Potential,” although it's not an acronym – it's just PUP."
  • Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA
  • PUP's vocalist, Stefan, worked in marketing at a Canadian label called Arts & Crafts before leaving to pursue the band.
  • "I realized that we could really do this."
  • Stefan Babcock (vocals and guitar) and Zach Mykula (drums and backing vocals)
  • The most striking part of my days with PUP was how strong the music community was. Almost everywhere we went there was somewhere to stay. The opening band, Cayetana, were also from Philly and we stayed with members of their band before heading to D.C. the following morning.
  • In Washington D.C., PUP played Rock and Roll Hotel.
  • The venue was smaller than those we had been at the previous nights, but PUP's performance was unaltered by the change of environment.
  • "Sometimes you don't feel like you want to perform, but then you realize that you only have 30 minutes a day to work and give it your best."
  • The drive from D.C. back up to Rochester, NY was the longest one I spent with the guys. Steve was in charge of music that day and I was in charge of sitting next to that pies gifted to us by our hosts in D.C.
  • This is the only shot of Stefan not making a face at me while he discusses their next music video over the phone.
  • We found Scott, the best, and only, tour manager on the tour doing Menzingers business after we arrived at the Bug Jar.
  • "Just make it sound like s---. Just really like s---." (The Bug Jar, Rochester, NY)
  • The Bug Jar in Rochester was my last show with PUP and after the first song, Stefan announced that it was my birthday! It wasn't.
  • It was also the most sweaty show, with fans packed in tight to the small room containing the stage.
  • They tried to deter crowd surfing in the cramped room to the point of trying to eject band members and crew from the venue if they crowd surfed.

Photographer Kara Smarsh recently hit the road with PUP, one of our 100 bands you need to know this year, on their current tour opening for the Menzingers, and captured the whole thing in this new photo diary. 

You can catch the tour, which also includes Lemuria and Cayetana this summer through early July at the following dates: 

June 26 Austin, TX - Red 7 Inside 
June 29 Houston, TX - Fitzgeralds Downstairs
June 30 New Orleans, LA - Siberia                 
July 02 Tampa FL - Orpheum 
July 03 Orlando, FL - The Social 
July 04 Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade - Middle 
July 05 Richmond, VA - Strange Matter 
July 06 Baltimore, MD - Ottobar 

"Touring in support of the recent release of their self-titled album, PUP has garnered acclaim from both album reviewers listening at home through their headphones and concert patrons seeing and hearing them for the first time live and in person. Often shooting from the crowd across the Northeast gave me the opportunity to personally hear concert-goers confirm with each other their positive impressions of a band that they had never heard before.

As they would say, "Second of four doesn't get a sound check," which also means that they had one chance every night to dominate the stage and gain new fans with their energetic, emotionally-driven and infectious set. The Menzingers' Rented World tour was the perfect platform for them to perform to new audiences and sold-out crowds and to also show that they could hold their own among veterans of their scene.

Over the four days I spent with PUP, documenting their daily lives as much as their nightly performances, I also lived their daily lives. At one point, guitarist Steve Sladkowski commented that when he didn't necessarily feel like playing a show, he would just remind himself that he only had to work for half an hour each day and he had only that time to give it his all. In reality, these guys give everything they have on a daily basis and have sacrificed time with loved ones and promising careers in the pursuit of their passions for playing music, and they're finding a lot of success that only they would consider unexpected." —Kara Smarsh