LIVE: The Menzingers / PUP @ Whelan’s, Dublin

By Tom Walsh

“Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over?”, has been the question The Menzingers have been posing to their audience for the best part of the last 12 months. For those whose answer to this is simply “I don’t really know”, then this is the party they have been looking for.

The Pennsylvania punks arrived in Dublin on the second UK/European cycle of their fifth album ‘After The Party’. It is a record that has proved a sea change in the band’s life, one that is more introspective, one that focuses on the topics we had been putting off for years. Penning an album that is described as a “love letter to their twenties” has resonated with a fanbase facing up to similar milestones.

In a sold-out, sweaty Whelan’s south of Dublin’s famous River Liffey and through the copious amounts of Guinness, we’re going to give our twenties one last hurrah.

Along for the ride are Canadians PUP. The four-piece are gracing the Emerald Isle for the first time in their career and judging by the reception they get from the boisterous crowd, a lot of people have been waiting for them. They thrash through a relentless set picking through favourites from their 2016 sophomore album ‘The Dream Is Over’.

Closing with the spiteful ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’ and sing-a-long ‘DVP’ they set the tone for the night with front man Stefan Babcock screaming “she says I need to grow up”. It’s the ideal farewell for a gig permeated with celebrating a lost youth.

The Menzingers make their bow opening on ‘Tellin’ Lies’ where that question once again rears its head and early-30-somethings embrace each other repeating the line over and over. It feels like we could all be sat in a group therapy session, pondering where everything could be going but it’s much more fun to slam dance and throw beer around.

For that pang of nostalgia, we delve into the four-piece’s back catalogue for the title track from their debut album ‘A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology’. The dual vocalist dynamic continues to work a treat as Greg Barnett and Tom May bounce off each other as they take turns on vocals duty.

There are the tender moments with the tale of young love on ‘Casey’ and ‘Thick as Thieves’ which sits next the self-deprecating ‘The Obituaries’. The audience seems to gather pace as the gig comes to a crescendo with bodies flying during a particular booming version of ‘I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore’.

Of course, The Menzingers can’t come to Dublin without digging further into the archives and dusting the lesser heard B-side ‘Irish Goodbyes’. Naturally, it is a huge crowd pleaser with revellers holding their Guinness’ in salute. There is still time for the self-reflective ‘Lookers’ before an encore of the glorious ‘After The Party’ and the huge ‘In Remission’. We’re left with the words ‘if everyone needs a crutch, then I need a wheelchair/I need a reason to reason with you’ as friends collapse into each other. It’s quite a poetic scene.

Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over? I’m not totally sure but I’d happily stay here for a bit.