Tuesday night, Toronto pop-punk quartet PUP played the first ticketed event at the new Moroccan Lounge deep in the Arts District. The venue is owned by the people that operate the Teragram Ballroom, another DTLA gem.
Like the Teragram, the Moroccan Lounge offers a bar room with booths outside the doors to the actual concert space. Unlike the Teragram, I wasn’t asked for my ticket to get to the bar — instead, the ticket was scanned as you entered the doors to the concert room. The 275-capacity room is pretty sweet itself — with some really nice lighting that should make those Instagram photos come out pretty nice.
I got to the venue just as comedian Dave Ross was wrapping up his set. As PUP took the stage, the crowd lost their shit. I caught a bit of their set at Boston Calling this spring and was wowed by their energy. That was in an open space, seeing them in a small room like this took them up a couple notches.
“The sound guy said nobody’s ever puked here yet, and I think I’m one beer from changing that,” lead singer Stefan Babcock said early in the show. The band was stoked to play the gig, saying it was their fastest gig to ever sell out at 13 minutes. The Moroccan Lounge have been putting their best foot forward with higher-profile bookings than the capacity of the room would dictate — acts like BORNS, GROUPLOVE, and Grizzly Bear have shows scheduled there over the next month or so.
Though pop-punk hasn’t been my wheelhouse for many years now, PUP definitely connected with a lot of people in their late twenties and below. The singalongs were nonstop and there are few shows this year I saw such a high level of crowd participation. The band reminded me a bit of one of my emocore favorites from my youth called No Motiv (though PUP was admittedly much harder).
There was an insane amount of crowdsurfing and stagediving at this show. The distance between the crowd and the stage was pretty nonexistent. Fans jumped on stage and weren’t rushed off by any security, dancing around before diving back into the crowd.
Babcock himself crowdsurfed to the soundboard. You could see the fear in one of the venue’s workers eyes as Babcock approached the sparkling new soundboard on top of the hands of the crowd, but Babcock was lightly dropped off around one of the beams, where he stood to sing the rest of the song.
After decrying the idea of encores, he toasted his band “Great fucking tour, boys,” sounding almost like a character from Trailer Park Boys (also Canadian) before launching into their finale, “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will”.
The Moroccan Lounge will become a surefire favorite of LA concertgoers. Usually, intimate rooms that size have shitty sound, but they really put things together nicely here. My only personal gripe is it’s a bit further of an Uber ride than I usually have to take to a concert, but that’s easy to get over.