Post-Punk Band Big Ups Returns to the ’Sco with Halloween Special

Big Ups, a post-hardcore punk band, will bring a holiday-themed performance to the ’Sco on Halloween. Its four members — Joe Galarraga, Amar Lal, Brendan Finn, and Carlos Salguero Jr. — formed the band at New York University in 2013. Their ’Sco performance is a pit stop between their recently-concluded fall tour with METZ and Toronto’s Dilly Dally. Their next tour starts in St. Louis, Nov. 2.

Tough Love Records describes Big Ups’ music as a “blend [of] punk, post-punk, metal and indie rock into a salty mash that gets stuck to the roof of your mouth.”

Big Ups has released two albums so far. Their debut, Eighteen Hours of Static, was followed by Before a Million Universes. The title of their second album was inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem, “Song of Myself.” In an interview with Culture Creature in 2016, Galarraga spoke to this inspiration.

“We’re talking about [Whitman’s idea of] how an individual becomes a part of something bigger and how a person’s identity helps them to see their place in the world and perhaps be a force of change in it,” Galarraga said. “We’re building upon that but talking about things that happened in our generation.”

Big Ups sings about capitalism, economic guilt, justice, and community — themes that often feature in discourse at Oberlin — which is why they have been invited back for another performance on campus.

“They came to the ’Sco in 2015, and they wanted to come back so it’s very exciting,” said College sophomore and event host Matt Grimm.

This week, Grimm spoke to the Review about the band and what listeners can expect from their upcoming performance.

”It’s a very good punk band that has its loud and very quiet [moments], he said. “It’s very chaotic but it will be a fun show to just dance to, experience some fun music. [The] performers are very energetic.”

If the sociopolitical relevance of Big Ups’ music isn’t enough to draw crowds, audience members can potentially expect a hair-raising Halloween ambience at the ’Sco. Grimm let slip that there might even be some special Halloween beers on sale for those of drinking age. “It’s on a Tuesday, but it’s Halloween night, so if people don’t necessarily want to go to a bigger Halloween event and want something a little more loose and a little more fun, that’s there for them,” he added.

Student band Weed Vacuum, influenced by post-hardcore and punk bands whose sound could be described as dark and heavy, will be opening the show at 10:30 p.m.

Band member Brandon Minor described his experience with Big Ups. “I heard about Big Ups when I was in freshman year of high school after seeing the video for Goes Black on Youtube,” he said. “Then while I was in the band I used to play in, Bleary Eyed, we opened for Big Ups in D.C.”

Punk fans are fervently awaiting the concert. Joey Shapiro, a senior Cinema Studies major, described his experience with punk shows.

“Punk shows are such a mixed bag because there’s a definite undercurrent of toxic masculinity in the scene, but really great punk shows have an energy and joyfulness that is totally absent from any other kind of concert,” he said. “Being in a really rowdy mosh pit is both terrifying and liberating.”

Eager to broaden his audience, Minor readily dispelled some preconceived notions punk novices may have about the music.

“I think the biggest misconception about punk is that it’s just noise and screaming, but it can also be very melodic and sweet-sounding as well.” he said.

Gabe Steller, another College senior, described a common criticism punk music often faces.

“People sometimes don’t think the lyrics are intelligible. Those who can’t necessarily hear [the lyrics] the first time or understand them the first time [need to] hear the song. You might understand it the fifth time or you can always look them up.”

Steller encouraged everyone to consider attending this concert.

“It is going to be loud but that’s just part of the spiel and fun. [You] probably won’t understand the lyrics, [but] just lose yourself a little bit — it’s a full-body, everything experience. Just be open to that and let it flow into you.”

Big Ups’ album is available on Spotify as well as on their website, the link to which is provided on the ’Sco Facebook page. Tickets are $3 with your Oberlin ID and $8 without, and will be on sale until Tuesday afternoon. “I think it’s probably going to be the best punk show of the semester. You will see some great punk music and are going to see one of the best Oberlin student bands,” Grimm concluded.