This past weekend, Montreal gave some of it’s best clubs over to the almighty punk rock fest Pouzza for the fourth year running. Strong rain fall started the weekend on the wet side, but that didn’t kill the spirit of all the punks and punk-on-lookers who take it all in and moshed through the misery of soggy socks. The festival hosted over 200 acts and it would have been impossible to catch them all, but free outdoor stages set up in parks through out the day time certainly made it easier to grab a bagel and see an acoustic set at 2:00pm in the afternoon, while conserving energy for the rambunctious evening shows.
New Jersey’s The So So Glo’s lived up to their reputation and delivered an energetic set. Their pop punk hit “Son of an American” grabbed the attention of the MTV crowd, and the young audience enjoyed every second of it. The same crowd also went nuts for The Front Bottoms, the Garden State quartet hedged closer towards folk-emo-punk territory, but nonetheless broke into the new pop punk scene.. The band tapped into a moment of irony in La Belle Province with their track “Au Revoir”, the lyrics mocking a girl who doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase. The best part of this performance was when Craig Finn from The Hold Steady joined the group on stage to sing with the band. Unfortunately, the younger demographic of the crowd were unfamiliar with the notorious bandleader. The Hold Steady did not get the reception befitting their legendary punk rock hero status, though there were some loyal fans. The band was fantastic and performed with love and enthusiasm, the show was a great addition to a colourful weekend that was a mix bag of punk rock offspring’s.
Night Birds are a definite buzz band, and they did not disappoint their new followers. Their early set proved New Jersey homegrown talent can deliver stellar bass and a crazy ass front man who kept the packed, sweaty group on their toes. As loud and as aggressive as one would expect at such a festival.
Candian pop punk legends, Chixdiggit, brought their legendary comic ways to Montreal with them. Witty banter between members did not over shadow the fact that though it’s been over twenty years since the band started, they still know how to play their way into the hearts of audience. Everyone in the club was singing along and jumping up and down towell-known classics “I Wanna Hump You” and “Chupacabra”.
CJ Ramone, the last Ramone to join the band in 1989 played a darling set of Ramones songs, including a few love songs, that according to him, were never played live since Joey wrote them about Jonny’s wife. “Judy is a Punk”, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and “I Wanna be your Boyfriend” were just a few songs that warmed the nostalgic fans, as CJ peppered a few tracks from his own material, specifically “3 Angels”, a song written about the fallen Ramones, Joey, Jonny and Dee Dee. The set came to a perfect close with a cover of Motorhead’s “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.”
Toronto’s The Flatliners played to a young and vivacious group, as the mosh pit swirled and stage divers risked concussions in the biggest venue of the festival. Great lighting, great fans and a great set, the boys from “down the street brought” it home with no apology. The one-hour set pummeled and uplifted the spirits of the entire room.
Laura Stevenson, an alumnus of cult heroes Bomb the Music Industry! played a late night set at the ironically named bar “Underworld”, tucked away at the top of a never-ending staircase. Despite a few technical difficulties, her bright smile and folk sounds blew everyone away. One of the few female folk punk singers (maybe the only) who can smile her way and sing almost-country songs like “Peachy” and “The Healthy One” and still incite a ferocious mosh pit.
The weekend took a lot out of everyone, and the quantities of poutine, PBR and Red Bull consumed remains incalculable, but this is a gem of a festival has earned itself a mainstay status for locals and border-hoppers alike.