Pouzza Fest 2017 – Montreal

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Victoria Day, a day where we pay homage to a nineteenth century monarch by taking Monday off work. God bless the Queen. It’s the unofficial kickoff to summer. And if you’re a Montrealer in the least interested in the punk rock scene, for the last 7 years, it’s Pouzza Fest.

Punk is all about being different and shoving your middle finger firmly into the backside of the mainstream. This festival does its best to do the same to the bigger festivals. It takes over a few square blocks of Montreal’s western downtown area, taking over traditional venues like the iconic Foufounes Electriques and the less traditional Cafe Cleopatre, Montreal’s favorite place to mess around with gender roles. The are smaller acoustic shows in the backrooms of pubs and even stand up comedy if you need a change of pace. Also, i didn’t witness a single selfie all weekend, not a one. And to be truly different, the main stage is free, yup, free. The bands most people come for are free, outside in the sunshine, where even kids are welcome, and there were lots of them!

The most daunting thought when looking at the schedule is “how am I going to take all of this in?” You’re faced with dilemmas between old punk stalwarts that are reliable and deliver the goods over and over and up and coming bands offering new thrills. I’ve decided that rather than divide this review into days or venues, I’m going to talk about my revelations first, followed by the veterans.

First up though, punk rock yoga. Now a tradition, what better way to limber up for a day of moshing and venue hopping than some morning stretches with a guy in a mohawk and painted nails? Namaste and oi oi oi rolled up into one.

Appearing on the mains stage, this was my first opportunity to see Iron Chic out of Long Island. Their high energy set was a perfect energy to say goodbye to the sunlight on Saturday night.

For those into the heavier side of anarchy, locals LΛVΛL tore through the Katacombes. It was one of the more mosh worthy affairs of the weekend.

Back from last year, Boston’s In The Meantime offered both an acoustic and an electric set. Both of which were worth a look. One of their members become a transplanted Montrealer, I’m sure we’ll see plenty more of these Mass boys.

This was my first time witnessing the chaos which is France’s Tagada Jones. I never saw the french language as something that would translate well to high octane punk. On this evening I was glad to be proven wrong. It was one of the highlights of the weekend and one of the more raucous crowds.

Veterans the Flatliners put on a great set, but as the crowd grew with the later acts, the sound was not up to the task of covering a large outdoor audience, a phenomenon that also plagued Lagwagon. One of my few complaints about the event, along with the lack of actual poutine-pizza hybrid. Still the Toronto rockers delivered a great set. For those who ventured out to Foofs early the same night, singer Chris Cresswell also offered a great acoustic set.

The highlight came late in the evening on Sunday night. The Real McKenzies delivered their usual brand of Scottish punk to a jam packed Foofs. Whatever energy was left from the weekend, the crowd left there on the floor.

And on the fourth day, Queen Victoria declared “let the punks rest.” And rest they did. God bless the Queen for that.


Review – Richard Brunette
Photos – Kieron Yates

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