Ahhhhh Pouzza Fest. Every year, I get excited for the pizza, the music, the amazing people I see once a year at this festival, the returning bands who I have befriended over the years, and the overall amazing spring weather that seems to be around when this festival happens.
There was a little extra something special going on this year during Pouzza Fest. The celebrations of Montreal’s 375th birthday were occurring, so the city was swarming with punks, senior citizens, and children.
I liked the set up of Pouzza Fest this year much more than the previous years, where the extra venue was about a 20 minute walk away. This time, we had two stages at Foufs, the Beer Garden park where all the free shows happened, Katacombes, Cafe Cleopatra, and Theatre St Catherine. All venues were about a five minute walk from each other, so it made it very easy to get around. During the day on Saturday and Sunday there was a baseball tournament between fans, band members, and anyone else who wanted to join at Parc Lafontaine. The weather definitely kept up with us being about 17 degrees celsius and sunny most of the weekend. According to some players I spoke to, the event ended up being very chill with lots of beer drinking, food, and just having a good time. Plus sun burns.
Our first stop Friday evening was Foufs, and we caught pop punk band Binary Heart, then walked over to 2.0 for Canker Blossom. Canker Blossoms are a two-piece consisting of a cute – even seemingly innocent – young lady vocalist on guitars, and a monster on drums. They weren’t my cup of tea, per se, but the crowd was eating it up! Of course I ran back over to check out The Penske File who I think I have now seen four times. They are never disappointing. Everyone knew their songs and sang along; seeing their facial expressions when this happens is priceless. They truly appreciate it.
Mustard Plug and The Slackers were next on my list on Friday with some fun ska. The Slackers played a much more mellow, slow set than what I am used to seeing them play. They are still a bunch of talented dudes and I never feel like I am missing out.
There was one band that I was told by many to check out on Friday. The band is called Gouge Away. I did a poll on my personal Facebook account asking which bands I should check out. One person said Gouge Away, and about seven or eight others mentioned them to me during the festival. So, being the good listener that I am, I ran from The Slackers straight to Katacombes to see this band and see what the fuss was about.
Gouge Away were my highlight of the entire festival. Florida female-fronted hardcore is where it’s at!! They all look about nineteen years old, but these kids can play. Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Gouge Away have been around for about three years and have toured with bands such as Ceremony, Soul Glo and Touche Amore. They have one album out, Dies, and most of the lyrics consist of sensitive topics such as animal rights, pro-feminism etc. My favourite track off the record is “No White Flag” which they did play during this performance. The pit was violent, and the band was adorably shy.
Beautiful sunny Saturday brought us an afternoon of interviews. We met up with artists such as Sammy Kay, An Almighty Trigger Happy, W!nslow, and more. Stomp Records and Fat Wreck publicist Melanie Kaye throws this party every Pouzza for medias and artists to meet.
Saturday was the busiest day, consisting of solo acts by Sammy Kay, Chris Cresswell and Joey Cape, along with hundreds of smaller bands playing, like Elder Abuse, Ship of Fools, Moonraker, Union Jack, and MANY more. What I love about Pouzza is the love for these smaller underground bands. The ironic thing about this year’s festival was that all the headliners were playing for free. I am curious if this was a marketing strategy or what. But it worked. The Beer Garden was packed. Afternoon activities that day included Pouzza Bambino which is a fun time for children. Danny Rebel of Danny Rebel and the KGB performed an adorable set with his daughter, who would occasionally sing “yeah” along with her pops. Matt Collyer of the Planet Smashers and Alex of The Beatdown did a fun set singing classic children’s TV show theme songs like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
The evening ended for me with an epic set from The Flatliners. The Flatliners played a free show to thousands on Saturday night, featuring a few older tracks as well as some new ones from the latest Inviting Light like “Hang my Head” and “Mammals.” After having a few words with Chris Cresswell Sunday night during the Worst Days Down set, he seemed like quite the comic. Maybe we should have him perform some comedy at Gabe’s Pouzza Comedy event next year?
This brings me now into the last day of Pouzza. Having more sleep in me, I was ready for more. The weather didn’t pan out on the last day – there were lots of clouds and light rain by the time Lagwagon hit the Beer Garden stage to end the festival. We made it work.
I started my day with some comedy held at Theatre Ste Catherine, run and hosted by W!nslow vocalist Gabe Khoury. I watched a few comics with my bud Kieron Yates of Bad Feeling Magazine, and Gabe was probably the funniest comic of the bunch. I wasn’t too into it, but I loved the fact they mixed up French and English comedy to cater to both. We are one!
After some food and lots of merch shopping, we watched a few more bands like Kman and the 45s who got the crowd skanking like crazy. It was such a great time. Following them were Philly’s Molly Rythym, who we had the chance to chat with at last years Pouzza fest. Vocalist Elissa Sapp decided to climb some of the ramps, then fell HARD and kept going with a bleeding chin. Now that’s punk rock…eight stitches later my friends.
I ran back to Foufs to watch Worst Days Down, the band we interviewed on Bucketlist Radio last week. They were super fun – and had the support of a few Flatliners members in the crowd. Before I walked in, however, a friend of mine informed me that band Audio Visceral bought sixteen pizzas for their audience right before I ran out to get my own pizza. Now I am a pizza-obsessed fiend, so this totally impressed me and I am sad I missed their set. Nice gesture!
Finally, my night ended with some heavy hardcore punk with friends LAVAL, and W!inslow who were playing a reunion after many years being apart. The sound at Katacombes for this was a little painful to my ears, even with ear plugs. There was a lot of feedback, but still, Laval nailed it so hard, even after being on a small hiatus since November, and W!nslow were a ton of fun. Gabe Khoury mentioned a few times even during this set ( as well as during his comedy routine) that he had some anxiety leading towards this festiva,l but I’ve never seen him so happy until I watched him perform with his homies. The crowd was filled with friends excited to catch this, and they did so well. It was indeed an amazing end to an amazing festival for me once again.
Thanks Pouzza for being so awesome. Until next year!! Stay tuned for some more coverage by Aaron Deck.
Written by Liz Imperiale
Photography by Eric Brisson Photography , Jaime-Antonio Luna, and Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson