Last Friday (more like FRY day – am I right?! Am I right?!), Montreal hosted the first ever ’77 Festival – a one-day festival organized by Evenko, who selected acts that capture the flavour of the original punk scene back in 1977, as well as bands that represent the iconic Montreal punk scene that has grown over the last forty years.
The sun was angry that day, friends. I think that made a lot of people happy. If the power of the solar rays didn’t burn you, the heat emitting from the stage during the Pale Lips opening performance of the event may have. It probably wouldn’t have, considering the laws of physics; however, disposing of my lame-ass metaphors, we’ll agree that these ladies brought out the punk in spunk, with a sunglass-wearing, attitude-filled performance. While the instrumental section remained rather stationary at their respective areas of the stage, lead vocalist Jackie Blenkarn strutted around with her sassy, bubblegum slither, definitely adding some sex appeal to their cutting originals like “Don’t Take Your Switchblade to New York” and their covers of the (very non-sexual) Ramones.
With only two stages across from each other on the event grounds, it was a day of walking back and forth from stage to stage, and there wasn’t much time to grab a beer or fart up the porta-potty without missing the start of the next band’s set. It truly was non-stop rock for ten straight hours, and then some.
Although there was intensity in Barrasso vocalist Jonathan Beauregard’s singing voice, these guys didn’t offer much stage presence. Unfortunately, they only started showing band cohesion during their last two songs. However, the walking around and laughing with each other didn’t last very long.
Montrealers Genetic Control were outta control. Rockin his Ramones t-shirt and hopping around on stage, frontman Mike Price was charismatic and intriguing to the audience. Belting out hits with that classic raw punk tone, such as “Rockin with Seka” and “Urban Cowboys,” these seasoned dudes showed that punk rock never has to die.
The audience energy was boiling up little by little throughout the first few acts, but there were still a lot of gaps in the crowd. With more people ordering food, beer, and waiting to piss or shit in the minimal supply of porta-potties than there were, moshing and cheering for the performers, it felt at times as if everyone was just there waiting for the headliners to show up. It’s too bad, because The Kingpins, who burst out onto the stage dressed entirely in black suits in the poo-melting heat, were definitely the onset of energetic performances that day, and deserved a few more crowd surfers falling on their buttholes.
While The Kingpins boosted our spirits with their uplifting, saxophone-heavy songs, The Creepshow sucked us right back down into the depths of psychobilly madness. Though they kicked off with an explosion of passion and energy, the issues laid in the mic volumes. For the first few songs, vocalist Kenda Legaspi’s voice was only heard clearly between tracks when she was asking, “What the fuck is up, Montreal?!” Eventually, you could hear the lyrics clearly enough to sing along to such hits as “They All Fall Down” and “Creatures of the Night.
Like the little eleven-year-old watching a slaughtering horror movie with their teenaged cousins, Joyce Manor brought some innocence to the rather vicious ambiance that day. Performing such tracks as “Heart Tattoo” and “Falling In-Love Again,” they provided a calming pop-punk experience to ease the ears for the handful of people watching them play before the very out-of-place and fucking unnecessary performance by Jake Burns, who simply sat alone on a chair on stage telling stories and singing songs like the grandfather or uncle of everyone at the festival.
Next, Madball ripped everyone’s ears and assholes apart. Their performance was easily the talk of the town that day and for days to follow. Introducing the heaviest sound at the festival, Madball and their wild frontman Freddy Cricien tore up the stage, charging around like a caged beast let unleashed. Making the microphone his bitch and throwing it around his head like a lasso, Cricien was a ruthless, metal kick-jumping animal who had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
The Bouncing Souls cordially invited everyone to sing along with them during such hits as “Manthem” and “Driving All Night,” and The Vandals told hilariously immature jokes and performance of “People That Are Going To Hell” and “Live Fast, Diarrhea,” creating a rollercoaster of moods and a confliction of emotions from hugging your neighbor to drop-kicking them down a staircase. However, I’m pretty sure Vandals’ guitarist Warren Fitzgerald was consistently excited all day in his multi-colored blue and red outfit.
If you didn’t catch the Pale Lips’ performance, X vocalist Exene Cervenka brought some of us back to female punk rock, and introduced some of us to it. Celebrating forty years of punk since 1977, this chick looked solid as the three other members in the front stayed very close together during their small-scaled performance that attracted the masses. Nothing too substantial in regards to performance and stage presence, but the sound was fat and the crowd dug it.
Following the Irish music that played prior to Dropkick Murphys hitting the stage, things got bloody as the main events closed in on us. Not coincidentally, as the Dropkick Murphys burned through hit after hit such as “Rose Tattoo,” “Shipping Out to Boston,” and “Blood,” the faces in the crowd were covered in battle wounds. Bagpipes and body bags were going strong (just stretchers, actually).
The crowd got raunchy for Rancid. Though Rancid guitarist Lars Fredericksen did most of the crowd engagement, he and big-beard Tim Armstrong looked like two kids having the time of their lives together. Giving the crowd hits such as “Roots Radical,” “Old Friend,” and “Fall Back Down,” the duo also told stories of their past, and though they closed their set with “Ruby Soho,” the encore chants encouraged them to perform with the expected Dropkick Murphys-Rancid combined show, and they played “I Fought the Law”, “Folsom Prison Blues” and “TNT”, like a fuckin’ bar band.
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson