There’s always something happening on a Saturday night in downtown Montreal, no matter what your taste in music. Dis-rockers were tying shoe-strings around their heads and lining up for the last day of Varning Fest at Katacombes. Middle-aged rockers waving miniature Quebec flags were chainsmoking outside MTelus waiting for Éric Lapointe. But I was on my way to Foufounes Electriques to join the leagues of super-jacked hardcore bros to hear the heavy New York accents of legends Agnostic Front.
Opening the show was Offside, taking the local slot originally occupied by Cell, who had to drop off the gig. And honestly, their brand of skinhead hardcore was a much better fit for the bill, and they seemed to be a lot more excited for the opportunity to open for their heroes. Their regular crew showed their support by punching the air and shouting the occasional vocal line.
Next was Prong, also from New York. Tommy Victor made his presence known, his guitar squealing on the high end and chugging on the low end. Earlier this year, the band celebrated 25 years of the album Cleansing, and they made sure to inform the crowd of the fact before launching into “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” However, their hardcore-tinged groove metal didn’t inspire much movement from the half-empty pit in front of them, despite Victor’s constant calls for a circle pit. So, the band had to move around themselves to compensate; at one point Victor and bassist Jason Christopher high-fived while their other hand kept picking at their open strings.
The room seemed to fill up as we awaited the Lower East Side veterans, to the point where I was pushed against the wall. The room erupted into cheers as Vinnie Stigma walked onstage, holding his axe high above his head, followed by the rest of the band. Roger Miret waited in the shadows during the instrumental intro, then took to the stage for “The Eliminator.”
My first exposure to Agnostic Front was when I read a gay FanFiction in a punkzine when I had just turned 15 years old. The zine is no longer in my collection, and I haven’t been able to find the piece online, but I remember the author describing Miret’s chest tattoo in meticulous detail as he fantasized being pinned down and pounded to the beat of “United Blood.” I anticipate I’m going to get a lot of flack for writing that, but everyone has their own avenues to discovering music. Mine just happened to be from reading the thoughts of a horny teenager. It definitely changed the way I view hardcore brotherhood. Some may see it as the epitome of masculinity, but I can’t help but notice the homoerotic undertones while watching grown men pressing their sweaty bodies against each other in the moshpit and shouting their favourite lyrics into each other’s faces.
Agnostic Front were celebrating the 35th anniversary of their album Victim in Pain, playing fast numbers like “Your Mistake” and “Fascist Attitudes.” But the band acknowledged that the rest of their discography is just as meaningful to their fans, so they played classics sing-alongs like “For My Family” and my personal favourite, “Gotta Go.” The band also wanted to promote their upcoming album, which will be released in November, by playing a newer track, “Spray Painted Walls.”
The crowd was going absolutely wild, and the pit was a dangerzone. People were flying off the stage, I saw a few faceplants onto the hard floor. On the side of the pit, people were showing off their fresh battle wounds. Miret declared “We don’t do any fucking encores,” promising that we would be satisfied once we heard their finale: an aggressive rendition of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones. But even as they stepped offstage, the crowd continued to scream for more. Miret walked back onstage, pointed to the DJ booth, and said “You were supposed to come in with the music! Now we HAVE to play another.” They figured they might as well test a new tune off their upcoming record on the willing participants, called “Urban Decay.” And we gladly ate it up.
Written by Chris Aitkens
*edited by Danielle Kenedy