After spending the night freezing and listening to some chick screaming all night long, we woke up to the unrelenting sun heating up Tent City as if it were an anthill under a magnifying glass. Already sweating and stinky, we headed to the lovely collection of porta-potties to take a hooker shower, then made our way once again to Montebello’s downtown core.
The streets were already buzzing with people, the depanneur, the grocery store, and the bank had hour-long lines that were only getting longer. This dirty, little smoker right here ended up waiting an hour and a half to buy a few packs of smokes.
Anti-flag opened Saturday’s onslaught of musical mayhem. Do these guys even age? I was fourteen or fifteen when I was introduced to the band’s Die For Your Government, and the members look identical to how they did 15 years earlier. With a musical career spanning over twenty years, you’d expect these guys to have a rockstar attitude, but when we spoke with them later in the day, they were as humble and as grateful as could be– opening the place for a serious heart-to-heart with both Justin Sane and Pat Thetic.
The poli-punk group played a short set that I wished had gone longer, but the most memorable songs by far were “Die For Your Government” and “Fuck Police Brutality.”
Following Anti-flag on the Loto-Quebec stage was ‘the best cover band of the festival,’ Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Fronted by Spike Slawson of Swingin’ Utters, this punk rock supergroup also includes Fat Mike of NOFX and Joey Cape of Lagwagon. I’ve been lucky enough to catch these guys multiple times and their live set never disappoints. Between Spike’s frontman jiggles and wiggles across the stage and the hard-as-hell covers of well-loved tunes like Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” and R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” the Gimme Gimmes are a stand-up performance.
There were a few strange lineup selections during this year’s Rockfest weekend. One of them was hiring Black Flag to play on Friday without Henry Rollins, and then having Rollins perform on Saturday without any band at all– he actually awed the audience with a touching and, as usual, intellectual ‘sermon.’ Talking to others that caught the performance, the opinions were mixed; some praised Rollins for his political and social insight, while others were interested in seeing a musical set.
I was fortunate enough to catch Lagwagon’s set from the raised patio of the Auberge Montebello since they played smack in the middle of the designated ‘interview time’ from 2pm-5pm. With an Octane (one of the weekend’s top sponsors) in hand, I made myself comfortable along the ledge of the patio and let the poetry of Joey Cape wrap me in lyrical goodness. Lagwagon’s live set is always impressive and Saturday’s set was no different, finishing the set that I wished was longer with “Violins,” “May 16,” and “Razor Burn.”
You may wonder how Cypress Hill fit into the mix with all of the pop, punk, and metal bands seemingly running the show. I actually can’t answer that for you. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a special kinda sumthin’ sumthin’ when this band performs, they’re just not my thing. It didn’t stop me from grooving to the tunes of “Insane in the Brain,” “I Wanna Get High,” and “Hits From the Bong.”
Taking a washroom break, I waited in line amongst other hotel guests. Starting up a convo with the new drummer of the Planet Smashers, we shared a moment. Not just any moment. Waiting in line to use the washroom, the one, the only, Joan Jett walks by in the hallway. Say what? Ms. Joan Jett is easily the smallest powerhouse of a woman I have ever seen, and about an hour later, we watched her set on the Jagermeister stage from the hotel poolside (yeah, I’m rubbing it in). There’s something special about an entire pool full of people singing along to “Cherry Bomb,” and watching, mesmerized, as Jett continued her set into the unmistakable “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Crimson and Clover.”
Unfortunately, I missed Bigwig because of a stage misunderstanding, and that was probably the biggest downer of the entire weekend. Luckily, Reel Big Fish played their biggest hit, “Beer,” as well as a cover of Sublime’s “Garden Grove” and a-Ha’s “Take On Me” on the Tony Sly stage. Immediately after, The Vandals ripped into their special brand of punk rock and hilarity, beach balls floating in the air alongside empty beer cans and water bottles.
The headliner of the night was Motley Crue. Yes, that Motley Crue. You know, the one with *blush* … Nikki Sixx. Sadly, I think the best part of the band’s performance was staring at Nikki Sixx from afar and thinking about how he’s the hottest almost-sixty year old alive. Fan favourites like “Too Fast for Love” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” got the crowd dancing up a storm, but by the second song in, it looked as if Vince Neil was going to keel over in cardiac arrest. Gladly, he did make it to the end of the set, but I have a stinking suspicion that he was lip-syncing throughout the performance.
Now hear this. I commend pretty much any band that gets up on stage and plays in front of a live audience, putting themselves in front of critics and media types like myself. ALL weekend, I was looking forward to what was being advertised as the ‘No Use For A Name Tribute.’ Tony Sly (RIP) is an intrinsic part of the person that I am today. Since many of the bands who participated in the Tony Sly Tribute Album were performing at the weekend’s festival, I assumed that this tribute would bring together the bands from the album in a touching memorial set. We waited… and waited… and waited until 1:30am for the tribute to begin, only to find out that it was actually Montreal’s NUFAN Tribute Band playing NUFAN covers to one of the smallest crowds that I saw in the weekend. Needless to say, about 45 seconds into the band’s cover of “On The Outside,” we turned around, headed back to Tent City and passed out almost immediately.