There’s nothing more disappointing for a promoter than getting together a killer lineup on a Friday night, finding a venue, getting sponsors together, making sure the bands are on time, and promoting the hell out of the thing, only to have barely anyone show up. Such was the case with Wild Wolf Productions’ punk rock event June 17th at Montreal’s Piranha bar. Maybe it was the threat of rain, maybe it was the five-band lineup that scared people away, or maybe it was just a stroke of shitty luck. Whatever the reason, the showroom was mostly filled with band members and significant others, which was a shame because as I said, the lineup was killer.
The evening kicked off with a different take on the acoustic duo concept. Instead of playing together, Mike Terry of The Jukebox Romantics and Kyle Trocolla of Two Fisted Law took turns playing their own acoustic compositions with the other occasional adding backing vocals. In between songs, the pair would engage the crowd in stories about being on the road in punk rock bands. Though Trocolla seemed to have the stronger voice of the two, Terry held his own, and got the biggest singalong of the set with a song about his dog, “the only thing [he misses] while on the road!” Trocolla’s acoustic guitar was painted black with the words, “Never forget Tony Sly” written across the body in white. I thought it was a nice touch.
The five members of Fightface all kind of look like they’re in their own little world on stage, but they sound like they know what they’re doing. So, there was a weird dichotomy, and it gave them a goofy sort of charm. Musically, the set flowed just as well as any of the other acts, going from song to song almost flawlessly. At times, they would communicate and laugh with each other in between songs seemingly oblivious to the majority of the crowd in front of them. Though, to be fair, as with most of the evening, there wasn’t much of a crowd. They’ve mastered the art of the gang vocal with all five members equipped with microphones and that, along with some awesome synths provided by Dan Ross, served to beef up their horror-themed punk rock sound quite well. The highlight was their minute-long set closer, a song about sharks called “Shark Nation.” It opened with a dizzying bass riff by bassist Kate Erickson and during the tune the band held their hands to their heads like shark fins and yelled, “Shark! Shark! Shark! Shark!” It was so beautifully grindy and out of left field; I couldn’t stop smiling the whole way through.
I’m having trouble remembering if I’ve ever heard a band name fit the style of music the way These Fast Times does theirs. It fits so well. Fast, catchy pop punk about times they’ve spent together. It could literally be the title of their musical. Compared to the rest of the evening’s lineup, their music was the least original, but it was well executed, and the on-stage sense of humour was sincere. They played a song for a friend of theirs, Julia, whom guitarist Thomas Kolofsky declared, “It’s her birthday, and she’s an asshole.” At one point, frontman Jeffrey Vuorela said that they had reached an age where they can no longer play any faster. Also, he was wearing a Pokemon shirt, and I appreciate that. At the end of their set, the crowd wanted an encore. They didn’t play an encore. They should have played an encore.
Point for point, The Scowls were my favourite band of the night. They were celebrating the launch of their latest EP release Gone Too Long, and they were fresh off of a tour. So, they brought their A-game to the Piranha stage. Their music is punchy and intricate, and they had some serious charisma. Singer Nick D. Frenette moves like Iggy Pop and has a voice powerful enough to match. They ripped through a punk as fuck cover of Mumford and Sons’ “I Will Wait,” and the massive instrumental jam between guitarist Jason Harbour, bassist Valerie Trainor, and drummer Luc Lusignon towards the set’s end was the icing on the cake. I highly recommend checking this band out.
The Irish Nails tow that weird line between really melodic and really heavy, really folky and really hardcore. They are not entirely unlike Flogging Molly in their approach. Standing like towers on the stage, they did that super punk rock thing where they wear their guitars down below their balls. They’re good, though, drummer Liam Sullivan stands out in particular as a mountain of rhythm. Set closer “Danny’s Song” was a shredder and a half, and throughout their set, the boys were tight as hell. It’s too bad they didn’t have a full sized crowd to play to, but those who were there did not leave disappointed.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Stacy Basque
*edited by Danielle Kenedy