What would you do with a long weekend in Montreal? The weather was perfect for a stroll down Ste. Catherine or possibly a quick jaunt up to Schwartz’s. Both good ideas, but when TeenageBottlerocket, The Muffs and The Dwarves are in town the choice is easy. For some it’s a gear up for Rockfest, but for this writer, Pouzza Fest is the seminal punk event for summer, and it comes before the summer even begins.
There were so many acts to see it was hard to decide where to start. At Bar L’Exit we caught most of Shift D’s set before running down to see Lost Love open the show at Foufounes. It was nice to see so many familiar faces bobbing their head to their melodic punk sounds. Members of Plan 37 and The Mad Murdocks held front row positions. Seeing the support between bands is one of the beautiful things about this festival.
Next up, I parted ways with my photographer and took care of business back at L’Exit. I was able to see a good chunk of Back and Forth and Set It Back, who nearly filled the place. Sarah hoofed it over to TRH to see Animal Ethics kill it, playing in the bowl of a skate ramp with two drummers, and followed by Serenity Now!. After meeting up with friends during The Readys’ set back at L’Exit, we parted once more; I could not miss PkewPkewPkew’s fun-filled set at Katacombes, while Sarah followed her heart back to Foufs to see Pup play to a full house. I managed to make it back and grab a cheap beer while watching Pup’s last tunes.
I stayed for a few minutes checking out the softer tones of Fake Problems, then hoofed it back to Katacombes for New York’s Chumped, who were fantastic. I’ll be singing their songs for days. Their music is from the heart, which is clear when they perform. The crowd was getting rowdy as Beach Slang took the stage. I was blown away at how close to the record they sounded. The crowd was rather rowdy, spraying their Pabst and tossing their tall cans. They finished their material and threw in a Replacements cover to the demands of the crowd.
I had promised The Mad Murdocks I would see them play back at L’Exit. It was a relief that I caught them just as they were hitting the stage due to Beach Slang’s early finish. Solids were next, and then it was a walk back down rue Ontario to Katacombes. Solids were by far the best of the night. Their progressive sound is ridiculously full for a two-piece band. With the sounds of Solids fresh in mind, I was out the door with my heart set on seeing Wasted Potential’s all Husker Du set. But as Pouzza tends to do, my mind was changed by two guys on their way in who let me know The Hunters were doing a secret set back inside; I turned around and was not disappointed.
Saturday afternoon I caught the Comedy show BBQ hosted by Gabe Koury, featuring a slew of hilarious comedians from coast to coast. Afterwards I caught Liver at TRH to kick things off musically, while a few of us tried our best on the mini-ramp. Trigger Happy put on a great show that evening at Foufs, but I missed their secret set with ‘WaPo’ that night. I was however lucky enough to see grunge-punk legends The Muffs of L.A. when they played Foufs that night. It meant missing Snacks? across the street at Theatre Ste. Catherine and Direct Hit at Piranha Bar, but it was worth it. It also meant missing Scare play at L’Exit; their sound was clear and they played to a packed house.
Next up was one my favourites, the hard hitting Brutal Youth. I had planned to duck out early and catch the end of Hounds set but I couldn’t pull myself away. Dustin from Wasted Potential was filling in on drums and killing it. Back at L’Exit I was assured Hounds were just as great, as I watched Joey Cape set up for his secret show. I would have also loved to catch Plan 37 and Guerilla Poubelle, but sometimes the night just gets away from you.
Sunday afternoon was spent at Stomp’s Hangover breakfast on the Foufs patio basking in the sunlight with friends and listening to Vancouver’s Jesse Lebourdais. I made my rounds through the merch market, and chatted with bands about their favorite acts over the weekend so far. Jeff Rosenstock was a big hit, as well as Cayetana. I caught Revisionist play their acoustic set from the sidewalk on the at-capacity patio of Katacombes on our way up to the Pabst Stage. We played frisbee and watched Penske File and East End Radicals and got a tan.
The rest of my night was set in stone; though it meant not seeing Condition Oakland, I had to see Wasted Potential knock them dead at Foufs. They were followed by Hashed Out who called up Pat from Hounds to help sing a tune. I stayed for hardcore act Get The Shot and The Holy Mess while Sarah went over to Katacombes. She caught Hugo and his Montreal super-group Powernap and was a part of the slow-motion moshpit.
Pouzza may be a punk festival but it is all about diversity. A great example of diverse acts is The Dwarves and Municipal Waste. Both bands are amazing in their own right and put on a great show. As I write this my body is still screaming from the Municipal Waste and Dwarves mosh pits as the chorus of ‘There Better be Women’ plays over the ‘Wolves of Chernobyl’ guitar. Those not interested in putting themselves through the garbage crusher caught the spectacular two piece pop-punk act Mobina Galore, of Winnpeg. I caught Jesse Lebourdais again to unwind for the night instead of seeing Knapsack, who I’m sure were great too. It seemed there was something for everyone at Pouzza, even if you wanted to just hang out at the kid’s bouncy slide in the park, blowing bubbles. One thing is sure: if you were at a Pouzza event, it was be memorable.
Written by Jarod Semple
Photography by Sarah Semple and Eric Brisson Eric Brisson Photography