Pouzza Fest was a weekend–long punk festival that took over a certain section of the Montreal downtown. The staples of fast food and fast music were ever present during the weekend, and I was lucky enough to have an all-access pass with which to enjoy, and write about, all the debauchery that it had to offer. Here is how my weekend went.
On Friday afternoon, I made my way down to the purchase office to pick up my press pass. Much like the entire weekend, this process was as smooth as greased owl shit. I was in and out in under two minutes. With the bracelet on, I made my way down to Foufounes Electric to have a couple of beers and soak in the crowd. I was immediately swimming in a sea of tattoos and colorful hairdos. People at the surrounding tables were discussing which bands they wanted to see that weekend. Everyone was jovial.
I eventually made my way down to Katacombes to catch Old Wives at 7pm, followed by Make War. The bar was pleasantly packed for both bands, yet only a few of us actually saw both. Most people migrated from show to show without staying in one venue for too long. Since all the venues this year were within a ten minute walking distance of each other, it was easy to do.
After, I went back to Foufs 2.0 to catch Downtown Fiasco, and holy shit was I ever glad I did. They’re a ska band with a larger than life brass section, which added a punch to an otherwise often repetitive genre. Olivier manipulated the trumpet in a way that would have won him a golden one from the devil; it was a stellar performance by those cats.
Another highlight of the night was both Gouge Away and The Bombpops. Both were bordering on the late night at Katacombes, and both were female-fronted four-piece extravaganzas. The Bombpops hit hard with their brand of catchy punk, while both guitarists, Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam, traded off the vocals in an ear-gasmic concoction. I’ll urge you, dear reader, to check ‘em out if you get the chance.
Saturday found me at the free outdoor shows all day long. It was sunny and just the right temperature to sit around, sipping beer and listening to great music. During the early afternoon, there were quite a few parents with children in tow; even after the child-centric show had come and gone. (Yes, you read that right. They had activities and bands to perform just for those punk parents and their progeny.) Even after, when things took a turn towards the more rowdy, there were still kids with big ear muffs glued to their heads, sitting atop their maker’s shoulders, whilst I screamed aloud to the lyrics and chugged rather good beer; the festival was sponsored by Beau’s and La Trou Du Diable, so no shitty swill was going down my gullet!
I stuck around, and moshed along to headliners, The Flatliners, but it was Toronto-based PUP that truly buttered my bread. By the time they were done, there was not a voice that hadn’t been rubbed raw from shouting and jeering while the band hammered through their tight, eclectic tunes. Despite the fact that everyone was rowdy in the pit, we all did it in a kind way. If you fell down, someone was always there to pick you up. If you lost a shoe, someone would hold it up until you came to claim it. If you were crowd surfing, there were no stray fingers sent probing into your butt. Don’t let the leather and mohawks fool you, we punks are a kind bunch.
Sunday was all about the weird guy on stage. During the outdoor show of Morgan, a bluegrass punk band based out of Valleyfield, QC, there was a gentleman dressed in overalls drinking beers and swinging a chainsaw behind the band while he danced like a wild man. Pretty fucking awesome. He also play-fought the washboard player at one point too.
Next up was a small stint at Katacombes to check out Laval, whose front man, Alex Kaluza, could put most anyone to shame with his high-fructose movements. It was also nice to see Preston Ward rocking a bass, instead of just working the door for other people’s shows. He’s gotta be one of the hardest working folks in the Montreal scene.
I ran back to Foufs (the original stage) just in time to catch the bratty bastards of baseball punk, The Isotopes, cavort their way onto stage. These cats captured the soul of the festival so well. They were fast and in your face and didn’t give a shit. Remember my earlier remark about weird stage people? Well, accompanying the band was a man wearing nothing but a jean vest and jock strap. He marched around the stage, swinging a baseball bat around, casually knocking his cock with it, while other times stretching or giving the musicians polite shoulder rubs. It added so much to their show and shtick. If you ever have the chance to catch this band live, you must, if only for the song about the Pirates pitcher throwing a no-hitter on acid, aptly titled, “Operation No-No.”
Back to Kata for W!nslow, who were less pop-punk than advertised. While they did have hints of it, they were harder than I expected, and I automatically began dancing. Bassist Gabriel Koury did a very good job entertaining the crowd between sets as well, spinning stories and interacting with us idiots.
Oh, hello beer garden, my old friend, I came back to you to catch Lagwagon. It had started sprinkling as I wove my way through perhaps ten thousand bodies to make it closer to the stage. The rain dropping through the green lights gave us a visceral visual to go along with the band’s hard hitting style. These cats might have aged over the years, but I detected no arthritis in their wrists.
To close out the show, I was back at Kata. A weekend of exhaustion and good beer was catching up to me by that point, so, sorry, I don’t recall who I saw, just that it was reeeeeeally good.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend. I have to give a massive shout out to the Pouzza staff, especially the volunteers, who made everything run smoothly. No bands that I saw went over set times; the security was professional and nice; the beer, which came with a reusable Pouzza plastic cup, was delicious and cheap; and the price was just right: $115 for a weekend pass.
Let me know about the bands I missed in the comments below, so I know who to check out if they come back next year.
Written by Aaron Deck
Photography by Eric Brisson Photography, Jaime-Antonio Luna
*edited by Kate Erickson