Montreal, May 24th, 2019
Day three; the hardest day to get up out of bed after two packed days of amazing bands. If you managed to wake up early, which we completly failed at, you would have noticed that the weather wasn’t very encouraging, especially if you had partied too hard. Lets be honest here, Montreal’s weather so far this year has been bloody atrocious. An insult to summers past. A mockery of the sunshine and good vibes we are so accustomed too here. If you had managed to get more than a couple hours of sleep, you probably made it out to the Foufs for the merch mall that took place before noon. It helps fans and bands alike get some last minutes deals on leftover merch you may have missed out on. We didn’t. Then again, we did spend way more than the budget allocated on booze and records. So, you know, we’re good on that end.
As two o’clock rapidly approached, the blue sky began peeking out from the storm clouds, giving us hope for a dry day. Slowly the fans started crawling out from where they had passed out the night before. The beer stage had large inflatable pillows this year to provide a little more comfort for adults and all that brought their kids. Although, if you weren’t the early worm, all of these luscious bags of comfort were usurped by others in an equal or worse state that we. This was the case, and some of the slumbering pillow loafers certainly looked as if they had spent the night on the fields before these puppies appeared and gave them something less harsh on their bones.
Beginning the day off, for us at least, were The Hangers. A group from Montreal, that play a fusion of Blues, Rock and Reggae which was sort of the raison d’etre of the day, and exactly the way to kick off a rough, groggy Sunday party with. Despite the overcast skies, many were sporting sunglasses I assume to shield any sun that may have been out from permeating their brains. Hairs of the dogs that bit them all the night before in hand, some, quite a few actually, took to the dance floor for a quick jig. That’s the thing, you see, when your festival serves you up quality beers from Beaus and Trou Du Diable instead of the chemical swill that most corporate sponsors force on the majority of music festivals, you tend to pound them back a little more. I, for one, certainly wouldn’t have drank half as much Coors. Sorry Coors. Not Sorry.
The Peelers proudly took to the stage next, on a day that had a rather Celtic flavoring to it. Whether or not it was planned that, it was a solid line-up. The Mahones were back in town for a set later in the day, too. After eighteen years, The Peelers, like The Mahones, have influence the genre heavily, evolving to be two of the most known traditional Celtic punk acts in Canada. In the lead-up to their set, chatter amongst the media types in the photo pit in front of the stage was its usual jokes and nonsensical chatter that anybody that’s ever spent time in fully understands. One photographer expressed to another that he hoped the guy in the kilt, Nelson Stewart – the accordion player, wasn’t planning on pulling off any jumpshots. Stewart overheard and confirmed indeed he was bare beneath, as the tradition requires, and that there were would indeed be jumps for us. He laughed. We laughed. And we collectively hoped he kept his junk to himself, and thankfully did. Given the success of bands like Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys, its hard to believe The Peelers don’t enjoy more fanfare than they do. They’re a fun bunch with some rollickin’ good tunes, rampant with tin flute, fiddle and accordion. Songs about being on the pish and the likes. What isn’t to like!
Danny Rebel And The KGB are certainly no strangers to Pouzza, yet I have a unreal talent when it comes to missing their sets. Never once was that on purpose, it was just the way of things. Was. If you read our review of day two, you’ll know that we also missed Danny Rebel’s solo act for the kids. This was the day I finally caught a KGB concerto in the park. Off the bat, the great vibes that emanate from the strings of Danny’s guitar, paired with his great voice, ensure that feet are moving. The KGB play reggae of the finest order and if you’re not having fun at their shows, quite simply, you’re allergic to fun. Rebel is often just hanging out in crowds, with his mega-dreads curled up on his head, signature lime green glasses perched on his nose, just soaking in the sounds, and enjoying the sunlight – and that is the same feeling he gives off while performing, too. My ol’ man was big into Ska, Rocksteady and Bluegrass so the soothing sounds that the KGB put out are a comfortable throwback for me.
Speaking of Danny Rebel; he painted the artwork that is used on the newest K-Man And The 45’s LP. titled “Stand With The Youth”. The beer garden was full of friends and family brought together today as K-Man And The 45’s kicked it up a notch. With heavy hearts, the crowd doubled to be there in support. Dealing with their toughest year so far, and having to accept far too much loss for any one band… ever, including but not limited to the tragic demise of the groups drummer, Brian Mac Smith, all too quickly to cancer. Talking to singer Kristen after the set, the only way they could stay sane is to keep going, making music and to do it as Brian wished they would. The fans did their best to keep spirits high as they danced, skanked and sang along. Only a few weeks ago, they released the second full length album on Stomp Records, but the reaction to newer songs was as if it had been out for years. Given some extra time to do as many songs as possible, glasses were raised to Brian along with having his bike displayed on stage, a fitting tribute to a great guy. Truly one of the nicest people you could have ever met. Only the good die young, they say.
The Gutter Demons were up next, playing their final show with their current drummer who steps aside to concentrate on familly life. Can’t fault that. These three Demons played a signature psychobilly set and as usual, upright bassist, Flipper, was full of energy, attitude and facial expressions. There’s always been a sort of Motorhead like deliverance to their music, especially in Johnny Toxik’s vocals, without really playing the same genre, and their cover on “Damage Case” on their most record really cements their sound.
We mentioned The Mahones earlier, the kings and queens of Celtic punk and the main band that The Dropkick Murphy’s and such nod to as being their main inspiration – Finny and company have been revolutionizing rock music since he left Ireland for England and then Canada. Katie Kaboom on the accordion and Sean Riot (of Irish Nails fame) ere as high energy as I’ve ever seen from The Mahones. Like The Peelers, I don’t understand how these folks are not on par with the Murphy’s and the ilk – those bands wouldn’t exist without The Mahones. What can you do? Often times, those that deserve the limelight get ignored for the flavors of the day.
Subb‘s first show in who knows how long took place at Pouzza, and it seems the band is ready to return and tour again. Good news if you’re a fan of Montreal-style Ska (who isn’t amiright?). Playing tracks off their entire discography, Subb were a highlight for older Ska fans who remember then from their hayday.
Of course, most of the people now solidly packing out the park where there to party with the kind of party, Andrew WK! The man who exploded onto the rock music scene in the 90’s, by kicking himself in the nose, and has been promoting partying, and pizza, ever since. His music might be the closest thing left to resemble arena rock, and it cheesy on purpose but fantastic fun too. In his signature white garb, that glowed pink under the stage lights, WK belted out all the sing-along hits that the crowd had come to hear and they left satisfied, and probably all partied out. Classics like “I Get Wet”, “Party Hard” and, of course, “She Is Beautiful” – which had the women in the crowd screaming along at the tops of their lungs! What a way to close the main stage down for the year.
As was the case on Saturday, your late night entertainment was a frustratingly tough call between great bands playing identical time slots at venues that ensured that you couldn’t catch a taste of both. Lets face it, the Fouf and the Turbohaus are far apart when it comes to late staggering distances. In fact, we avoided the Turbohaus all weekend long for that very reason. The huge downside to this was that we were unable to catch Oktoplot Saturday night and, even more frustratingly unable to catch one of Canada’s Punk pioneers, The Nils, either. Given the history and longevity of The Nils and their forty years as a band, I am surprised that a beer garden time slot couldn’t have been worked in for them. Both nights the choice came down to which was closer to the night bus home.
By the time we found our way to the Fouf, The Penske File had already started and I found myself a seat on the couch at the back of the top floor of the venue, where, ashamedly through exhaustion, I slipped off into sleep. Awaking in time to hear the band telling the audience how their van had been broken into, which has been a signature of the city of Montreal in recent times, and something we should all be fucking ashamed of. Perhaps I was only half-woken though, because the full extent of the story hadn’t quite hit me. Their van wasn’t just broken into, somebody had stolen the entire vehicle, their gear and personal belongings. It takes a special sort of scum to rob another person, and an even slimier type of degenerate to rip off a working bands livelihood. I hope whoever is responsible suffers the shits for the rest of his or her remaining, miserable life. There’s a GoFundMe page set up for them, if you can spare a few coppers!
Night Birds came on next and played possibly the greatest set of the weekend. The whole weekend! Do you know how bands played? Yeah! They were that good. Perched on the edge of the balcony, covered in some clowns spilt Red Bull, that I secretly hoped would secrete into my skin and give the wakefulness to finish off the night, and I think it did. That’s probably a load of bollocks so lets move on. Right. So anyway, Nights Birds are a group I am not familiar with but following their set, I swear to be up on my knowledge for their next go around. Much of their music seemed influenced by one of my all-time favorite groups – the legendary Agent Orange. Surf punk with an American 80’s hardcore feel to it. Up. My. Alley.
As late as it was, the buzz was going around to stay for a band called Pears. A trio from New Orleans (#WhoDat) that had small beginnings but gained quick recognition getting signed to Fat Wreck Chords. Having caught all of their four performances in La Belle Province (well, the 514 anyway) it was great to see how many people came out this time. They quite literally have played to a room containing three people before now, which is criminal. Zach Quinn, the lead singer, has an unmatchable stage presence which is a mix of raw energy and an added flare of chaotic dancing, odd poses and plenty of “what the fuck is he doing?” moments. Getting on stage he asked at some point: “Who watches Game Of Thrones? D’on’t be shy” a few hands went up, though I’m sure people were hiding since they did hint they might reveal some spoilers. He then proceeded to poke fun, and exclaim “I saved several years of my life not watching, you guys are boring”; a song off the first album “Go To Prison”. It got crazy in the mosh pits, as Pears play some hard hitting hardcore tunes, and in an instant, one guy decided it would be a good idea to stage dive backwards off the stage following a quick hugging of Quinn, landing him on the back of his head as he jumped into an empty space and hit concrete. Foufs was sent into a panic when people realized he was injured, and a chilly silence hummed over the crowd as friends of the splattered punk cried for somebody to call an ambulance. It looked really, really bad for the youth who was obviously unconscious and facedown on the ground. What seemed like a couple of minutes passed before he awoke and he went to speak to the paramedics that had arrived. Later confirmed he was going to be alright, Quinn said “Don’t be like him and jump into nothing”. Get this, though! The guy came back, moshed up a storm which prompted Quinn to offer him a song request. His request turned out to be an album instead of a song. So perhaps he should have sat out the remainder of the set after all.
The series finale of Game Of Thrones was being at the same time so to have so many people out at Pouzza was an awesome feat. And I must thank Quinn and the Pears lads for not fucking up eight years of Game Of Thrones for me.
Somehow we made it to the night bus that took us to another night bus and a long ass stagger home. We were offered LSD from some unsavory looking characters that were also waiting for that bus, and seriously digging an extra large order of McDonald’s fries (Nasty fuckers). Straight to bed, despite secret shows still going off all over the city, Pouzza fest was a fantastic time once again. While sat at the bus stop, soaked in all manner of fluids – that sinking feeling struck us, it was already over for another year. We’re still jonesing for more, more, mooorrreee!!
Written by Samantha Morris, photos by Kieron Yates and Samantha Morris