Pouzza Fest 8 By Matty Weaver

Pouzza Fest 8

Pouzza Fest 8, Montréal, QC, 18/05/2018 – 20/05/2018

BAND REVIEW SUMMARY

FRIDAY, MAY 18TH
Laureate @ Katacombes
Taking Meds @ Foufounes Électriques
Oh My Snare! @ Fouf’s 2.0
Timeshares @ Fouf’s 2.0
Ramona @ Théâtre Ste-Catherine
Tsunami Bomb @ Foufounes Électriques
Such Gold @ Foufounes Électriques
Junior Battles (cover set) @ Théâtre Ste-Catherine

SATURDAY, MAY 19TH
Jason Guy Smiley @ Katacombes
Stay Inside @ Fouf’s 2.0
Lost Love @ Jardin des bieres
Ellen And The Degenerates @ Foufounes Électriques
Typesetter @ Fouf’s 2.0
Wine Lips @ Théâtre Ste-Catherine
The Penske File @ Katacombes

SUNDAY, MAY 20TH
Nervous Dater @ Katacombes
Hard Pass @ Katacombes
Face To Face @ Jardin des bieres
Slingshot Dakota @ Fouf’s 2.0
Good Looking Friends @ Café Cléopâtre

As a longtime promoter, venue operator, and (Gainesville) Fest attendee, my first year at Pouzza Fest felt monumental. My friends had spoken of how bands ripped gigs harder in Montréal, and based on how many songs I knew titled “Montréal,” how could it be anything but true? When the photographer Lorien Lamarr (better known as Aretesophist Photography) approached me about writing about my Pouzza experience, I jumped at the chance to watch bands and jot down my thoughts on their performances, as well as the Pouzza experience as a whole. Many thanks to Razorcake for giving us the opportunity!

In its eighth year of operation, Pouzza Fest knows what it’s doing, and it knows what the fans want. From headliners like Reel Big Fish and Tsunami Bomb to smaller regional acts like Pseudo and Bucky Harris, there’s something for everyone at the festival. For those who get overwhelmed by the constant gigs, Pouzza also offers a wide range of comedy showcases, acoustic shows, baseball games, and family-friendly shows at the Les Jardin des Bieres, an outdoor park that was free for non-attendees to wander in and discover something new about the Montréal music scene.

Seeing roughly twenty bands in three days gave me a lot to write about, but most importantly, it gave me an opportunity to bond with like-minded individuals that who cared about something bigger than drinking beer while a punk band played. Namely, the festival gave a platform to bands like Stay Inside, Typesetter, and Slingshot Dakota, whose songs often deal with what it’s like to be queer, non-white, and non-men in a society dominated by racism and patriarchy.

The reviews here will hopefully serve as a guide to some of the amazing acts to perform at Pouzza Fest this year, but they most certainly do not encompass everything the festival has to offer. You can check out the official Pouzza Fest website for a detailed schedule if you’re interested in discovering new bands; with nearly one hundred unique punk, alternative, acoustic, and comedic acts on the bill this year, you will certainly find something you love.

POUZZA FEST DAY ONE, 18/05/2018

Pouzza Fest 8

LAUREATE: at KATACOMBES, POUZZA FEST, 18/05/2018
There’s no better way to kick off a festival than with a powerhouse local band, and native Montréalers Laureate did not disappoint the Pouzza crowd. Outstandingly creative in their songwriting, they embodied their namesake fully as they moved around the stage, wreathed in the unique lighting of Katacombes. Channeling ‘00s era Hopeless Records acts, Laureate got the crowd moving early and helped build the energy for the rest of the weekend.

Pouzza Fest 8

TAKING MEDS: at FOUFOUNES ÉLECTRIQUES, POUZZA FEST, 18/05/2018
It is impossible to fully encapsulate the hybrid of start-stop post-punk of the ‘90s, melodic alternative rock of the ‘00s, and riffy emo of the ‘10s that is Taking Meds, and anyone attempting to put the band into a box should recall that once Pandora’s Box is opened, it cannot be closed. That said, if you turned off your ears and watched the band take the stage at Foufounes, you’d still be able to hear everything. As the first real “heavy” set of Pouzza, the band had a lot to live up to. The crowd was dancing and shoving within minutes of the first bass lines being ripped, and that momentum carried until the last notes rung out.

Pouzza Fest 8

OH MY SNARE!: at FOUF’S 2.0, POUZZA FEST, 18/05/2018
Oh My Snare! Is a Pouzza staple, and it’s not just because they’re local to Montréal. The band has the ability to capture a room with its stage presence; somewhat calm one moment and frenetic the next. On one of the smaller stages of the festival, the band seemingly occupied the entire space, with the crowd locking arms and throwing their heads back with every screech of the guitar and tapping of the keyboard.

Pouzza Fest 8

TIMESHARES: at FOUF’S 2.0, POUZZA FEST, 18/05/2018
A strongly worded opinion: the alternative orgcore-dominated punk festival circuit would not exist as it does today without bands like Timeshares. Fast and furious even when they’re playing a slow jam, Timeshares is the band that encompasses “I just wanna scream and crowd surf with my best friends” pop punk, which makes festivals like Pouzza such a blast to attend. When a video camera pans over a crowd for a retrospective, it wants to capture the energy that Timeshares exudes: powerful, pure, fun as heck.

Pouzza Fest 8

RAMONA: at THEATRE STE-CATHERINE, POUZZA FEST, 18/05/2018
If Pouzza Fest gave away awards to bands for their performances, Ramona would win the Best Dressed and Greatest Uniform category. Wearing track suits they had specially made after a merch incident involving a bad shipment to Alaska, the band rocked one of the smallest stages at the festival with their poppy blend of riffy punk rock, complete with a cover of “Fat Lip” by Sum 41. If that’s not completely on brand, I’m not sure what is.

Pouzza Fest 8

TSUNAMI BOMB: at FOUFOUNES ÉLECTRIQUES, POUZZA FEST, 18/05/2018
With Tsunami Bomb’s reunion in 2015, it was inevitable that they would end up at Pouzza, which has a knack for scooping up headliners that make other festivals jealous. Putting the band on a smaller indoor stage at Foufounes Eléctriques as opposed to the larger outdoor stage was an excellent choice, allowing the room to fill with excited fans and make the scene feel more intimate. Jamming new and old songs alike, the band danced around the stage and the crowd moved with them, entranced by the vocal stylings of Kate Jacobi and Oobliette Sparks. It was a homecoming of sorts for the older crowd that saw the band perform in the early ‘00s.

Pouzza Fest 8

SUCH GOLD: at FOUFOUNES ÉLECTRIQUES, POUZZA FEST, 18/05/2018
No band makes a crowd move harder than Such Gold. With the start of every powerful riff, someone leapt from stage to crowd; with every stop, the hole in the center of the crowd grew smaller, until folks were dancing shoulder-to-shoulder, unencumbered by the day’s weight on their shoulders as they watched the final band of the night.

Pouzza Fest 8

JUNIOR BATTLES: at THEATRE STE-CATHERINE, POUZZA FEST, 18/05/2018
No one does Canadian punk quite like Junior Battles and the first secret set of the Pouzza weekend allowed the band to channel their unique energy into something everyone loves: ‘90s and ‘00s alt-rock songs that people only know the chorus to. Jamming tracks like Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie” and The Wallflowers’ “One Headlight,” Junior Battles followed up their earlier set and delivered something nigh unforgettable; the perfect nightcap on top of an excellent first day of Pouzza Fest.

POUZZA FEST DAY TWO, 19/05/2018

JASON GUY SMILEY: at KATACOMBES, POUZZA FEST, 19/05/2018
There is nothing better than kicking off a long Saturday at a festival with a pineapple filled with rum. Jason Guy Smiley’s gruff acoustic punk has become synonymous with the laissez-faire lifestyle of drinking out of fruit, covering The Front Bottoms, and wearing shirts too bright for this world. What festivals like Pouzza get right is the need for relaxation before, during, and after the major festivities, and nothing beats a cozy day on a patio with friends, songs, and drinking something fruity out of a pineapple.

STAY INSIDE: at FOUF’S 2.0, POUZZA FEST, 19/05/2018
Another strongly worded opinion: Stay Inside had the best set of Pouzza Fest. The Fouf’s 2.0 stage had been put through the ringer on Friday evening, having to deal with back-to-back sets by Junior Battles and Timeshares. Nothing prepared the festival crowd for a melodic post-hardcore set that had amps falling off of the stage, microphones flying into the crowd, and an entire set of strings ripped from a guitar during the band’s final crescendo. A chaotic set is a delicate dance, and Stay Inside were the experts.

Pouzza Fest 8

LOST LOVE: at JARDIN DES BIÈRES, POUZZA FEST, 19/05/2018
Lost Love get a lot of credit for being native Montréalers and Pouzza Fest organizers but their sound and stage presence is what makes them a Pouzza force to be reckoned with. The large outdoor stage on the sunniest day of the weekend was the perfect backdrop for the band, giving them space to move. The laid back feel of the outdoor space matched the band’s tone perfectly, and it was pretty amazing to see families with small children (wearing proper hearing protection, of course!) dancing along with punks in denim vests.

Pouzza Fest 8

ELLEN AND THE DEGENERATES: at FOUFOUNES ÉLECTRIQUES, POUZZA FEST, 19/05/2018
If Pouzza Fest wants to go with the award categories, here are some more that Ellen And The Degenerates could easily win: Best Dance Moves, Highest Energy. Everyone’s toes were tapping to the upbeat guitar riffs and when the breakdowns hit, people were locking arms and spinning in time instead of moshing, which is Ellen’s appeal to a tee: you can throw back your head, scream, spin, and twist to hardcore without feeling like you have to slam dance. Rest assured, no matter how wild the crowd gets, they will always be outdone by frontwoman Elena Barrio, the real master and commander of stage performance.

Pouzza Fest 8

TYPESETTER: at FOUF’S 2.0, POUZZA FEST, 19/05/2018
Time conflicts are the hallmark of all musical festivals, but what fests like Pouzza get right is the art of the secret set. When a band like Typesetter is on your bill, giving them a second time slot is never a bad idea, as you know both will be packed to the gills with diehard fans and curious onlookers alike. The band rocked the tiny Fouf’s 2.0 stage back and forth, attracting an equal amount of fist pumps and nodding heads as the band played hit after hit after hit.

Pouzza Fest 8

WINE LIPS: at THEATRE STE-CATHERINE, POUZZA FEST, 19/05/2018
One of the cooler aspects of Pouzza is how wildly varied the punk tunes were from venue to venue. Moving from a light-hearted pop punk set to the Wine Lips, it was almost as if we were thrust into a different festival. Residing somewhere between Thee Oh Sees and The Hives, Wine Lips was relentless in its approach to upbeat alt punk, captivating the small crowd of Theatre Ste-Catherine with their frenetic movements around the stage.

Pouzza Fest 8

THE PENSKE FILE: at KATACOMBES, POUZZA FEST, 19/05/2018
During the entire weekend, there were only two times that a venue had a line to get in, and both were at Katacombes. On Saturday, it was for The Penske File, another Canadian punk staple closing out Saturday night. Hot on the heels of a new record, the set was weighted in favor of the newer tracks. You know that you have released an amazing record when the crowd knows every beat and every word of an album you released only a few weeks prior. Stage dives and high fives were rampant, and the wide grins on the Penske boys’ faces showed that they were just as stoked to play as the crowd was to listen.

POUZZA FEST DAY THREE, 20/05/2018

Pouzza Fest 8

NERVOUS DATER: at KATACOMBES, POUZZA FEST, 20/05/2018
Bittersweet is the first set on the last day of a festival, and bittersweet is the name of Nervous Dater’s game. Twinkling guitars and lyrics both sung and screamed were met with enthusiasm from the crowd, most of whom knew every word. Nervous Dater may have opened the venue for the day but the feelings from their set persisted in the space well into the evening, and former strangers in the crowd bonded over the band’s ability to play sad tunes in an upbeat way.

Pouzza Fest 8

HARD PASS: at KATACOMBES, POUZZA FEST, 20/05/2018
Another Brooklyn act and a perfect complement to the opener of Katacombes, Hard Pass gave life to songs from their most recent EP to a patient and adoring crowd. Combining twinkly indie rock guitar stylings with shouted and crooned vocals, the crowd watched and swayed in time, pausing when the music stopped, only to surge forward a moment later when lyrics like, “When the espresso maker broke,” were belted out loud.

Pouzza Fest 8

FACE TO FACE: at JARDIN DES BIERES, POUZZA FEST, 20/05/2018
Closing out Pouzza Fest 8 on the main stage to an opening salvo of air raid sirens and chants of “One, two, three, four,” Face To Face rocked for over an hour, giving thanks and praise to the Pouzza crowd between hits. The crowd was just as thankful, the entire front of the stage surging forward with every shout. After a brief encore where over a dozen people emerged from side stage to sing along, Face To Face said farewell to the Pouzza weekend with flashing lights and screams of joy.

Pouzza Fest 8

SLINGSHOT DAKOTA: at FOUF’S 2.0, POUZZA FEST, 20/05/2018
Quite possibly the hardest working two-piece in the punk/alternative scene, Slingshot Dakota’s dancey piano-drum combo is the exact recipe you want on a bill like Pouzza. Their songs are uplifting and easy to sing along to, everything is danceable, and it’s impossible not to smile with every tap of the keys. Nearing the end of the night, Slingshot Dakota breathed new life into the weekend, and even shared the meaning behind an important song, talking about how it’s important to give women equal attention and respect for contributing to the modern punk scene. Slingshot Dakota’s music has always been about bringing attention to the imbalance between men and non-men in the scene, and the band’s care and attention to detail make dancing the night away all the more meaningful.

GOOD LOOKING FRIENDS: at KATACOMBES, POUZZA FEST, 20/05/2018
You can toss a lot of genre buzzwords at a wall and see how many stick, but you’ll always fall short when it comes to putting a name to Good Looking Friends’ brand of emo punk. Combining elements of acoustic folk rock and twinkly emo, the real power is in the band’s ability to shred while moving gracefully about the stage. The band simultaneously shredded on a guitar, violin, bass, and drum kit, while somehow getting every member of the audience to croon and swoon along. One of the last sets of the festival, and the last for yours truly, ended with on a high note.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matty Weaver resides in Brooklyn, NY, where they book local and touring acts as Turtle Den Booking, and work entirely too much. They share their creative works, which includes street photography, concert videos and creative non-fiction, on their website, matty.cool, and on Instagram as @mattydweaver.

 

 

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