On Saturday, April 11, Ragnarock Events hosted a punk rock show at Crobar in order to offer invitees a break from the recent “Easter fuckery” (as the company itself classily worded it). The event, called “Resurrection’s a Bitch”, brought together a whole group of rebellious art students and drug addicts – the types who meticulously foster the sense of fashion that flourished from their hipster days.
Crobar, one of my favorite nocturnal hubs in town, attracts an engaging clientele of metal heads, punk rockers and musicians, whose intimidating displays of tattoos, piercings and ludicrous hairstyles often protect incredibly sensitive, quirky and unique individuals. The actual atmosphere of the bar – loud rock music, comforting Christmas lights and thematically dark artwork – becomes incredibly warm and welcoming to the regular visitor. The sexy bartenders are always down-to-Earth and amiable; the dysfunctional bathrooms, always teeming in graffiti; the pool table, always waiting for players. However, what all drinkers love best about Crobar is its beautiful back terrace that gives way to the stars, and where one can openly smoke.
Thus, on the evening of April 11, the oh-so-cherished Crobar livened up thanks to bands such as Unsung, Cross Bones and Cuntagious – bands that play the kind of punk rock that has been underground for a while, not getting any mainstream exposure. Thus, I had the privilege of witnessing the more rebellious side of the genre.
Unsung and Cross Bones, two groups incredibly similar in sound, both really impressed me with their intricate and speedy bass lines. It was also kind of amusing to notice how the guitarist from Cross Bones, incarnating the archetypal music student, kept staring at the neck of his instrument, meticulously verifying that he hit the right notes (as if that matters in punk rock). Unsung and Cross Bones were both decent, but nothing particular remains to be said. During their sets, everyone lounged around the terrace, eagerly waiting for Cuntagious to go on.
Finally, at around midnight, Cuntagious began their set. Naturally, just by their witty and “charming” name, one gets the gist of what this band represents. However, I do want to continue to describe them because despite their often cheap, meaningless lyrics, Cuntagious is one of my favorite underground bands in Montreal. As soon as they hop on stage, everyone on the terrace runs inside. Supportive friends become fans (whilst during the later drinking binge, fans will become friends). The beginning of the music signals the beginning of the chaos: violent pushing and shoving initiated by pretty coked-up fans threatens to tear the set to pieces. The mic almost falls and people keep hopping on stage. Luckily, the band mates seemed thrilled by the disarray.
TwoFortyToby (bass & vocals) rocks his pseudo-dreads as much as his simple but regular bass playing. Tom (guitar & vocals), an excellent guitarist, strangely reminds me of Johnny Rotten, with his pale complexion and unruly stage presence. David (drummer) keeps a steady beat, surprising the audience with crazy drum solos the few times he gets the spotlight. The three members have insane band chemistry: while David modestly but stably provides what the other two ask for, the two singers’ stage interactions are mesmerizing to witness, since they both have a similar sense of humor and defiant self-confidence. In fact, Toby and Tom each take turns with verses, creating a neat “back’n’forth” vocal effect that enhances their strong bond.
The lyrics rasped (and sometimes shrieked) into the mic are unsurprisingly impossible to grasp, but Cuntagious do not lyrically distinguish themselves anyway. However, it is important to note that if one is lucky enough to hear the title of a song, one basically knows all the words to it. For instance, Chop My Dick Off’s beautiful lyrics include literally four words, with the occasionally “right” inserted before “off” to add variety. My Name Is Vlad is an impressive song because the Cuntagious lyricists actually had the sophistication to include some mumbling in German. F*ck You, Fairy Boy, a song that Toby assures audience members is not homophobic (“it is about a guy who literally looks like a fairy”) is a favorite of mine, although definitely not because of the meaningful lyrics. Backed with a nice groove on the bass, this song displays the climax of Tom’s guitar skills and therefore makes for an instrumental masterpiece. Nonetheless, Toby destroys the beauty of its aftereffect by blurting something around the lines of “f*ck this song, it was way too long” at the end of the air.
Essentially, one needs to understand that bands like Cuntagious don’t express poetry through music, but use words as fillers for the vocalist. Naturally, the musicians try to amuse their crowd and enhance their overall “avant-garde” demeanor by seeming as nonchalant and “osé” as possible, but their lyrics do not transmit any concrete message. However, the real strength of Cuntagious, an assemblage of really talented musicians, resides in their sound. The raw, rebellious emotion that Cuntagious conveys becomes contagious to the crowd. Anarchic artists help people, especially youth, let their anger and emotional turmoil loose without damaging anyone else.
Ultimately, Toby ended the show quite unconcernedly: “Check out our new album. Somewhere on the Internet. I don’t know where the fuck it is at this point, but check it out if you can.”