Saucy poutine, luscious pizza and sweaty punk rockers wildly invaded downtown Montreal last weekend for the sixth annual edition of PouzzaFest. This fusion of delicious music with melodious food unfolded gloriously within the confines of grimy (yet irresistibly charming) punk/metal venues such as TRH Bar, Foufounes Électriques, Katacombes and Théâtre Sainte-Catherine. And for those unfortunate enough not to have tickets, several big names including Less Than Jake and the Planet Smashers rocked the free outdoor stage at Quartier des Spectacles.
The headlining ska bands added a fine summery touch to the festival, playing their cheerful melodies and upbeat rhythms in the outdoor warmth of Place des Arts. Big D and the Kid’s Table created a lovely contrast between the suave harmonies of the wind instruments and the raw, masculine voice of their lead singer, whilst the talented trombone player rewarded the fervently skanking crowd with killer solos. The next day, Less Than Jake’s smooth horns took the spotlight as the band put on an incredibly playful and animated set. Nothing more delightful than an explosion of streamers, balloons and Roger Lima’s sexy dreadlocks…
Amongst the more hardcore bands, Sick of It All radiated angst – a group of adults who have not yet outgrown their teenage years. Unfortunately, with the Foufs acoustics, no matter how loud Lou Koller screamed, his voice remained inaudible (this was also a problem that the Weak Ends had to face at Katacombes on Saturday).
The most justifiably popular event of the festival involved The Suicide Machines and the Saintes Catherines – hoards of people crowded Foufounes Électriques’ first floor, hoping desperately to squeeze into the packed stage area upstairs. And the event was most definitely worth the risk of agoraphobia. One of the few bands to pull off the Foufs imperfect sound system, The Suicide Machines played an exceptional set over the enthused voices of fans that zealously sang along to the treasure of an album that is Destruction By Definition (1996).
However, the real gem of the weekend was getting to talk to Dave Cooper (bassist) after the Planet Smashers’ dazzling set. Although the group has been active for as long as 21 years, they still maintain the impregnably youthful energy that characterizes any timeless ska band. Life of the Party (1999) was a wise album choice to play – the mood went from tender in No Matter What You Say to wild with the classic Super Orgy Porno Party. This was also the group’s first time playing Save It and Kung Fu Master live (they also played Trouble in Engineering, another rarity to encounter in their setlists).
“Life of the Party, we put it out in our fifth year. Everything seemed to gel that year. Oh, we thought we were fucking kings, man. We would just drive everywhere and party… I could do so many drugs and drink so much – my nice pink fresh liver all set for it. We never barfed, never got sick, never got pneumonia. Now, 21 years into it, we’re fighting over the goddamn hemorrhoid ointment,” chortles Dave warmly. “Matt and I have been together in this band for 21 years. It’s been a lot of cops, going to court, going through the Bush administration, dealing with the border, having to fight with like every county sheriff… But we sure as hell had a good time!”
Pouzza Fest took place in Montreal May 20-22. Details HERE.