Photo Credit: April Yablonovitch
On Friday 28th July, 2017 Parc-Jean Drapeau hosted the first ever ’77 Montreal Festival and Canadian Beats was lucky enough to cover it!
Celebrating the music and cultural shifts of the punk rock world over the past 40 years ’77 Montreal managed to bring back a defining era, begging the question “is punk rock really dead?”. Had you been present on the island on Friday, you’d agree that punk rock was most certainly alive, well and thriving. Dotted with colourful people in studded clothes and a rainbow of hairstyles, ’77 Montreal seemed frozen in time.
Kicking off the festival were Montreal’s very own, Pale Lips. The energetic four piece prepared the crowd for the inescapable onslaught that was to come. Just as the girls finish their set a battle cry is heard from the East Stage, beckoning the crowd over. Barrasso have taken the stage. The exuberant 5 piece are joined by another guitar wielding member, thus presenting a grand total of FOUR guitars on stage. However the abundance of guitars did tend to drown out the vocals.
As the day wears on the crowd of punk rockers alternates between the two stages. With every passing act the crowd grows thicker and excited. Some people, however keep to the sitting area, enjoying a meal from a nearby food truck, others spend time at the Marche Aux Punx, watching screenings of punk movies and documentaries, some shop for records and merchandise, while others rock out by the stage.
The much loved Genetic Control take the West Stage next. They’re upbeat and fun to bounce to. The band is interactive and the crowd is excited, a (fruitless) attempt is also made at a mosh pit. Tunes like “Puff”, “Dirty Rocker”, “Love Rats” and “Urban Cowboy” get rather enthusiastic reactions, the crowd raising a toast to the band. “You’re such a lovely crowd. We’d love to take you home with us..but we can’t”, singer Mike Price/Polio Elvis tells the crowd. The band opts to take a picture of their audience “for the CIA , Big Brother and everyone else to see where we are right now” instead. They end their set with “Minor Threat”, achieving a loud cheer from the crowd. The crowd claps in sync, as Polio Elvis addresses them: “Keep doing this festival. Hope it comes back!”
A roar of “Let’s GO!” erupts from the East Stage. The Kingpins have arrived. The open their set with “Let’s Go To Work”. By the time they reach the second song, the entire crowd is bouncing and shimmying in the sunshine. The band is having a full fledged dance party in their suits on stage, the frontman mooning the audience, the crowd is tossing up beer cups, bubbles are floating in the air, the sax and trumpets are blaring and water is being sprayed to cool the crowd – it’s one happy-go-lucky situation. The harmony of the male and female vocals provided by Lorraine Muller and Paddy Walsh adds to the atmosphere. “Punk rock is not a style”, they say, “It’s not a hairstyle. It’s an attitude.”
The Creepshow deliver a solid performance on the West Stage. With their roaring guitars, heavy drums and energetic frontwoman, The Creepshow have the audience in the palm of their hand. “Feel free to run around and shake your asses for a bit”, they tell the obliging crowd. The band gets the massive circle pit they ask for, prompting them to say: “Montreal is the only place in the world in which a person selling beer to you will come in the pit to sell it to you”. As the set draws to a close, the audience is reeling ,the band is giving it their all, frontwoman Kenda is standing on speakers and jumping down to high five the crowd.
Californian band, Joyce Manor tear up the East Stage next. With their loud bass, grinding guitars and strained vocals, Joyce Manor have an army of shirtless fanboys moshing about senselessly. The band have an air of nostalgic charm about them. They play a slew of short, youthful songs, “Constant Headache” being amongst the longer ones. The track receives the most excitement, with the audience headbanging and singing every word.
Jake Burns brings some serenity to the West Stage with his acoustic guitar. His set provides a refreshing and peaceful break from the hardcore punk, allowing the audience to regain their energy and get their bearings in order. People bob their heads along to his tunes and singing along loudly to songs like “Nobody’s Hero”. “Jake Burns you ROCK!” someone shouts has his set comes to an end.
“Montreal what’s up? Are you ready for some New York hardrock?!”, Maball frontman, Freddy Cricien booms. Their performance is loud, fast and enthusiastic. The band demand massive mosh pits on the left and right of the stage, which they get with fervor. Turning to the audience at the back, Cricien shouts, “You in the fucking back, let’s go!”. They oblige without a moment’s hesitation. The band is interactive and energetic, jumping at the barrier and orchestrating a birthday singalong for their friend, Chris.
Bouncing Souls are up next, pulling a large crowd. A massive circle pit is formed and crowd is singing every word with zest. “Late Bloomer” and “Lean On” get massive singalongs. As their set draws to a close, frontman, Greg Attonito jumps off the stage and runs along the barrier. He sings “True Believers” along with the audience, coming to a strong finish.
From the moment they step on stage, The Vandals have the entire audience in the palm of their hand. As people head towards them they’re already chanting along to “It’s A Fact”. The band jokes, prance along the stage, shred incredibly, dedicating a song to “the beautiful ladies of Monreal”. They encourage the entire crowd to get dancing, calling to the cameramen as well: “Camera guy! Film this!”. As the show draws to a close with the hilarious track, “My Girlfriend’s Dead”, guitarist, Pete Steinkopf offers to sing an encore. He sings “I Have A Date” for the “boys and girls, girls and girls, girls and boys, and boys and boys”. The encore had to be the most exciting performance yet, with the entire laughing and singing along, and Steinkopf running between, climbing on and dancing on the barricades.
Headliners, X finally make their highly anticipated appearance – and to say that they were well received by the crowd is an understatement. Clearly missed and adored, X were on their 40th Anniversary Tour. X know how to control a crowd. They sing hits like “In This House That I Call Home” and “Nausea”. The audience singings every track, word for word, reveling in nostalgia. “Glad we came here!”, the band tells the audience. “We’ll try (coming back) every 30 years”, they joke. No matter how much time has passed, the quartet still perform with the energy of a youth, even knocking down mic stands in the process! “Punk rock will come back”, they reassure the crowd.
Dropkick Murphys take the stage next. It’s clear to see that people absolutely adore them. The entire crowd is bouncing and moshing. The chant all the lyrics with fervor: “The boys are back!” and “Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!”. “Regardless of what we’ve said over the years…you’ve always treated us like friends”, the address the crowd. Towards the end of their set, the entire audience is on stage with the band in the blink of an eye. Beer cups are being tossed up and people are crowd surfing. Confetti bombs go off, sealing the deal and marking the end of their extremely solid performance.
As the sky changes its colour from blue to navy, the festival is brought to an end by Rancid. Although festival attendees had been dancing to different acts all day, they still manage to muster up unwavering energy for the last act. Having been rather polite throughout the day the crowd abandons concert etiquette, shoving their way closer to Rancid. “You guys are here to have some fun?”, the band shouts, “So are we!”. The audience sings every song word to word, even mimicking the sound of the instruments. People are moshing, crowding surfing, throwing beer cups, getting on friends shoulders and getting lost in the music. As their set draws to a close Rancid invites the Dropkick Murphys up for a few songs. People are dancing on tables and running around in the field, carefree.
As the crowd begins to filter out, a countdown echoes over the island. ’77 Montreal managed to bring an iconic and cherished chunk of history to 2017. The festival was nothing but good vibes, hard punk rock and freedom.
For more photos from the show, head to our Facebook page! More will be added soon!