Pouzza Fest [Day 2] - Live in Montreal (Cover Artwork)

Pouzza Fest [Day 2]

Live in Montreal (2024)

Live show

On day 2 we woke up with an intense craving for bagels so we ventured to a nearby bagel shop and had our worlds changed forever. Sorry every other place in the world, you can’t even come close to Montreal bagels! After we were fuelled up we headed out to Foufs to check out the merch mall. There were a lot of cool bands there and some other vendors including a table selling hockey and baseball cards and some artists selling their prints. It was a lot of fun to wander around, check out the wares, and say hi to some awesome folks.

That night was poutine night (second half of pouzza achieved!) and after consuming a heroic amount of cheese curds I ascended the stairs from Le Central to Pouzza’s newest venue MEM (short for Centre des mémoires montréalaises - a museum documenting the history of the city) to catch Rust Ring out of Chicago. I loved their most recent album North to the Future and their previous album Genuine Me so I was very excited to finally have the chance to see them live. Festival time goes twice as fast as normal time and because I forgot to take that into consideration, I got there in time to catch the last two songs. I came in just as the band was starting “‘Everytime We Touch’ Comes On” and was able to move through the crowd to find a good spot to stand. The song is tender and has several slow-building moments in it. It is a perfect balance of soft and loud and I could feel every emotion that Joram was singing about. Her voice was strong and clear, effortlessly going from powerful moments to softer moments. Joram said, “This next song has our album title in it!” before launching into “Outline Alaska”. When she sang “North to the future” she pointed at the crowd like, “Here it is, the name of the album in the song!” Everyone laughed and was singing along at that point. Even though I wish I had’ve caught their whole set, the two songs I did see were absolutely incredible.

The next band up at MEM was Sunliner out of Leeds, UK. I wasn’t familiar with the band going in but one of the members had given me a couple of free stickers at the merch mall earlier in the day so I thought I’d check them out. This was their first time playing in Canada and they killed it. They kicked out energetic, riff-filled punk rock with a touch of pop and were incredibly fun. They shouted out The Penske File at one point and dedicated a song to them. One of the best things about festivals is finding out about bands that you weren’t aware of before and I’m very glad I checked out Sunliner. I’m looking forward to checking out more music by them.

Proper. took to the MEM stage after Sunliner. I love this band and have wanted to see them for quite a while so when the opportunity arose I knew I had to be near the front. As luck would have it, I ended up right at the front of the stage and stayed there for their entire set. The band was made up of Erik on lead vocals and guitar, Jon on bass, and Kai on drums. Jon was pulling triple duty that night, also playing in The Big Easy and Peopleviolence (which Kai is also in and Erik also plays live with them sometimes). They opened with a snippet of “You Good?” before Erik said, “That’s not really our first song, that’s just a taster. Our first song is about gay sex” and they launched into their set properly. They played a mix of old and new songs including “Red, White, and Blue”, “Jean”, “Done Talking” (their excellent hardcore punk song), “Huerta” (everyone was singing along with all of the “I could’ve been”s in the chorus), and “Shuck and Jive” (blew the roof off the place) from The Great American Novel. Erik talked with the crowd, quoted Letterkenny, and made jokes throughout the set. At one point Erik said, “I don’t want to be perfect, I just want to make music with my friends” and you could feel that pure joy in every song they played. They also brought up the fact that their van (also Peopleviolence’s van) had been broken into at the beginning of their tour and all of the gear they were playing with was borrowed. They all played so well with their instruments that you really wouldn’t have known that they were unfamiliar to them. Proper. are fucking outstanding recorded but their songs take on new life in a live setting. Everyone in the crowd was having the time of their lives and you could tell that the same was true for the band. It was a perfect mix of fun and seriousness.

We stayed at MEM to catch a few minutes of Deforesters set after Proper. left the stage. I was familiar with a handful of songs and wanted to see what they were like live. Someone in the crowd near the front had a giant bubble blowing wand and soon bubbles were floating around the venue, adding to the fun atmosphere. We caught a couple of songs including “What Do You Want On Your Tombstone?” and heard about their quest to find raisins. Then we checked the time and realized we’d better get our butts down to Turbo Haus because it was almost time for The Big Easy to take the stage.

When we got to Turbo Haus The Big Easy was just finishing up a song and I was able to find a spot close-ish to the stage to stand. Stephen told the crowd that this lineup of the band had started playing together that day and had only an hour of practice before they went on stage. I seriously thought that they had been playing together for much longer because they were incredibly cohesive and seemed instinctively to know what everyone else was doing and where they were going on the stage. The band sounded huge and filled the room with their punky emo rock. They played songs from their back catalogue as well as from their upcoming album (It’s No Secret) The Truth As Bad As The View. Going in, I knew a handful of songs but after seeing them live I’m looking forward to listening to way more from them.

Then it was time for Peopleviolence to take to the Turbo Haus stage. Stephen and Jon didn’t have far to go because they’d just played in the Big Easy and after a short set up the band was ready to rock. I was able to move to the front of the stage and couldn’t wait to hear them play. I had been listening to the three songs they have out on repeat for days and was stoked to see them live. They started off their set with “Half and Half” off their recently released debut single The Crosses That I Carry and proceeded to give the room a lesson in how to make mathy emo post-hardcore punky greatness. Everyone joined in on the “Woahs” during both “Half and Half” and “Culture” making the room shake with feeling. In between songs Jon asked the audience if they had any questions and some memorable ones were “On a scale of 1-emo, how emo are you?” and “Fuck, marry, kill - E, M, O”. The first question was answered with a “I’ll let the next song answer that” and the second one was met with a “Can I fuck all of them?” They created an amazing environment in the room, it felt very intimate but at the same time massive. The sound they are able to create with only four people is astounding. They also recounted the story of their van being broken into and their gear being stolen and spoke about how grateful they were to play Pouzza Fest and that so many people had showed up for their set. Jon also took a minute to tell everyone, especially those who are not cishet white men, that anything you set your mind to is within your reach and not to let anyone tell you that you can’t do something just because you look different than them. Peopleviolence are fucking awesome and I could’ve listened to them all night. I can’t wait until the new songs they played are released into the world.

We raced to Théâtre Sainte-Catherine to catch some of AVEM’s set. The place was packed and we arrived just as they were finishing up a song. To bring the song to a close they all looked out into the crowd, flipped everyone off, and good-naturedly yelled “Fuck you!” which was returned (also very good-naturedly) by the crowd. Between songs, the band played bird sounds which transported you from a gloriously sweaty punk club into the forest. In the intro for their song “Puffin Toss” they spoke about the need for more support and help for people dealing with addiction. It was a great intro for a very important song. They also ripped through “Go Away” from their recent EP Nerdin About Birdin and their superb theme song “Avem”. To hear everyone screaming along to “A! V! E! M! Motherfucking birds of prey!” was an incredible moment. Everyone in the crowd and on stage was completely in their element and having the times of their lives. They mentioned that a pterodactyl had visited them earlier in the set too which was perfect. I’ve loved AVEM for a while and was very happy that I got to catch part of their set.

Following AVEM the heat caught up and we had to retreat to the hotel. It was an excellent day 2 and I was already getting excited for the final day, day 3.