Pouzza Fest [Day 3] - Live in Montreal (Cover Artwork)

Pouzza Fest [Day 3]

Live in Montreal (2024)

Live show

The third and final day of a festival is always an interesting experience. You are both extremely tired and super pumped, you feel on top of the world and also like you need to sleep for at least a week. It is a great feeling to have and I find it motivates me to go to more shows. I didn’t want this to be the last day and I wanted to keep going forever.

When I opened Instagram that morning before we headed out for the day, the first thing that popped up was a flyer for a secret show by Devon Kay and the Solutions at Cafe Cleopatra. We had so much fun when we saw them on Friday at Cabaret Fouf that we decided to see them again. We got there not long after 5 and the club was already packed. We found places to stand near the wall and I climbed up on a stool to get a better view and some pictures. The band were beyond stoked to be playing a secret show and after they thanked Pouzza profusely they started up a “5pm strip club show” chant and everyone soon joined in. They were even more high-energy than they were on Friday which I didn’t think was possible. Everyone was having a blast, dancing and singing along. They played a ska version of their song “Escape From the City” and played some older tracks which was awesome. Their energy rubbed off on me and it was a perfect way to start the final day of Pouzza.

From there we grabbed some Greek and Vietnamese food to fuel up for the night ahead. On our way to Turbo Haus to see Shit Present, I saw someone walking down the street towards Foufs with a guitar case and it was none other than Laura Jane Grace! We smiled at each other and said “Hi” in passing. It was one of the highlights of my weekend. I later found out that she was heading back to Foufs after playing a secret show at Turbo Haus. When we got to the venue, Shit Present were in full swing. They were kicking out high-energy punky emo rock tunes and showing the crowd how they do it in Exeter. I believe this was their first ever North American show and the venue was packed and very sweaty. They thanked Pouzza and Guilhem for inviting them over. They also started a discussion about the proper way to wipe - which is front to back, just so we’re all clear. They played songs from their new EP Acting Tough and their album What Still Gets Me including “Fuck It”, “Voice in Your Head”, and “Unravelling”. They brought Georgia Maq (who had played earlier in the day and who I just missed) up for their final song, “What Still Gets Me”. Absolutely incredible set all around.

Next up to the Turbo Haus stage was Tiny Stills out of Los Angeles. I had vaguely heard of the band before but I wanted to check them out after someone recommended them online (thanks Fab!). They filled the room with power pop mixed with emo and they blew me away. They sounded huge and played lots of songs from their upcoming record, the aptly named We Really Felt Something. This show also marked their first show kicking off the new record and the band played with vigour. They played a mix of songs from the upcoming album and from their previous releases including “What’s the Point of Anything”, “We Really Felt Something”, and “Resting in Pieces”. Before they began “Resting in Pieces”, lead vocalist and guitarist Kailynn was having trouble with her guitar. She asked the crowd, half-jokingly if anyone had a guitar she could borrow and said that she wished Devon Kay was there because they're friends and Devon Kay and the Solutions were her pandemic band. She asked the crowd if anyone had a pandemic band and some people shouted out answers. They decided to launch into the song right when someone over to the side of the sage was tuning up a new guitar. They handed the guitar to Kailynn who thanked them and they started playing again. Just then, Devon Kay walked in with his guitar to give to her. They joked about it and started the song again the third time. They handled this with humour and grace and the vibes in the room never soured. Tiny Stills blew me away and I can’t wait to check out more by them.

The Ergs were set to play Cabaret Fouf so we raced back to the venue. “Packed” does not do justice to how busy the room was! It was listening room only. No one could get in and find a place to stand so everyone was hanging out around the doorways to listen to the musical stylings of the New Jersey punk icons. There was so much heat emanating from the room that we soon moved into the Electrique side to cool down. The Ergs sounded great and we learned that if we want to see them, get there VERY early.

It wasn’t long until Rozwell Kid took the stage on the Electrique side of Foufs. They came out of the gate swinging with “Kangaroo Pocket” and had everyone singing along to “If I do everything that I should / When I do nothing at all?” by the end. Before launching into the second song, lead singer Jordan lead the crowd in a call and response which started with “First song’s done” followed by “Fuck yeah! Onto the second one!” The band are experts in crowd participation and had so many fun moments like that. One that sticks out was before “Grand Canyon”, Jordan asked everyone wearing a hat to take it off and twirl it around their heads to hype up the “bucking bronco” himself, drummer Sean. Then Jordan instructed everyone to put their hats on backward and to, “Join me in not giving a shit anymore”. I was right up front by guitarist Adam and he was SHREDDING while moving around, striking power poses, and doing incredible backbends. Every member of the band had amazing stage presence and brought the crowd in at every possible opportunity. When one crowd member went over to Jordan and started giving him the “give-me-more-tone” spirit fingers, he spun his guitar around, leaned down, gave the person the pick, and let them strum to their heart’s content. Seeing them play “Total Mess” and having everyone join in for “I’m a mess” was truly something to experience. Everyone was having a blast and putting so much feeling into the lyrics. When I think of the phrase “pure punk energy” Rozwell Kid live is what I think of. They put on one of the funnest sets of the entire weekend.

Then it was time to head back over to Théâtre Sainte-Catherine to catch Montreal-based Whoredrobe’s set. They released their debut EP Mirror Games and I have had it on repeat since February. They kicked off their set with “Family Planning” and only got more energetic from there. They were moving around the stage, dropping down to the floor, and jumping back up throughout the entire set. At one point the lead vocalist urged the crowd to pick up their moshing intensity saying, “If I can bounce around up here in these high heels you can do it down there”. They played more songs from the EP including “Riot Kissing” and “Slut Prayer” along with a cover of “Teenage Whore” by Hole and a new song that sounded super grungy and had amazing bass tone. There was a wonderful mix of clean and harsh vocals throughout the set and the band didn’t let up once. I was dancing around and screaming along at the top of my lungs, especially to the “Fuck the fascists” part of “Riot Kissing”. I thought they were going to be great but they blew through all of my expectations. I can’t wait until I can see them again.

We went back over to Foufounes Electrique and headed up to the balcony to see Alex Lahey. I was not familiar with the Australian rocker before the festival but I’m really glad that I caught her set. The band played very well together and they kicked out punchy indie punk that had everyone dancing in no time at all. They introduced a lot of the songs which was really helpful and played tons including “Good Time”, “They Sky Is Melting”, “Sucker For Punishment”, and the wonderfully named “You”ll Never Get Your Money Back”. This was their first time playing Montreal and they absolutely rocked. At the end of their set, Alex whipped out a digital camera and took a photo of the crowd before leaving. I hope Alex Lahey comes back to Canada soon so I can see them again.

Then it was time for Laura Jane Grace! The energy in the room was electric as the lights went down and the band (made up of Mikey Erg on drums, Paris Campbell Grace on backing vocals, and Matt Patton on bass) came on stage to the Velvet Underground’s “We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together”. They wasted no time diving into the first song of the night “Hole In My Head” off Laura Jane Grace’s recently released solo album of the same name. She took a moment between songs and laughingly said, “I apologize if we sound dangerously close to ska music”. At that point, I was expecting a horn section to pop out of the wings and come onstage but instead, the band started playing Against Me!’s “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong”. The whole room went completely wild, everyone was singing at the top of their lungs. The set was incredible and featured a mix of Laura’s solo songs including “Punk Rock in Basements” (great track and very fitting because the band made Foufs feel very intimate), “SuperNatural Possession”, “I’m Not A Cop”, and “Give Up The Ghost” along with lots of amazing Against Me! songs including “True Trans Soul Rebel”, “Walking Is Still Honest”, “Baby, I’m An Anarchist”, “Miami” (I SCREAMED), “Thrash Unreal”, “Don’t Lose Touch” (ALMOST LOST MY VOICE), and “Unconditional Love”. They also did a great cover of “Androgynous”. They closed the set with “Black Me Out” and I started crying once I recognized the chords in the intro. I screamed along to the chorus with every fibre of my being and felt so much weight lift from my shoulders. This was the most cathartic set for me out of the entire weekend. I cannot accurately put into words how incredibly amazing this set was and how much it means to me that I was able to be in the crowd. I’ve sang along to so many of these tracks by myself and they’ve helped me through some tough times. Being able to scream along to them in a crowd of people who also have deep connections with the songs was unbelievably special. I’m still processing this set. If you’ve ever doubted the power that music can hold, see Laura Jane Grace live. She will have you believing again in no time at all.

After Laura Jane Grace I felt hollowed out in the best way possible. We went back to the hotel, packed for the early train, and fell asleep. I have thought about all of the shows that I saw this year over and over and I couldn’t have asked for a better Pouzza Fest. It was amazing to meet so many people in person and I just missed a few people who I hope I’ll catch up with either at a show soon or at Pouzza next year. The festival has such an amazing sense of community and being there is always a pleasure. They put a big focus on safety and making sure everyone can enjoy the shows which I really appreciate. Fresh, cold water is available at every venue which is a lifesaver, especially after you’ve been dancing your butt off and screaming your lungs out. The entire team who put Pouzza together and who make it the wonderful place it is deserve so much praise and high fives and hugs and pizza. The care and effort they pour in can be felt in all aspects of the festival. Pouzza Fest is one of the funnest weekends on the calendar and I can’t wait to go back next year. The countdown is on!