Montreal’s 7th annual city punk festival Pouzza Fest took place last weekend in downtown Montreal including five indoor venues and  an outdoor stage at the Beer Garden. The festival attendees were spoiled with an amazing weather most of the weekend, and only got wet at the last outdoor show of the weekend on Sunday when California’s Lagwagon closed Pouzza’s main stage.

Some of the bands on the first day of the festival included Mustard Plug and The Slackers at Beer Garden, Downtown Fiasco and Fire In The Radio at Foufs 2.0, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Red City Radio and RVIVR at Foufounes, Russian Girldfriends and Trigger Happy at Theatre Sainte -Catherine, and Matt Embree (RX Bandits) and Chris Farren at Katacombes, and many more amazing bands, which I all missed since I was only able to get to Montreal on the festival’s second day on Saturday, but my wait was so worth it.

I made it right on time for Toronto’s PUP and The Flatliners headlining the Beer Garden outdoor stage on Saturday night. PUP is always a fantastic band to see live. The singer Stefan Babcock’s boyish charm and endless energy got the crowd going as he stage dove into the audience towards the end of their set.

Saturday’s final performer at the Beer Garden, The Flatliners, always delivers a solid set and the crowd appreciated the band wholeheartedly. Giving the crowd what they wanted, the band played their biggest hits and sent the people off to the indoor venues to continue their night.

At Katacombes, two Quebec bands, Montreal’s BonVivant and Crash ton rock from Jonquire, Quebec, gave their all to the absolutely packed venue of enthusiastic punk rock fans. Especially memorable was Crash ton rock that reminded of gipsy punk that Gogol Bordello has delivered to the audiences around the world for years.

The band bought along a full stage of musicians including an accordion, which gave the band its unique sound. The singer Jonathan Tremblay’s vocals are passionate and contagious and in my opinion made the band’s performance one of the best one’s at the festival.

The anticipation was high when Hamilton’s The Dirty Nil climbed on stage the Katacombes before Brutal Youth and Direct Hit! closed off the night.

The final day of the festival was full of surprises as I had not realized the Montreal 375 anniversary celebrations were on during the weekend as well and woke up to the parade by Royal de Luxe’s building sized puppets and performers roaming the streets of downtown Montreal and brought thousands of curious people out on the streets.

I started the evening of festivities with Audio Visceral show at Foufounes and was extremely impressed how dapper the singer Steve Beauchesne looked in his custom suit. From Foufounes I decided to move on to the Katacombes to see Ottawa’s Hellbros energetic performance which never disappoints to amuse and entertain.

I made it right on time for the closing of the outdoor stage with Barrasso and Lagwagon, that had brought the place full of loyal fans. That was also the biggest amount of tiniest punk fans at once with dads with their toddlers wearing their ear muffs on their shoulders or napping in their strollers.

The stage was mc’d by Ottawa’s legendary Remi Royale who paced on stage in his red suit and hot dog belt in between acts, and made the crowd singing classic songs like Sweet Caroline with random made up lyrics.

California’s Lagwagon was well anticipated and they delivered. Singer Joey Cape, who also played an acoustic set at Foufounes the night before, complained about being tired but it did not show as he bounced on stage for the one last hour of the show. The band came back on stage for an encore before closing Beer Garden for the night.

For the last show of the festival, I picked Chicago’s The Bollweevils who definitely did not disappoint. The singer Daryl Wilson, who is without a lie over six foot tall with long dreads made all the other bands that night look like a school prom bands. He took over the stage and delivered a magnetic performance to the tired festival goers and managed to squeeze the last juice they had left out of everyone at the venue.

For a festival this size, 150 bands at multiple venues in the middle of the city, you might expect a slight chaos, but the whole festival was extremely well organized, all the bands were playing on time according to the schedule with minimal interruptions and the festival went on rather peacefully throughout the weekend. Kudos to the festival organizers and the concert goers that return to Pouzza year after year. I know I’m not alone when I say I can’t wait to return to Pouzza next year for more.

By Laura Collins.