CJLO @ 77 Festival 2018!

I have been waiting for the second edition of ’77 Montreal Festival ever since its successful debut last year, and it did not disappoint. This year, organizers wanted to step up their game with more bands and more stages. There was the Jardin stage, reserved for smaller acts, with very little separation between the fans and the performers, and there was the Ouest stage, which would attract larger crowds and would televise the acts and massive screens on either end. I wanted to see everything, so I found myself running across the festival grounds, often having to leave midway through one set to catch the end of another.

Due to a hold up in the media line, I unfortunately missed my friend’s performance in Les Fucking Raymonds, a Québecois tribute to the Ramones. But it’s no use holding a grudge against the festival staff, since they are constantly working to satisfy the thousands of attendants.

Parents were encouraged to bring their kids, since entrance was free for children under the age of 10. Thirty years ago, parents would have been scared senseless by the thought of their kids going to a punk rock concert, but the modern parent understands that the music is relatively harmless. I was inspired by the sight of small girls looking up at riot grrrl acts like Pussy Stench and L7. I’m hoping the next generation of the Montreal punk scene will have more female musicians.

‘77 Montreal is a celebration of long-lasting history of punk. Bands showed their appreciation for their predecessors in the form of covers; Anti-Flag covered “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” by The Clash, L7 covered Agent Orange’s “Bloodstains” and Montreal’s own The Planet Smashers did a speedy rendition of “Gangsters” by The Specials. Not to be outdone, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes did a whole set of punk versions of classic pop songs like “I Will Survive” and “I Believe I Can Fly.”

The most standout performances were when musicians got up close and personal. Near the end of their set, Pat Thetic and Chris #2 of Anti-Flag brought the drums into the crowd and played their last song surrounded by astonished fans. I was surprised to hear the drums in the pit just as clearly as when they were onstage. The wonders of wireless technology. Similarly, Jeff Rosenstock jumped down into the crowd to play the saxophone solo of his song “Nausea.”

Probably the most memorable moment of the night was seeing Suicidal Tendencies. Before they came on stage, the audience repeatedly chanted “S! T! S! T!” Out of context, one would assume the crowd was simply cursing in French. When Mike Muir took to the stage, the crowd erupted in excitement. Muir might be the only original member, but he was joined by greats such as Dave Lombardo formerly of Slayer on drums and Ben Weinman of Dillinger Escape Plan on guitar. Suicidal played with as much energy and speed as they did in the glory days of hardcore punk.

There were so many amazing performances that I couldn’t possibly name them all. By the end of the night, my memory became a bit fuzzy as I graduated with my tenth beer of the day. I was also exhausted, I couldn’t imagine being able to return to Parc Jean Drapeau for two full days of Heavy Montreal. It would be interesting to see what’s in store for next year’s edition. Although this year had a wide variety, from ska to hardcore, I wonder if the festival would broaden its definition of punk to include more subversive acts like crust punk and goth. Oh, and more local bands would be much appreciated as well!

Find more pictures of the festival on Sewer Spewer's Facebook page!