77 is the first major Montreal festival to bring together the local punk scene for an event

 

I think most Montrealers are used to seeing either douchebags heavily clad in Metallica attire, 16 year olds from around America with flowers in their hair or boys with tie-dye shirts hopping around on Molly at Parc Jean Drapeau in the summer. This time, 77 Festival brought together local punks young and old to the new set-up on Parc Jean Drapeau as they renovate the main site. 77, a festival celebrating the last 40 years of punk, brought together crust punks, old school punks, hardcore kids (litterally, one was 7 years old), and basically most of the local punk scene that I am aware of. That being said, I’m sure there are many more who did not attend, or maybe didn’t even hear of it. I did not see much promotion for the first year of the festival, but with the turnout I look forward to its success in the future.

 

In a way this was a festival for non-festival goers, and those who did experience it were privileged to be there the first year. The vibe was much more pleasurable than most festival experiences, with room to walk around, sit on grassy spots, and enjoy a refreshment without waiting an hour (although they definitely could have had a more efficient food service). But who needs food when you’ve got beer, right? Aside from the minimal crowd, their attitude was refreshing, ranging from young 20-25 year olds who share a passion for old-school punk as well as 50-60 year olds reminiscing on the heyday of punk: the 1970s.

 

1977 itself was a turning point for music, with Iggy and the Stooges breaking all the rules of stage performance, Blondie with the stylish Debbie Harry paving the path for female-fronted bands, The Damned and The Ramones reaching the public eye, just to name a few. Yeah, punk may have started a few years before but in 1977 it blew up. It was no longer just garage music but a worldwide style, attitude and mentality. On the 77 Montreal website, they describe their goal as “hoping to create not just a festival but a living archive of the Montréal Punk scene uniting all the eras of the music we love into one glorious celebration of the genre.” And the organizers from Evenko and Greenland are far from impostors when it comes to the punk culture of Montreal, having been booking punk shows for the past 25 years, from basements to clubs.

 

77 reminded us that punk may be dead in the mainstream, but the spirit continues to thrive. Particularly, LA punk icons “X” killed it on stage. The 60-something year olds brought the vibe of the original wave of punk back to life for an hour with the fabulous Exene Cervenka leading the ass-kicking with her unforgiving stage presence, crisp vocals and punk rock attitude. She stood with such nonchalant confidence, beer in hand and bright pink scruffy hair shimmering in the sun. At the end she just snarled “Thanks.” into the microphone and walked off. Does it get more punk rock than that? As much as she rocked, she did not steal the stage with guitarist Billy Zoom transitioning from rockabilly/surf solos to ripping sax sequences. The bassist and vocalist John Doe seemed to have re-ignited his inner teenage punk, flailing and screaming throughout the set. Last but not at all least, their drummer D.J. Bonebreak killed it with a jazzy solo. Let’s just say, their youth does not seem to have dissipated with age. They were clearly having the time of their lives, and that energy resonated within the crowd young and old.

 

Other highlights were Belfast native Jake Burns doing emotional folk renditions of his band Stiff Little Finger’s classics such as “Alternative Ulster”, pioneers of the New York hardcore scene Madball and of course Rancid who ended the night with a killer, energetic performance of all their classics. All the performers seemed humble and more than excited to be playing a festival surrounded by true lovers of punk rock. To top things off, 77 held a competition for local bands to enter the chance to win playing a smaller stage. Locally famous band The Barrelheads ended up winning, lighting up that tiny stage with energetic rock’n’roll, blues and punk rock. Local supporters and new-found fans moshed harder than ever for the 45-minute set. Even when Rancid started playing on the main stage, most people stuck around to support and enjoy, really encompassing the essence of punk rock: local music and community. I overheard someone who’d never seem them before call out to his friend “This is the best show so far, I don’t know why there weren’t bands here all day!”

 

For the first time, Montreal punk-lovers young and old got to share an experience of both the most famous punk bands such as Rancid and Dropkick Murphys to local talent like The Barrelheads. The spirit of 77’ original punk was surely in the air, shared by both the musicians and the crowd. 77 reflected on the rich music culture present in Montreal, and will again for the years to come.



 

’77 is the first major punk festival to bring together the whole local scene

I think most Montrealers have seen, at one point or another, the many faces of punk: the douchebags, heavily clad in Metallica attire; the dazed kids with flowers in their hair; the boys with tie-dye shirts hopping and bopping on Molly; crust punks; old school punks; the hardcore kids…

So it was that this past July 28th, 77 Montreal, a festival celebrating the last 40 years of punk, brought all the faces of punk together at the new Parc Jean Drapeau set-up (while they’re renovating the main site). I’m sure, however, that there are many more who didn’t attend, or maybe didn’t even hear of it. I honestly didn’t see much promotion for the festival. I’m not even sure how this was marketed–litterally, I saw a 7 year-old there– but I look forward to its success in the future!

In a way this was a festival for non-festival goers and those who did experience it, were privileged to be there year one. The vibe was much more pleasurable than most festival experiences: there was room to walk around, to sit on grassy spots, and even to enjoy a refreshment without waiting an hour– although, they definitely could have had more efficient food services. But who needs food when you’ve got beer, right? Aside from the minimal crowd, the audience was refreshingly diverse: ranging from young 20-25 year-olds who share a passion for old-school punk, to 50-60 year-olds reminiscing over the heyday of 1970s Punk.

1977, as a year, was a turning point for music: you had Iggy and the Stooges breaking all the rules of stage performance, Blondie and the stylish Debbie Harry paving the path for female-fronted bands, The Damned and The Ramones reaching the public eye, to name a few… Yeah, punk may have started a few years before, but in 1977 it blew up. It was no longer just garage music but a worldwide style, attitude and mentality. On the ’77 Montreal website, they describe their goal as “hoping to create not just a festival but a living archive of the Montréal Punk scene uniting all the eras of the music we love into one glorious celebration of the genre.” And the organizers from Evenko and Greenland are far from impostors when it comes to the punk culture of Montreal, having been booking punk shows for the past 25 years, from basements to clubs.

’77 reminded us that punk may be dead in the mainstream, but the spirit continues to thrive. Particularly, LA punk icons “X” killed it on stage. The 60-something year-olds brought the vibe of the original wave of punk back to life for an hour with the fabulous Exene Cervenka leading the ass-kicking with her unforgiving stage presence, crisp vocals and punk rock attitude. She stood with such nonchalant confidence, beer in hand and bright pink scruffy hair shimmering in the sun. At the end she just snarled “Thanks.” into the microphone and walked off. Does it get more punk rock than that? As much as she rocked, she did not steal the stage with guitarist Billy Zoom transitioning from rockabilly/surf solos to ripping sax sequences. The bassist and vocalist John Doe seemed to have re-ignited his inner teenage punk, flailing and screaming throughout the set. Last but not at all least, their drummer D.J. Bonebreak killed it with a jazzy solo. Let’s just say, their youth does not seem to have dissipated with age. They were clearly having the time of their lives, and that energy resonated within the crowd young and old.

LA Band X, from left to right: John Doe, DJ Bonebreak, Exene Cervenka, and Billy Zoom

Other highlights included Belfast-native Jake Burns doing emotional folk renditions of his band Stiff Little Finger’s classics such as “Alternative Ulster”– pioneers of the New York hardcore scene Madball, and of course Rancid who ended the night with a killer, energetic performance of all their classics. All the performers seemed humble and more than excited to be playing a festival surrounded by true lovers of punk rock. To top things off, ’77 held a competition for local bands to enter the chance to win playing a smaller stage. Locally famous band The Barrelheads ended up winning, lighting up that tiny stage with energetic Rock’n’Roll, blues and punk rock. Local supporters and newfound fans moshed harder than ever for the 45-minute set. Even when Rancid started playing on the main stage, most people stuck around to support and enjoy, really encompassing the essence of punk rock: local music and community. I overheard someone who’d never seem them before call out to his friend “This is the best show so far, I don’t know why there weren’t bands here all day!”

For the first time, Montreal punk-lovers of all strips got to share an experience of both the most famous punk bands such as Rancid and Dropkick Murphys to local talent like The Barrelheads. The spirit of ’77 original punk was surely in the air, shared by both the musicians and the crowd. ’77 reflected on the rich music culture present in Montreal, and will again for the years to come.

-words by Devan KM