It was a great line-up. Let’s start with that.
The Harvest Invitational Punk Rock Classic, a one day festival in Montreal, was returning after a fourteen year hiatus (!) for its fifth edition. Honestly, I’m pretty sure no more than a dozen attendees actually remembered one of the original iterations. Like the Pouzza Pelouzza fest before it, the Punk Rock Classic featured throughout the afternoon and early evening a line-up of local bands on both the main stage and a smaller stage in a ‘magic’ tent, followed by, in that order, Bane, Alkaline Trio, Pennywise, and Face to Face.
Check out the review and photos here!
Like I said: great line-up. But like all outdoor events, it was helpless to deal with the whims of the weather, and it was pretty miserably cold, windy, gray and overcast, with on and off drizzles. Still, considering the horrible forecast, we felt like in the end it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. As for the venue, the huge outdoor plaza in front of the Olympic Stadium, I guess it was ok, but compared with the idyllic village-by-the-seashore setting of the Pouzza Pelouzza the week before, the gigantic concrete expanse of the Esplanade felt cold and indifferent. Combined with the autumnal grayness of that day, the atmosphere simply wasn’t that festive. And I might be totally wrong about this, being no expert in crowd evaluation, but it looked like the grounds could have accommodated twice as many patrons and that perhaps the organizers were hoping for a slightly better turnout. Again, crappy weather certainly didn’t help I’m sure.
But hey, the music was the music. My surprise of the day: without a doubt Bane who put on a great show and inflamed the pit for a while. I’m not huge on hardcore generally, but I can recognize passionate performers when I see them, and definitely these guys I’d want to see again. Following right on their heels was Alkaline Trio, whose brand of pop-punk sounded relatively tame compared with the furious energy of Bane. If their performance seemed a bit lackluster, it may be more due to that juxtaposition rather than their actual energy level (I think Pennywise would have made more sense in their spot). Anyway, people were excited to see them, their setlist was a classic mix of old and new (I was glad for the few tunes from their recent opus), and Matt Skiba was wearing a stunning red pirate shirt (?) which complemented/complimented his turquoise jaguar guitar perfectly.
As for Pennywise, they were equal to themselves: eager to play classics, engaging with the crowd, and fun to watch. I sometimes wish they’d be more adventurous with their setlist (do they ever close with anything other than Bro Hymn?) but a festival is perhaps not the ideal setting to explore a band’s more obscure repertoire. And then it was good to see Face to Face on a stage again. It had been a while for me and I was not disappointed with their selections from the nineties. But I always respected that band for their artistic integrity and their courage to make the music they feel like making, even when it strays from the pure punk rock formula they are known for, as illustrated by their last record ‘Three Chords and a Half Truth.’ I was then a bit disappointed with a quick exchange with the crowd that went something like this:
“So we have a new album out you might have heard about. Who’d like to hear a new song?”
“Or would you prefer a song from one of our first albums?”
Crowd cheers slightly louder.
“Alright then, we are here only to please.”
Starts playing Disconnected, or Walk the Walk or something.
All I’m saying is I love you guys and I get the whole entertainment aspect of live music, but I mean come on! People can deal with a couple of lesser known or newer songs you actually feel like playing. They’re not going to leave or boo you.
So all in all it was a very satisfying day of music. Oh and props for quality beer at a reasonable price (25 cents difference between Bud and Stella, what a hard choice!).
Here’s a selection of photos from Pennywise and Face to Face.
All photos: www.stevebourdeau.com
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