If you are unfamiliar with Amnesia Rockfest now is the time to plan for next year’s festivities.
Alex Martel was only 17 years old when he had organized the 1st edition of Rockfest back in 2005 and since then his brain-child had grown into the largest music festival in Canada and one of the biggest in North America. This year marked the 11th annual Rockfest and there are no plans of stopping now.
Rockfest focuses on punk-rock as well as hardcore and metal acts, there is usually a rap group in the mix as well. In years past Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg performed, this year it was Ice Cube that had the crowd screaming “F**k the Police” but I’ve got to say the police in Montebello seemed pretty chill to me.
This small town has a population of under 1,000 residents but for one weekend out of the year the streets are flooded with tens of thousands of punk-rockers and metal-heads alike. I had arrived just about the time that the music was beginning but first things first, had to set up camp. I actually stayed at a host family’s house and camped in their yard with nearly 50 other party-goers. Now that camp was set up, I had to venture to the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello to get my press credentials.
Media check in was a couple of miles or so away from the concert (or I guess in Canada such and such kilometers away). To get to the fest I had to ride a shuttle boat and everyone on the boat was looking at their watches because we all wanted to see Against Me! As we hit the dock which was directly behind the main stage I could hear the lyrics to “Thrash Unreal”, “If she wants to dance and drink all night…” I may have missed the first half of Laura Jane Grace and her band but at least I got to see them perform and the one thing that was clearly visible from where I was standing was her smile. They appeared to be having a great time and it projected through the music and unto the crowd. Next time I will try my damnedest to be punctual but the half set I did see was amazing and fun.
NOFX as you may know already is one of my favorite groups of all time and this year they were to play Punk In Drublic from beginning to end. Yeah, well did you really expect the boys not to stray from this plan? El Hefe claimed “I didn’t get the memo” and the show started with “72 Hookers” which they announced as the first track from Punk In Drublic. Hey it’s a good way to weed out the posers from the die-hards. When the band attempted to play Scavenger Type they admitted they hadn’t rehearsed it, so instead they played these crowd favorites: Murder The Gov’t, Six Years on Dope, Fuck The Kids, Seeing Double At Triple Rock, Sticking In My Eye and Franco Un-American. So did they play Punk In Drublic in its entirety? You decide, either way they put on a fun show as always and everyone enjoyed themselves even though the band got sidetracked; I mean it’s NOFX we’re talking about here.
I’ll admit I haven’t really listened to Sum 41 that much over the years but seeing them live in Canada has changed my mind a bit. Not that I didn’t enjoy the tunes that they did with Iggy Pop because I did but it’s the pop-punk tunes that I tend to stray away from. However, I have to say they honestly killed it on the main stage and I have a new-found respect for the band. I am also really digging their new single “Fake My Own Death” which was just released with a video that takes aim at pop-culture, memes and emoji’s.
There were many acts that I regrettably had to miss because I have not perfected the act of being in two places at once yet. When it came to a point that I had to choose between Rise Against and DRI, I had to go with DRI. No offense to Rise Against but I have never seen DRI and I had to witness “Acid Rain” live. I believe I made the right choice. DRI has been around since 1982 and Kurt Brecht and Spike Cassidy are still rocking hard. They’ve been through a series of bassists and drummers over the years but I would say they sound better than ever.
Out of all of the groups that I had the chance to see English punk act The Adicts, were the highlight for me. According to one of the band’s stage managers they have been together for 41 years now. This particular gig was Monkey’s birthday and because of this the band sung happy birthday and presented a cake on stage. The set took place on one of the two Tony Sly stages and thanks to Tony Hawk’s Underground all of the kids in the crowd were singing along with “Viva La Revolution”. When the band played “Joker In The Pack”, Monkey tossed an entire pack of shiny purple backed playing cards into the crowd; I didn’t find the joker but I did pick out the 6 of diamonds.
For the last three years Tony Sly has been remembered and honored at Amnesia Rockfest. In 2014 there was a single Tony Sly stage and last year and this year there were two stages dedicated to the late musician. There also was a performance by No Use For A Name Tribute Band and Cokie The Clown ended the two days of performances with an acoustic version of “I’m Sorry, Tony” singing the lyrics “from coast to coast let’s raise our drinks and give a toast to Tony Sly”.
On the way back into the U.S. of A. my driver Russ and I were dreading the border patrol because they are usually pricks but surprisingly the officer at our window actually had a personality. “Where are you coming from?” He asked. “Amnesia Rockfest” was our response. Then what came out of his mouth just made the trip complete, he says “did you rock out with your cock out?”
“Yes, Yes we did!”