Pouzza Fest, the Montreal venue based punk rock festival named after putting a poutine on a pizza, turned five years old this past weekend. Ottawa Showbox went down to shoot a documentary/movie on the Ottawa bands playing. I felt it was also important to provide a written snapshot of this crazy and amazing festival. So here are some of the highlights in no particular order.

Dig It Up tearing it up at Katacombes during Pouzza Fest in Montreal, QC.
Dig It Up tearing it up at Katacombes during Pouzza Fest in Montreal, QC.
  • One of the best parts of Pouzza actually happened the day before the festival even began. The Thursday before the festival, Beau’s hosted a free Pre-Pouzza Party featuring Single Mothers, Dig It Up, Audio Visceral, Dee Cracks and Lost Love. Consider the cool setting of Katacombes, $1 hotdogs/veggydogs and the fact that Dig It Up and Single Mothers play one of my favourite styles of punk out there. The bar was set high.
  • Jeff Rosenstock taking the time to discuss the very important topic of sexual harassment at shows, many show-goers are conditioned to think it’s normal. Some also believe that when a woman speaks up about it, it means they aren’t tough enough for the pit. As he said, “sexual assault is sexual assault and any time you see it you should stop it. Everyone will have your back.” It is important for musicians to not only spend their time rocking, but to tackle serious issues and to use their position to positively influence others. Much respect, Mr. Rosenstock.
  • Watching one of your friend’s from Ottawa, Rich Chris, play a 2 a.m. set in a french fry restaurant and having a crowd of strangers sing along as he covers the Menzingers.

    Jesse Lebourdais playing the hangover brunch at Foufounes Electriques during Pouzza Fest in Montreal, QC.
    Jesse Lebourdais playing the hangover brunch at Foufounes Electriques during Pouzza Fest in Montreal, QC.
  • Getting to hang out with musicians from across the country and connecting with them to set up cool side activities. Namely being lucky enough to have Jesse Lebourdais play a private three-song set for me in an alley and then have Jon Creeden swing by for a song also. Pretty rad way to spend a morning.
  • Convincing a group of friends to do Sunday afternoon pizza bongs. Let your imagination roam for a bit… A pizza bong is when you fold a slice of pizza into a funnel like shape and then chug a beer using the pizza. Once completed, you are welcome to chow down on the za.
  • Continuing with the food theme, on Sunday morning Les Foufounes Électriques hosted a hangover brunch where every item is $1 each and you can get $3.50 Caesars. Imagine ordering eggs, curry tofu scramble, sausages, hash browns, and toast and only paying $5. Yeah – punk brunchers know what they are doing.
  • Racing around the beautiful and vibrant city of Montreal from venue to venue, there are seven to nine hosting shows simultaneously at any given time. The venues are all pretty close to each other and provide completely different settings and vibe. It is a great change from the outdoor festival formula.
  • Feeling so proud to watch a group of strangers and many of my friends singing and packing venues for Ottawa bands no matter where or when the show was taking place. A total of eight Ottawa bands played Pouzza Fest and the nation’s capital should be very proud of them. Here they are in alphabetical order: Fresh Hell, Dead Weights, Jonathan Becker & The North Fields, Jon Creeden, Rich Chris, Sidelines, The Tenenbaums, and The Valveenus.

    A bunch of Ottawa friends at the top of the half-pipe in TRH Bar during Pouzza Fest in Montreal, QC.
    A bunch of Ottawa friends at the top of the half-pipe in TRH Bar during Pouzza Fest in Montreal, QC.
  • To continue on that feeling, there were so many incredible moments shared with all the local bands and friends who made the trip to Ottawa to hang out, party, and watch all the Ottawa bands. There is something powerful about all of us singing together at the top of our lungs in another city that was just so beautiful.
  • Having the opportunity to see great bands that have never played Ottawa or that I have simply never heard off. In no particular order bands you need to check out that I just discovered or fell more in love with after finally seeing them live: Cayetana, Jeff Rosenstock, Barons, Rebuilder and The Jukebox Romantics.
  • Finally, being a part of a musical community made up of people from all over the world that congregated for an amazing experience.
pouzza, fest, ottawa, punk
The infamous Franky Gogo trying the infamous pizza bong. (Photo: Matías Muñoz)

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