September 4, 2017

Remembering RockFest

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Well in that case, it’s good that I didn’t spend my stag weekend in Vegas! No, I didn’t bring Syphllis home, not Mono, or not even a hangover. But rather, I did bring home some epic memories from my trip to Quebec late last month with 2 of the best friends a guy could ask for! And thanks to the onset of Instagram, a lot of public record has been transferred from the media form of text to photos and video!

So yes, my 700 uploads to Instagram in 3 in a half years led to my strategic utilization of hashtags, including #ripefrrockfest, #roadtorockfest, #ryansgettingmarriedEH, #amnesiarockfest, #rockfest2017, and most generically: #rockfest. Outside of the festival, we were able to utilize #jetaimemontreal,  #cityofchampions, #banginsummer #frshurz. Fuck. 


In 2014, I posted a detailed blog about my experience at this festival. That was the 10th year and it was at least as good of a line-up. Then, bucketlist bands included my seeing The Implants & Alice In Chains, + The Gaslight Anthem and you know: dozens of others.  A year later, I flew to Las Vegas and took in Punk Rock Bowling 2015. (0 Total Blog Posts in 2015). But man, seeing 88 Fingers Louie play a pool party + club show, and watch Sick Of It All, PEARS, Turbonegro for the 1st time at the festival was a super-good time. It was my 2nd time seeing REFUSED, too, which not a lot of 33 year-olds from Edmonton can say. But more than that it was cool to hang with buds Justin & Christopher -- we had a blast hanging for those 4 days! #automaticfriendsforlife.

But now I am getting married. < insert IMPENDING DOOM MUSIC HERE (JK LOVE!) > I don't know how many LESS concerts I can expect going to in the NEXT 15 years but I hope that for festivals, I can get the chance to go to some with the wife. Riot Fest Chicago, for example, is one that I wouldn't mind getting to as a married man! 

But I am sure thankful for Matt and Chantel to be able to spend the time (and money) to go on 1 hella whirlwind trip c/w camping and Wal-Mart and poutine and beer beer beer.

$6.25 for a budweiser in the festival grounds isn't even too too terrible! And we avoided the other corporate booze sponsor: Jagermeister, like the plague.  

Day 1 was ... exhausting. Stupid-early flights + 200+ THOUSAND people showing up to the quaint town of Montebello takes its toll. After driving through a farmer's field, we were able to walk with our bags through a 2nd farmer's field to some pre-made tents c/w sleeping bags. That DEFINITELY earned us some 9 o'clock beers. The Planet Smashers were playing with other "pre-fest" bands and we were ready for rest. Then? The rain. By midnight, a lot of things were wet! By the morning: a drizzly mudfest was about to take form. 

We got through the gates right about 1PM where L.A. hardcore band TERROR was just taking the stage! "Pick It Up!" " One heavy, funny way to start the day. It was even better when the rain quit! M & C bailed on the Tony Sly stage to go check out Soulfly and I waited around cuz Masked Intruder was going to be starting quick! My pals were also able to check out some of All That Remains before coming over to watch MUTE at the Francophone "Headrush" stage. They were awesome in 2014, but seeing these guys rip through a set to their adoring fans for a 3rd time was pretty damn special.  So funny how they talk (a lot) between songs in French then (both) vocalists sing all songs in English. 

A few minutes after they stopped, my First Favourite Band - Pennywise - started. 


I watched 4 or 5 stands from 50 feet out before bailing to the bleachers where M & C were taking it all in with slightly drier, more comfortable surroundings. Pennywise played tributes (like they do) and sounded as good as ever: certainly better than NOFX sounded for "the early show" in RockFest 2014. 


Matt went and caught some of Norma Jean while Chantel and I watched Thursday before heading over there too for food, the end of Goldfinger, and REEL BIG FISH, and a little bit of Basement. 

Wu-Tang Clan was starting. I "saw" them but didn't "watch" them. We got in a good spot for Killswitch Engage, who featured REEL BIG FISH's trombone player on one of their songs. KsE sounded so awesome live. I came home and listened to their newest album Incarnate a whole bunch. We loved there Hawaiian shirts and plastic flamingos on stage. With a turn of the head, we were able to remain in our bleachers and watch AFI play the main stage. Some might disagree, but I think they played some of their best songs!  I only ever saw them play 14 years ago, so this was a treat f'rshur. I think we left the festival and came back to watch half of Parkway Drive (M&C saw some of Less Than Jake I think -- I did not :( ). It was more important to me to rest up and get in a good spot for that old man, Dr. Greg Graffin, do his thing for that iconic band BAD RELIGION. This was definitely a highlight of the festival. HE'S SO OLD! And they sound so goooooood.  As a 33 year old, Crowd-Surfing wasn't in the cards, and mosh-pitting was kept to a minimum -- gotta keep the teeth for the wedding, after all. In addition, I was happy to chill with friends and watch Bullet for My Valentine back on the Jagermeister stage, rather than stretching myself to go watch Jello Biafra & Lucero back at Tony Sly.   I saw Jello play at PRB so that's AOK!

Just as the sun began to set, Dexter Holland and Friends. Same deal: I feel #blessed to be able to see the Offspring. They were more-or-less the 1st "big" concert I ever went to back in 2001 and I enjoyed my time with Chantel and Kay at Edmonton's worst venue: SHAW - last spring. The night was unwinding. I mean gearing up. Offspring played Ixnay on the Hombre + 4 or 5 of their beloved singles, finishing with Self Esteem.

Just as they were ending, we were in good shape to watch the start of another highlight: IGNITE! Their set went by super-fast, probably cuz I was enjoying it so much. Once again: 3rd time seeing Ignite, including the time they played with Pennywise and Circle Jerks at Red's and - you guessed it: RockFest 2014. 

We stayed at the Tony Sly stages for Down By Law (who JFK flew in to Edmonton a handful of years ago) -- great to see them again --- and "finally": FACE TO FACE to finish off the night. Matt sang lots. But even if I could have interrupted his singing, I wouldn't have bailed Face To Face to watch the night's mainstage headliner: RAMMSTEIN. We definitely were able to watch the end of Rammstein though, from a ways back. There was indeed fire, and then the singer ascended with angel wings, caught fire, and... descended. Impressive though. And they sounded good, especially if you are into that sort of thing!


The grounds and town and campsite were muddy as fuck everywhere. No getting around it. Somehow, between food and drink and loads of bands, we were able to get back to our bunks and get at least a little sleep! Charged some devices, found a stinky outhouse: festival life.

DAY 2. Drier. Matt's burnt. Somehow. Even with the Mostly Cloudy Day 1.  But honestly, he wasn't terribly burnt. I'd say "just annoyingly burnt". And there were peanut butter and jam sandwiches and chips and swiss rolls and energy drinks so we were OK! Anti-Flag was starting early. We got there earlier. Early enough to watch some of Quebec's Gutter Demons even! Stand Up basses are neat. Anti-Flag did their thang. fuck police brutality and all that. It's hard to remember how much I LOVED them in Warped Tour 2002 or 2003. Their club show @ Starlight Room last year was way more extensive but we all got the jist of it and enjoyed what they did. But we were gearing up for bigger and better things: Off to Tony Sly stage for The Dreadnoughts. They have a fiddle and play "POUTINE".

But as per usual: A WILHELM SCREAM was going setting up to RIP another insane set. So happy they are a band! 

The world would be a lesser place without them in it. Immediately after, Teenage Bottlerocket played a set with drummer Brandon Carlisle's replacement from Edmonton band The Old wives.


We skipped ska band The Specials to eat and catch some Boston hardcore band Death Before Dishonor. That was a pretty intense performance where one dude took a header and landed a foot in front of my feet.  There was a WAY bigger party for the following set by this little band called PUP.  I saw them at Denizen Hall just after Ryan Young was featuring this new young Toronto band on his podcast. THEY SOUND SO GOOD! They're gonna be as big as Rise Against in a couple years. A neat part of PUP's set was right before they got going, a nice young gentleman asked his girlfriend to marry him on stage and she said OUI!

Our friend Steve Rawles' followed with his Canadian band Belvedere right after. We saw them at The Needle Vinyl Tavern a month ago so it was a very abbreviated set in comparison!  Australian band Frenzal Rhomb showed up in Montebello for a 35-40 minute set, and we were able to watch some of it before needing to bail and chill and beer before the evening's shows! A quick break, then back to Tony Sly stage for France's Adhesive and that other huge highlight: GOOD RIDDANCE. After the good riddance show, I managed to score a drum stick from Sean Sellers and photos with both Chuck and with Russ. They were great to do that for their fans! Thanks, guys!! 


Agent Orange was playing while I was getting these pics and after that we were back to the bleachers! 

 311 was playing but I think Matt missed Converge. And I missed The Unseen cuz ALEXISONFIRE was playing as the sun began to set! Great sound, great set: I knew no songs. Well, maybe 5. Great light show and performance. Again, I thought my AOF-seeing days were long gone. Chantel bought a shirt. It has a unicorn on it and says DIE ALREADY or something on it. Rad.  

 I was too tired to go and watch a band I've never seen: Dayglo Abortions at Tony Sly and instead had #beerswithbuds as At The Drive-In got going. Eventually, I said we had to get closer because we could here Grimskunk on the stage at the other end of the park so we left the bleachers and stood behind a Drunk Guy Dancing. No harm, no foul, just almost. At The Drive-In was an impressive live show and they played new and old songs. He throws the mic around a lot and jumps off the kickset lots too. By now, the choices were to sit through Eagles of Death Metal just to go watch Iggy Pop or hang out and wtach Discharge, Sham 69, and Protest the Hero. Neither of these 2 options were too appealing so we decided to head back to camp! 

All in all, the festival was a blast.

The next morning, the trick was to get out of the festival. This was an easy task...
I think only 1 wrong turn. Fun times. Their roads have curves in them. Different!! We checked in to L'Auberge J'ardin @ Rue St. Denis and went for Schwarz' Deli. mmmmm. Food. We spent the next few hours walking around the city, including the waterfront and Old Montreal. 

At this time, I was pretty worried about home cuz our cat Milo wasn't doing so good and my fiancé had been spending time at the animal emerg. He eventually got admitted and diagnosed with heart disease, but I am happy to report that 3 weeks later he is doing ok, with the right pills. Really, it was all a good time aside from being stressed for Kay and my kitty but thankfully we have good and smart people in this world who can help us out! We had a great final night in Quebec and hit up Foufounes Electrique on a dead Sunday night and shot some pool. Thank you for being a friend Matt & Chantel. Now come help me get married.

chocolate and marshmallow

montreal grafitti

I think fine art's fine.

April 9, 2017

Dear Peter Mansbridge:

Today we celebrate The Dominion of Canada going to WAR 100 years ago. Canada was 1 of over 20 countries that participated in the Great War and were pretty small-beans, as remembered by the History of the World anyways. According to Wikipedia:
"A smaller part of the Arras offensive, the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps, became highly significant to that country: the idea that Canada's national identity was born out of the battle is an opinion widely held in military and general histories of Canada."
What would our identity be otherwise? And what do YOU personally take pride in? Me? I like the Maple Leafs - cuz they remind me of me - inconsistent, fragile - internationally reviled! _____ This post originally started with intentions of talking about how the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to clinch a playoffs spot only after 81 of 82 games into the year by preventing Sidney Crosby from scoring on about 5 or 10 chances in last night’s game. Nothing is more Canadian than a The idea was to remind you of your apparent love for Propagandhi by reminding you that you are NOT Alberta-Born, Prairie-Raised, probably. Wars sadly repeat themselves. Human nature’s? desire to control and conquer continues. What we are celebrating on this day is the fact that more Germans died than Canadians, in a in a battle in a war that ultimately resulted in the deaths of 7 million civilians AND 11 million soldiers between “good guys and bad guys” alike. Notably, “the good guys” were responsible for 1.6 Million civilian deaths and “the bad guys” were responsible for 0.62 Million civilian deaths. Through the entirety of The GREAT War, The Dominion of Canada sent over 418,000 men and about 60,000 of them were killed. Of those, 3,598 were killed at Vimy Ridge.

March 25, 2017

Bringing Back The Blog, Eh?!

December 27th I published a blog in which I talked about bringing back the blog.

Since then, I have published two: One, a list of 30 albums with a brief commentary and the second, a list of 15 bands that I don't listen to with an even briefer explanation for each. I conclude with how despite my non-interest in Pennywise that I would go to Punk Rock Bowling for my stag and enjoy them anyways.

I re-started the blog also in the spirit of "doing something". My days of doing nothing were tedious and tiresome. "Work on the basement" and "Apply for jobs" were my life. And the latter was a rollercoaster of emotion as an interview for 1 of 50 applications might seem to go OK, but then fail to produce a result.

That's why when receiving a job offer the day after sitting down with the president of a company I had cold-called the previous week, I was ... surprised.

With these recent developments, I don't know what I can hope for: less "free time". More earned time, and having to be accountable to not only myself and my family but to a bossman, too.

It will be interesting trying to "get'r done" as there is - as always - much to do. A wedding to plan, gym routines (also as of Jan. 2017) to maintain, bills to pay, basements to renovate, concerts to go to, and a woman (and animals) to love. I don't know how "Ryan's Stag" is going to play out -- I think it's probably more important to get a day or 2 off around my actual wedding, rather than a drunken extended long weekend in Las Vegas or Montreal or Montebello. There's a Ride To Conquer Cancer that I really have no reason not to do this year and - did I mention a wedding to plan?

I guess we will see how things work out. But for now I am going to listen to some American at a bowling alley regret voting for Donald Trump.

January 3, 2017

My Favourite Bands Are Boring

I am not necessarily going into this blogging thing totally half-hearted second time round. And I am starting to generate a few more ideas about things that I could rant about here.


Right now the pressing things on my mind include all the big music lists that people post (probably too much about) and that has inspired me to continue my OWN list of a different variety!

It's not to say that I don't LIKE these bands but it just so happens that I spend little if no time at all hitting play on the music that I once would have played daily.


15) Green Day / The Offspring  --- Because Blink 182 doesn't even make the list.

14) D.O.A. - Canadian hardcore -- that feels tired. But go green, or whatever.

13) The Dropkick Murphys - PRB2015 was good and I appreciate their history but I've heard enough bagpipes.

12) The Bouncing Souls - Maybe I haven't listened to their latest album enough, but I find it hard to find the motivation to go out and listen to it. They were featured on a podcast last week and it did remind me that they remain a terrific and strong band that I should probably try harder to pay attention to.

11) 98 MUTE - Probably one of my favourite hardcore punk bands out of the California area. Though Chaos Delivery Machine is tight, I will always love 98 MUTE more. I DO think it's super-rad that they played that show with Union 13 and a handful of other great bands for those 3 different "Album-In-Its-Entirety" shows that Pennywise hosted in SoCal last March.

10) Ten Foot Pole - I like Rev. And others. But Rev a lot. Maybe I'll pay more attention when they release their 1st album in almost 20 years. They released Insider in 1998. Don't really know much from them since then. 

9) Less Than Jake - I'll always like the Alexis Bledel music video though. I would much rather listen to The Mad Caddies in general.

8) Anti-Flag - Saw them last year. And also at Montebello RockFest. Tight live. I don't appreciate their new stuff like others do. 

7)  Avenged Sevenfold. I will always love those 1st 2 albums. But nothing else. 

6) Screeching Weasel - TV City Dream & My Brain Hurts like when I was 16 but otherwise: no. Also: Ben Weasel is kinda annoying.

5) Pulley - 2016's No Change In The Direction is been received VERY well. I like it but haven't listened no other Pulley albums and don't have too much desire to despite how great they are! 

4) SNFU - An epic old guy. That is like wayyyyyy too old. I wouldn't mind catching them once more though! For painful reminder and she's not on the menu and bobbit and drunk on a bike and... 

3) NOFX - I don't typically hit "Skip" when these guys come on, but I don't necessarily search them out either. First Ditch Effort had a timely release, shortly after I powered through 12.5 hours of Hepatitis Bath Tub on YouTube. And the live show was one of the best ones I've seen. That said, I never think to myself: Shit! I need to listen to NOFX today! Cuz I don't. So I won't.

2) Rancid - see #13 above and replace Bagpipes with Rancid.

And the band I MOSTLY don't listen to at all any more is...

1) Pennywise! - This band has meant so much to me for so long now, and it is extra-special that they are one of the few announced headliners that will be playing my stag at Punk Rock Bowling this May. I really enjoyed their energy for their XXV YEAR ANNIVERSARY SHOW here and I am optimistic for more good things from this band. I've enjoyed Zoli's Pennywise album and old Pennywise albums and newer Pennywise albums. Although I don't typically don't skip songs when they come on, I will usually put on any old Death By Stereo or Propagandhi album. 

Punk Rock Bowling is going to be great. Including The Bouncing Souls AND Pennywise, too.

Honourable Mentions: Rise Against, Coheed & Cambria, A.F.I., Tsunami Bomb, Slick Shoes,  Atreyu, Alkaline Trio (are they still making new music, or is that guy in Greenday now?), annnnd The Distillers. Definitely don't know whatever became of The Distillers. Were The Donnas better? Can't really remember. It's all about The Bombpops and Badcop/Badcop and War On Women for girl bands nowadays, am I right?!

December 28, 2016

Your Favourite Band Sucks

Blog resurgence Post #2. A lot of people have been posting their favourite albums from 2016 this entire month. Though a lot of these lists come from people that only listen to 1-to-3 styles of music, I find value in them anyways. Few break that mold and list bands outside the punk / skatepunk / melodic hardcore / hardcore genres. Really, it's a damn' shame I haven't listened to more of Signal Hill. And I am only learning about Australian instrumental group We Lost The Sea because of one of these lists. So without further ado, here's my list of top 30 releases from the past year, and a little mention of releases from 2015 when this blog was lying dormant. 

Check out   WE LOST THE SEA ⇦ before proceeding

My Third 10 Favourite Albums from 2016:
*30) Rihanna  - Anti 
29) Young the Giant - Home of the Strange
28) Venerea - Last Call for Adderall
27) Implants - The Golden Age EP
26) Masked Intruder - Love and Other Crimes EP
25) Bouncing Souls - Simplicity 
24) G.L.O.S.S.  - Trans Day of Revenge EP
23) Lightspeedgo - Just A Memory EP
22) Suicidal Tendencies - World Gone Mad
21) Last One Standing - Nothing Left to Lose

My Second 10 Faves:
20) Against Me! - Shapeshift With Me
19) Descendents - Hypercaffium Spazzinate
18) Alien Boys - S/T
17) Nofx - First Ditch Effort
16) Skipjack - A Soundtrack to A Eulogy
15) PUP - The Dream Is Over
14) Pulley - No Change In The Weather
13) Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
12) Brutal Youth - Sanguine
11) Off With Their Heads - Won't Be Missed 

and last but not least...

My ULTIMATE TOP 10 for 2016 releases:
10) Ignite - Peace In Our Time
9) Belvedere - Revenge of the Fifth 
8) Useless ID - State Is Burning
7) Death By Stereo - Just Like You'd Leave Us, We've Left You For Dead EP
6) Mandible Klaw - S/T
5) Rebels Sing - The Rebel Spell Tribute Compilation
4) Face To Face - Protection
3) Mute - Remember Death
2)  Kill Corporations - 432 Hz
1) Pears - Green Star

I almost listed Millencolin's True Brew and the solo record by Useless ID's Yotam Ben-Horin "Californa Sound" but they were 2015 releases. 2015 also saw the 1st release from Good Riddance and Strung Out in a few years. They were both excellent. Agnostic Front released The American Dream Died. Santa brought it for me a year later and I've only played it through once. 2015 saw the departure of The Rebel Spell's Todd Serious from this mortal coil due to a tragic rock climbing accident. That hit a huge number of Canadian punk rockers hard.  The previous year were breakthrough years for Youth Decay, War On Women, Badcop/Badcop, Edmonton's Fire Next Time, and likely a handful of others. But that was then and this is now...

So 2016. I must say that I don't really care about the new Brian Fallon Painkillers record. There's a time and place for Fallon records I suppose, and I'm not in that time or place right now. Other bands I've come to be disappointed in are Get Dead and Direct Hit. I don't really get all the hype. The new Brutal Youth record will probably work its way higher up the list but I have only listened to it through about 3 & a half times, aside from their Rebel Spell cover of Bring 'Em In. I also abandoned checking out new Tiger Army. I have Iggy Pop's new album too but haven't cared enough to listen to it. Same with Nick Cave. Nick Cave seldomly misses the mark though. I would probably list KsE if I were more into metal like the olden days. Same goes for Deftones' GORE. Did Anthrax release an album too??  I did happen to like the 1st Green Day single but that's all I've wasted my time on. Truly though, I would be more likely to be caught listening to indie bands Young the Giant, Bastille, or Fitz & the Tantrums with my boo on the local radio station.

2016 was a great year for concerts. It started with about my 8th Propgandhi show in February and The Offspring in March. I also saw Anti-Flag tour on their American Spring album. I saw Black Mountain and The Tea Party with Jesse. Choke and The Flatliners played 2 shows here as well. Millencolin played here for the 1st time since 2002 at the Starlite Room. Definitely a highlight of the year. PEARS came through twice, the 2nd time being with Useless ID and NOFX. Although I missed the 1st PEARS show, it was fun seeing the pre-show acoustic sets of Zach Quinn and Yotam Ben-Horin at The Buck on Whyte.  The Renegade Kid, Seth Anderson, released his 3rd solo project in 2016 thanks to the help of Joey Cape and One Week Records. No festivals like Amnesia RockFest 2014 and Punk Rock Bowling 2015, but I have already purchased tickets for my stag party for Punk Rock Bowling 2017. 2 of my best buds are planning on coming down there with me for that as well.  The notable headliners so far are  Pennywise & The Bouncing Souls, amongst a handful of lessers like Discharge and Cock Sparrer.  I went to my last  The Anatomy Cats show in 2016. They have been inspirational to me the past 7 or so years as well. Sucks that they're done. I missed a couple biggies f'rshur too. Off the top of my head: Fire Next Time with Fred Penner. A Wilhelm Scream.

Lastly, I would like to consider the non-2016 releases that made more playtime than ever before. Off the top of my head, these bands would include many that were introduced to me thanks to the Anxious and Angry podcast and others from pretty great friends both near and far. Thanks, friends!

15) Worst Days Down
14) Noisefight
13) Strike Twelve
12) Fire Next Time
11) The Dirty Hits
10) Lucero
9) Drag the River
8) Civil War Rust
7) Samiam
6) The Slow Death
5) 88 Fingers Louie (since PRB2015)
4) Dearly Divided
3) Moral Decline
2) I Am Heresy
1) Avail

And that's all I have to say about that.

oh. almost lost my thumb in 2016 too. close call. Not as bad as the time I did it in 2011...


*actually, I couldn't think of a 30th band but I definitley have this album thanks to the library.

December 27, 2016

2016: #worstyearever or whatever

Fuck it, I'm re-starting my blog. And heaven knows how long it will last for this time. Before taking a  year  and a half off, I published 137 blogs over a period of 7 or so years and started writing a handful more.

My decision to start blogging again came out of many things. One being my fiancé, who has been encouraging me to start writing again. Another is my motivation from all things in this world as of late: namely 2016: the worst year ever. I personally didn't think so. To me, that was probably the last half of 2013 and first half of 2014 where I saw my Mom slip away from cancer after 3 years of responding to treatment. Out of the 42 months she lived with the disease, that final 12 and final 6 and final 2 months were the absolute hardest... but the way technology and social media are nowadays, I have noticed a trend towards that viral theme: 2016: #worstyearever. What - because Prince died? Or Princess Leia? No. it's more likely because the electoral college made Donald Trump POTUS this past November. That's what's got many Americans, Canadians, and Planet Earthians all upset.  I am also restarting this blog to help me organize dizzying thoughts - as I had done before - to help me make sense out of - how does it go? "All the wonders and atrocities of the world". There's a million exciting things about 2016 and my life as it is today and the people in it. I've tried harder to embrace my friends and I've even reached out to family. Other family have shut me out, despite the fact that they told my dying Mom they would always be there to watch out for her only son. But I digress! Besides: I got a new family now. Well, almost.  My fiancé and I have set a date and the invitations are ready to be sent. Before then, I hope to do a little traveling, a little skiing, and if things work out the way I pray they will - a little working.

What else do I hope to achieve in this 2017 Blog Resurgence? Hopefully write enough to kick my butt into remembering perspective and priorities and values -- all that boring old shit that I tried to incorporate in the olden days of doing this. I would like to finish off the blog posts that I started but never published and add new ones about my thoughts on the environment and my Top 50 favourite movies and how I have all but completely abandoned listening to that CBC hippy music shit and  returned to listening to only the best of hardcore and melodic punk rock that isn't even necessarily 25 years old. I want to write about how netflix is dumb and Stranger Things and Gavin & Stacey and The IT Crowd and James Corden is awesome and how 193 pounds is ridicoulous and how the Oilers are winning but I can't watch them because Telus price-gouges for internet and TV and how Milo is a maniac and how instagram's for cats and spinning vinyl and how these pretzels are making me thirsty.

As you can see, this is all very scatterbrained and chaotic. But I suppose, that's the point: I can use this as a tool to help me focus. Until I get bored. Until Big Bang Theory comes on. Big Bang Theory is on...

July 8, 2014

Festival Fantasy

The year was 2014. A resurgence of bands of this calibre and style from both 20 and 30 years ago had never been been anticipated as Punk Rock was deemed to be all but dead.  But these bands were not only back now, they were thriving. Hell, they were throbbing! And they were all coming to a quaint, quiet Quebec community on the summer solstice - ready to rrrrrock! Initially, I wasn't especially attracted to the Amnesia RockFest with headliners: PRIMUS, Weezer, Blink 182, Alice In Chains, and Motley Crue being announced. But then a month passed and additional support to the festival was announced. In the end, this 2 day festival scheduled about 150 bands to play on 5 stages for about 14 hours each day. Sets would range between 35 minutes and 70 minutes, but the value in ALL THESE AMAZING BANDS couldn't be resisted. So off I went.

The first day was actually "Arrival-from-a-week-of-partying-in-Montreal Day": set up the tent, investigate the town, buy beer and drink it. We were pretty organized - possibly the first 10% of the festival-goers (first 2000 people!) to arrive! Things were quiet, hot, sunny, clean, pretty…

                    "general camping"

                                                   "Quebec has Maple Trees"         

That night, I ended up in the VIP camp behind the church with my Brighton pals S & C. We drank and smoked and hid from the hot sun and met punks from around the globe and chilled then partied with Smoking French Punks & Metal Heads alike, ate kangaroo meat and drank PBR and Labatt Blue and PBR again. I remember dancing with French kids to So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes while realllllly wasted at 3:00 AM. We done good. By the end, I was happy to find myself awake in the morning in my rental vehicle with my hat, keys, wallet, and RockFest wristband sitting next to me. Ready to ROCK!
"Montebello, Quebec"

Festival Day #1 (the Summer Solstice)

The line-ups into the Amnesia RockFest grounds were long, were fine. Especially with a beer in the hand and another one in the cargo shorts. Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen…Streetlight Manifesto was taking the stage at High Noon! There wasn't much time to waste! 

I got into the grounds at my own pace, chilling with some real friendly Anglophone Montrealers while sipping my morning suds. Once in the gates, I stumbled onto some peeps I partied with that previous night. They were rolling a fat one. At 11:30. In the morning. Fun times.

Streetlight Manifesto took the Main Stage that backed onto the Riviere des Outaouais. The VIP side  limited us poor suckers the different perspectives of the stage as they were given their own special section Stage Right for about 50 metres. Nevertheless, it appeared to be a real good setup. And, really, I was just happy to be there!

Hmmmmm there's a lot more bands I want to encompass in this post, so really what more can I say: it was cool to see a 7 piece band take the stage first. I had never seen them before so that's kinda awesome too! But I needed to stay focused because…

                                B e l v e d e r e !

...was playing on the Tony Sly stage at 12:40! My hometown Alberta boys were here to give'r for the 1 day  only, as they had to move on to shows in Ontario with Curbside over the next few days! So I rocked out  pretty hard in a relatively small crowd, as people continued to flood in through the gates. I would find out later that a mutual facebook friend definitely didn't miss this great set, as she traveled all the way to this festival from Japan!  I had only seen Belvedere play in December 2012 with Pulley in Edmonton, and many times in addition to that as well! But there was just something so special to have this "warped tour-esque" stage setting (but in a million times better environment that Calgary's Race City Speedway). After Belvedere shut their stage down, I caught singer Steve Rawles just in the corner of the stage. I told him it's great they were able to play this festival, and that it's great that Belvedere are doing shows! They are actually scheduled for an "Albertan" punk/metal fest out of Valleyview at the end of the month, with about 8 other big bands, and 20 more small ones. Shit. 1:20. TIme for…New Found Glory down at the Main Stage. I wondered down there, watched a little. It was alright! I never followed them much since their  Warped Tour glory days, so after checking them out a while, I discovered the Merch Booth.  $30 T-shirts! Allllrighhhhhttttt…. Better get focused: 

Montreal's MUTE took the Budweiser (/French) stage at 2:05. I was blown away. I wasn't wasted. I was still pretty fresh. The superfast guitar riffs from old and new songs were amazing. The sound quality was perfect. The crowd was really into it! The craziest thing about this Budweiser (/French) stage was that most of the Quebec-based bands played here and between their mostly English songs, they spoke in French to their fans! I had to ask a few people what they were saying. I learned the band will recording a new albums soon, which is great, even though I am really enjoying their 2011 Thunderblast right now. The Tempest was amazing live. I scored a setlist.

Gob was scheduled to play at 2:25. Who cares. I watched all of Mute then moseyed on over to The Gaslight Anthem on the Main Stage. Although they've been through town before, I never had the recent mature appreciation for their music until having my heart broken a few more times. It would prove to be one of my greater regrets to leave their set 2/3rds of the way through the festival grounds towards the Guttermouth show. Sure, Mark Adkins was entertaining has he was expected to be, complete with: humping a tent post, climbing on the tent, jumping off the tent, crowd-surfing, bleeding, spitting, and singing a little too. The set seemed short - they played a number of their well-known songs, the musicians thrashed & drummed hard. It's tough. I am happy I saw them, but I think this 30 year old would have had more appreciation for seeing ALL of the Gaslight Anthem's performance. I was surprised how they actually did bring a tear to my eye when they played Handwritten. Dumb Mark didn't. 

                             "DUMB MARK"

"Classy Gaslight Anthem"

Immediately after Guttermouth finished, Fishbone played a set. I chilled a little and enjoyed these Ska heroes. They actually played Grant MacEwan's Kumoniwannalaya party back in 2002 with the Mad Bomber's Society - one of my first concert experiences, or so! It was great though, because between these adjacent stages, I was able to watch MXPX play their pop punk  performance after Fishbone.
Then my "bucketlist" band H2O was up right after that! Sahweeeet!  The singer Toby Morse is 44 years old. The band isn't a "screamer" hardcore band, but man can he sing and boy are their songs great. It's all so positive. Probably one of the most positive lyrics and messages from any band I know. It's especially rad since they've been leading this healthy lifestyle, attitude for DECADES now. Such an inspiration. Such a good live show! Oh, and did I mention Blink-182s drummer Travis Barker played for 1 (or 2?) of the songs! Prettttty awwwweeeesommmmeeeeee……..!
H2O has a song called Nothing To Prove. You wouldn't kow it with how much more amazing their performance was in comparison with the next set starting at 5:20. It would be silly to miss NOFX, right? I think it was probably MORE silly to miss 88 Fingers Louie and Brand New who were taking the stage a little bit after that.
The trouble with NOFX is that they casually embrace the idea that they suck live. They are one of those 20 year old bands that is "mailing it in" which is in stark contrast with 30 year old band H2O from only about 45 minutes earlier. They are nearly at the point where they need to rebrand themselves as a comedy routine, instead of a punk band. They opened their set with a song called 60% which opens with the line: "I'm not here to entertain you".  Wellllll, I was entertained. They did exactly what I thought they would - and that was (unfortunately) attest to their song "Medio-Core". The older songs were good to hear, even though the sound and performance lacked. Linoleum, Kill All The White Man, Murder the Government, and Pefect Government were highlights. Oh and Bob. Gotta love Bob. Perhaps the only more entertaining part of the NOFX performance was the NOFX fans. The predominantly French audience seemed to sing a long to NOFX's sing-a-longs, but only for the first 2 lines of each song! It was almost like they didn't know the words!!! The only exception to this was for a pretty fun round of Champs Elysees. The French kids sang that good. And Franco-Unamerican. And Dig. Shit. It sounds like I had more fun here than I care to admit!  See for yourself.

Time for a break. I was pretty lucky because my ex booked us a private campsite which was a lot closer to the festival grounds than VIP camping OR general camping. The spot was real sweet too - next to trees, nice & private… "Quiet". I thought it was smart to rest up a little. More concerts were yet to come! 
Although I missed Brand New and 88 Fingers Louie, I managed to get back for hardcore band STRIFE. I don't listen to loads of hardcore, but I had them playing in my car earlier in June to get stoked for this classic hardcore band. The singer was screaming in the middle of the pit, with kids jumping all over him.

He had blood dripping down the front of his face, and his eyebrows were furrowed. Intense. Great to see live.  Seeing STRIFE though meant that I would have to miss ex-Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine shred through his band MegaDeth's songs. No Big Deal. Because the minute STRIFE ended, I was right next to the stage where The Alkaline Trio was standing!  Like NOFX, they played a lot of good, classic, older songs like This Could Be Love, Every Thug Needs a Lady, and Stupid Kid. Pretty rad to see them again.I wandered away right near the end of their set back to that Budweiser (/French) stage to watch RESET (c/w original line-up). This was the band that transfigured into pop-punkers A Simple Plan. But the old FAST stuff from these Montrealers was pretty great to see! A big thanks to my buddy in South Africa who told me months in advance to be sure to not miss them! Another VERY strong stage presence, and HUGE fan-base at that Bud stage.

Perhaps it was because it was next to the Main Stage, but I think Montrealers
do know their fast skate punk and they knew not to miss Reset either! On the flip side, I did miss another hardcore set by Earth Crisis. Lucky for me I had my priorities, eh!

"The Alkaline Trio playing on the Mitch Lucker stage at dusk on the summer solstice"
  "the Reset show"

"the site at sunset"
Okay, it's dark-ish now. Darker than it would be in Edmonton on the solstice, because Montebello, Quebec is that much farther south! And when it's dark? That's when the headliners happen. Time for Weezer? Nope. Not quite. I've seen Weezer. And I've also seen Face To Face. Therefore, it was time to walk on over to the 10 o'clock Face To Face set. No Pork n' Beans for me tonight. And I'm glad I did!  Oh my, it's weird because Face To Face also shows their age on stage. Their maturity. Their excellency. Again, it's funny to see how much better a performance can be compared to a live NOFX performance! My favourite songs? I don't know. The end was good. I was getting pretty tired. And the smoking everywhere was starting to bother me! I actually sat down on the ground in front of the stage amongst the hoards of people for a minute during their set. A cute French girl made it known she was worried about me! That was nice. But by the end of the Face To Face set, I was dancing, so all is good! 
"Face To Face  rockin' it through dusk in Montebello, Quebec!"

"the half-pipe, where Mark Adkins was scheduled to sign autographs"

"jager girl ($11 JagerBombs)  and the cleanup crew"

It just didn't end. I had a little bit more energy in me: not much. I think the night of partying the night before plus the week of partying in Montreal before that was starting to catch up to me. Jerry Only's MISFITS started playing the minute Face To Face finished! No stopping, let's GO! So rad. 
I didn't get real close - I wasn't super-excited for this Misfits band. I had only seen t hem once before in the old New City Suburbs down town, and was mildly disappointed. Nevertheless, I endured and enjoyed. Oh, and I should catalogue here that this was the set where a couple thought this was the best time and place to give a free show as he pressed her up against the fence on the side of the stage. Hawwt.  Or gross. You be the judge.

Hardcore band JUDGE played. I don't know JUDGE. I've heard of them. More hardcore. I was able to mix in more hardcore with a band called Life On Trial too. I was starting to lose track! Life On Trial played, I think, before Ignite - but the next day.
"Judge, and Greybeard of Life On Trial"

It was late. Walking across the site to catch Mastodon was out of the question. But back on the French stage a metal group named Anonymous was doing a feature performance with Quebecois Folk Hero "Mononc Serge". I decided to wander from JUDGE, catch some of this -- after all metal is okay sometimes, right? Plus depending on how I was feeling, I could decide whether I wanted to catch Blink 182 or Black Flag or both. 

 Lots of people came out for Uncle Sergei with his heavy metal French companions "Anonymous"

It got to be 12:15. Blink was already 15 minutes late, so I decided to check out Black Flag. In some ways, I suppose it could be as good as a Black Flag Tribute band, since this is one of the 30 year old bands that I don't know outside of Rollins/Morris singers. It was neat to see Greg Ginn though. He's kind of an icon! But alas. I was destroyed. After 20 minutes of Black Flag, I decided I could listen to some of Blink 182 as I headed back to camp. To party? To crash? Well, we would see. The only big disappointment about this was having to miss the 1AM performance by Suicidal Tendencies. I just couldn't do it. I know that if I had been there with closer friends, I would have endured, so that much was kind of too bad..! But all in all, it was a good, good day.

"black flag before bedtime"

Back at camp? I can't really remember. I probably had a beer or 3. And talked to some people then crashed. Fun stuff. I think. I am just happy I didn't have too far to walk! And it wasn't RAINING! 

Festival Day #2 (the party continues)

Day 2 started much the same: grab a beer, work my way to the gates. I slept ok and I wasn't all that hungover so that much was positive! And the kids I got to talk to were all pretty great too! Old and Young, French and English, Drunk and Sober.

I was in with plenty of time. In fact, I was able to catch a Quebec band "Fifty Nutz" before Anti-Flag took the stage. The Budweiser girls were out tossing "Budweiser Amnesia RockFest" T's into the crowd. They were cute, that was nice! Love French Girls! But Anti-Flag was really rad. Their live performance - again - far exceeded NOFXs. Maybe not MUTE's, as MUTE was definitely a highlight on Day 1. Nevertheless, they played real good, and the drones flying overhead got some pretty good footage of the 2 circle pits: the VIP one, and the punkassmotherfucker one. A little bit of talking from their frontman, a little bit of anger despite their success -- it was a good formula. Anti-Flag finished their set by lifting the bulk of their  drum set into the crowd and their drummer playing it WITH the PEOPLE. Pretty poetic, pretty Anti-Flag. Check it

 Back to Bud Stage next door. UKKO was another Quebec band I was introduced to. Although, I didn't get really into them (compared to Fifty Nutz earlier), it was great to see more new music live. It didn't matter though, because I was really stoked for what was going to happen next. Members of 90s champion bands Pulley, Ten Foot Pole, Strung Out, and Voodoo Glow Skulls came together to form the IMPLANTS. Melodic skate punk at its finest. One of the other highlights of the festival without question. Me First & the Gimmee Gimmees were playing the Main Stage but I was more than happy to see this band play.


"the jiffy marker guy was a sight to be seen. met some good people at IMPLANTS though!"

In the end, I snapped a lot of great photos, met an Old Guy from Edmonton, scored a drumstick, and grabbed a beer to celebrate an amazing start to Day 2 right after. I missed Throwdown but saw some of Life On Trial, tucked into camp to drop off my drumstick and new Implants T-shirt and Ignite hat and to re-charge for the next one I would have to get to.

Henry Rollins. Who? I didn't even know what to expect one bit. Was he going to be singing? With a band? Speaking? I walked up midway through and he was talking about dolphins wearing garbage as hats. And the human impact on the planet. And opening for Ozzy.  And the NRA. And blah blah blah. In the end it was actually pretty entertaining. Only more self-absorbed people would write a blog and expect people to actually read it. Oh Henry...

I had to hurry though because after Henry Rollins, the Main Stage was playing host to Lagwagon! Up til 2012, I never gave them much notice. Maybe the library didn't have their CDs. Maybe they weren't angry enough for my liking. Maybe a combination of those and other things. As it turns out, they were at least as good as the live performance on Main Stage that I observed by Gaslight Anthem. Just a really good sound. Better than NOFX. Okay, I'll put that to rest already. It worked out good because I had planned to go to watch my first whole metal show when Lagwagon finished, and that was on the Jagermeister stage nearby!

All That Remains was pretty heavy. They had a girl playing an axe and the drummer was fast indeed. Jagermeister also had a bar set up where the VIPs punk rockers could watch performances on that stage from on top of the bar!  I wasn't. And metal got boring fast, so I left and chilled and met more quality people who also decided there weren't many Must-See bands to see right now. Plus I had to rest up. Because IGNITE was next.

I was at the stage early, so I got to watch hardcore band LifeRuiner. It was interesting. They were pretty impassioned - I kept my earplugs in til they were done though. IGNITE on the other hand got an intro by Random Dude, "Come On Everybody, We Have IGNITE About To Take The Stage --- WOOOOOOT!". People were indeed pretty excited. Just seeing singer Zoli, bassist Brett again for the first time in 8 years was pretty awesome. And to learn that they are recording a new record now for release in the Fall make me very happy indeed. I scored a setlist, but me and my Edmonton friend from the Implants show decided we should split it. The songs were great.  The new one too. Definitely a Top 5 performance -- so far…!

Winding down from that performance was pretty necessary. I just kind of wandered aimlessly around the area. I ended up sort of by the entrance to Back Stage. And who happens to walk on out? Strung Out's Jason Cruz. He was actually in the corner of the stage during Ignite's performance. That was pretty cool. The even cooler part was that he casually - cooly - walked alongside me down past the booths and the tents, where we chatted about Quebec and the tour and how Edmonton loves on Strung Out hard all the time. This is my second time having a 1-on-1 with this star as we BS'd a little bit back in 2011 outside the Starlite Room in Edmonton.

"Jason Cruz and Ryan at the Starlite Room, 2012"
"Jason  Cruz and Ryan, Montebello RockFest, 2014"

I let this all sink in while listening to Cigar, before Primus. I decided that Primus would be a good band to see in a stadium atmosphere. By this time, I determined the same thing about the other big headliner Alice In Chains. Seeing some of Primus was great though.

Amazing skill on bass, and just a really rad sound in general. But I had to depart from the Main Stage again so that I would catch BigWig! In 2005, BigWig headlined Frostbite Tour in Edmonton alongside Death By Stereo, Misconduct, Tsunami Bomb, and Belvedere. Up til now, that had been my greatest "multi-band" performance. BigWig was just 1 more band that was making this festival so incredible! Their songs and lyrics have more impact on so many people's lives, and that was noticed as the area surrounding the stage was just packed.
Loads  of people gave Joan Jett the swerve so that they could watch this.  I can't say enough about how much love felt for these guys from Montrealers. It was a very positive experience

BigWig was INTENSE!!!!


Reel Big Fish played. I made a lap around the main strip to find some 50 cent waters and soak in the slightly  messier town of Montebello. I had to be quick though because I didn't mind missing some of Reel Big Fish, but I didn't want to miss...

...The Vandals! They played New You - that's all I needed. That, and My Girlfriend's Dead. Fun stuff. The first time I've seen Vandals since 2003 or '04 at a Warped Tour. Great live performance for Old Guys.  I kinda wish I knew them a little better!

After the Vandals, I missed Venom and The Sainte Catherines because BANE was on deck on the adjacent stage again. I like Bane. I like them even more when I can stay safe from the hardcore dancers behind a steel fence dividing the 2 stages. I needed to stay on this side so I could get a good spot for the band I was going to miss Alice In Chains for a band I've seen about 10 times... In fact, one of the first times, I saw them, Bane was the opener. One of the first times was in Red's at West Edmonton Mall with Strung Out! And that's who was up next. Jason Cruz was already on the stage trying to get the sound guys to get the mics and amps set right, as Bane beat out their decently long set

I ended up next to a girl next to the rail. The girl made me think of another girl I used to know. I couldn't help but wish that she was there with me at this festival. There are, after all a number of people that are more passionate about Strung Out than I am. However, this:

Fat Mike was on stage for this set, drinking Budweiser next to his BDSM wife.  I was super-close and tried to get some good shots in the poor lighting and bouncy crowd. Jason Cruz was as much on top of and singing to the front five rows as usual. Rob Ramos was directly in front if me - for the second time today - as he changed up from the Implants' songs to the Strung Out songs. Chris & Jord did their job as good as ever too. My favourite part had to be the into to Savant, and the following up with their version of Tony Sly's Soulmate. I teared up - just a little bit. It was seriously intense. Closing it with Matchook was a safe and sweet thing to do. There's only one thing that could have made this set better, and she was in San Francisco.


Once again, I needed a minute to absorb the entire set once it was finished. Had I been more on the ball, I would have hurried down to the Main Stage to watch more Alice In Chains. I did that though, once I finally collected myself. I am grateful that I saw as much of A.I.C. as I did, actually! I was listening to their Unplugged album before I was listening to any punk music. They have been a bit of an influence in my life, and I hope that I get the opportuneity to see them, like Primus, in a stadium setting. A 90 or 100 minute show, ya know?!


 The second biggest stage though was the only other one I hardly spent any time at: Danzig & Doyle were playing the Jagermeister stage after Alice In Chains finished. Sacrificing Glassjaw to see another iconic punk figure? Okay. And I'm glad I did. I managed to get real close, just between the centre rail and the Stage Left mosh pit. Danzig came out and started pounding his solo tunes like only he can. Twist of Cain, How the Gods Kill, Am I Demon, and Mother: in some ways I like his solo stuff more than his MISFITS stuff.

But then, the MISFITS stuff with Doyle was really great to see too. Doyle came out in full hair and make-up after 6 songs and played 6 of our favourite MISFITS songs: Skulls, Astrozombies, Last Caress… He couldn't have thrashed any harder with a bigger scowl on his face. It was good. After "Mother", they marched away and a stage manager came out and tossed a half dozen guitar picks into the air. One actually landed in my hand, but there was a really drunk, old, bald guy that was searching the ground frantically for another one. If I was any more of a MISFITS/ DANZIG guy, I would have kept it, but handing it off to my buddy there made both our day. Although, he was so drunk, he may have lost it the same night. Oh well! 

With the choices I was making, I was doing OK. I missed Grimskunk, Vince Neil & Tommy Lee with Motley Crue. Glassjaw would have been neat - not as neat as Danzig though. Now it was getting to be the end.

The Dead Kennedys.

Wow. I didn't expect that one bit! They had a singer that wasn't Jello Biafra, although had some nasally qualities of Jello! This guy was lean, fit, young(er), and FILLEDWITHSOMUCHENERGYGAHHHH! He crowd surfed and sang to the crowd and gave it HELL for a solid 10 Favourite DK songs which included Too Drunk To Fuck, Kill The Poor, Police Truck, Holiday In Cambodia…! Wild! Here's the whole thing with pretty good quality. It was cool to see the 3 other original members too! 

Tired. June 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. We had a long day of travel all the way back to Edmonchuck on 22.  I was getting run pretty haggard. But a band from Britain called Cock Sparrer still had to play! 

Hmm Cock Sparrer. More old guys I only found out about a few days beforehand. Reading on Wikipedia, I learn that these guys "are considered one of the most influential street punk bands of the era by groups over the coming decades, helping pave the way for the late 1970s punk scene and the Oi! subgenre"!
It was a great way to finish up. There was a No Use For A Name tribute back on the Budweiser stage, but I thought that after 2 days, 36 sets, I might head back to camp, hang out with some people there for a while. 

I did okay. 

Top 5 for Amnesia RockFest 2014:

5) Mute (just technically tight, with amazing sound, song, and ambience)
4) Implants (classy old guys keeping skate punk what it needs to be!)
2) Danzig + Doyle (one hell-raising performance)
1) Ignite (one of the best singers in music, with the most important songs ever written)

Honourable Mentions: Gaslight Anthem, Lagwagon, Dead Kennedys, BigWig, Strung Out. In the end, I caught 19 sets on one day and 17 sets on the other. That's a lot of music. Missing Suicidal Tendencies, and choosing to opt out of Alice In Chains were the decisions I made. I think that if I had someone else to do these shows with, then I might have had help making better decisions for some of it. But in the end, it was one heck of a party. I don't think it could ever possibly be beat.

I'm 3 from the left at The Implants show, and a new friend of mine happens to be 3 from the right!