It’s almost impossible to go to ’77 Montreal and not get a little nostalgic. The very name of the festival harkens back to the fabled year of 1977 where punk rock was officially “born”. Obviously part of the point of this festival is to celebrate the past, present and future of all things punk rock.

But things can get blurry with that mission statement. Because after all, what is punk rock? Swinging by the Cinema ’77 we learned about the band Television who were active several years before 1977 and had a sound that doesn’t have much to do with the modern definition of punk. But, for lack of a better definition, Television is punk rock.

Thankfully, punk rock is more of a mindset than it is a fixed form of music.

L7 hit the height of their popularity in the 90’s with what was basically a grunge hit “Pretend We’re Dead”. But, a second of seeing them on stage tells you that they fit the bill for punk show. Without missing a step after their hiatus they even brought out new material like “Dispatch From Mar-a-Lago” to show that they’re still just as interested in being brash provocateurs as they were in the 90’s.

Ska has always been punk rock’s kissing cousin. The two scenes had huge amounts of overlap, particularly here in Montreal. The Planet Smashers could tell you all about it (they talk about getting rushed by skinheads back in the day on our podcast interview with them) as one of Montreal’s legendary ska bands. I marveled as fans who might not have even been born in 1999 belted along the lyrics to “Life of the Party” and knew to get down low without prompting for the 10 count in “Surfin’ in Tofino” (the old school method of dividing up the pit and having both sides crash into each other was retired a while ago).

Back in “the day” (the day in my case being the late 90’s and early 2000’s) there was one constant on the dancefloor at Foufounes Electriques: at one point in the night the music would come to a dead stop and after a moment’s pause the opening (vocal only) of “You’ve Gotta Die for the Government” by Anti-Flag would spark the dancefloor into a frenzied moshpit. Which of course it did at Parc Jean Drapeau yesterday. One part nostalgia and one part just really good music.

The Interrupters were a rare treat for me. I was always more into ska than straight up punk rock. And sadly there are fewer and fewer “new” ska bands around. The Interrupters formed in 2011 which, in ska years, makes them fresh as a baby. Produced by punk rock legend Tim Armstrong, The Interrupters have a tight ska-punk sound that fans of the more ska slanted Rancid or Operation Ivy songs will definitely appreciate. The band informed us they had just played Jimmy Kimmel the night before so maybe, just maybe, we’re about to see ska rise in popularity again (we’re due for the 4th wave of ska aren’t we?).

A personal highlight for me was when Me First and the Gimme Gimmes played their set. A guy beside us was getting really upset. He was complaining that they were not a real band; they were just comedians. He also was not pleased that they only played covers. I don’t know how you don’t know what you’re in for in 2018 when Me First hits the stage but this guy was apparently that guy. The current incarnation of Me First even includes a member of the most iconic punk band of them all: CJ Ramone (although CJ was not an original Ramone). I get the impression that if Spike Slawson and company knew that there was someone out there not aware of their act they would have gotten a hell of a kick out of it.

In a show that (for me) was all about reliving some of the glory of youth, no act fully embodied the fading of that youth like Jeff Rosenstock. Jeff is only a few months older than I am. He was in his first punk band in 1995 (making him 13 years old at the time) and was on tour shortly afterwards. He was probably the act that Scott was most excited for on our preview podcast. Rosenstock’s solo material deals heavily with the themes of aging and not being as cool as he perhaps once was. It’s oddly poignant at a festival built so much around the history and legacy of punk. How many kids that had punk bands in the 90’s have had to give up their punk rock dreams, get married, have kids and take a desk job? Many of Rosenstock’s songs seem to address just that.

Finally, after taking in a few songs from Rise Against, we headed over to see legendary Canadian rockers D.O.A. tear it up with authority before heading home.

Check out some of the best of Scott’s shots on our Facebook page:

Scott is a writer and founder at 9to5. He’s a host on The 9to5 Entertainment System and does a lot of the graphic design around these parts.

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

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