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Amnesia Rockfest 2014 – Day One

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Amnesia Rockfest - Montebello - Day 1-8419

Amnesia Rockfest 2014 – Day One

Day One of Amnesia ROCKFEST 2014 exceeded expectations, but with the caliber of bands on the first day’s lineup frankly it would be hard not to.

A typical journey to Montebello from across the provincial border to Ontario begins with a ferry ride. After floating over the Ottawa River, a Rockfest traveller is subject to a rolling drive through the Quebecois countryside. Towns all around Montebello display signs reading “Bon Festivale!” and offering accommodations to festivalgoers. Rockfest creator Alex Martel says that many local businesses make their entire year in the two-day music festival.

Over the past nine years since Martel started Rockfest at 17-years-old, it has grown into Canada’s largest rock festival. Hosted in southern Quebec, 45 minutes from Ottawa and about an hour and a half from Montreal, every year the sleepy French Canadian town of Montebello gets taken over by tens of thousands of music appreciators from all over the world, not unlike White Lake’s Woodstock. Different from Woodstock however, Amnesia Rockfest has had a chance to learn from their mistakes.

Last year’s notorious problems were solved with the help of new partnerships Montreal promotional companies. Wristbands were mailed out beforehand, security was adequately prepped, organization was improved and most importantly, porta-potties were almost as common as mohawks. Almost.

Here are some of the bands we got to check out on the first day:

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New Found Glory

New Found Glory played the festival on the heels of finishing the recording process for their new album. The band played a tight set to the pumped up main stage crowd. Jordan Pundik’s familiar vocals ran through the air and tapped listeners on the head, drawing them closer to the stage. Friendly stage banter and a fresh-faced crowd made for fun, lively performances from both sides of the barrier.

The Gaslight Anthem

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The Gaslight Anthem serenaded Montebello with their cathartic rock jams. Brian Fallon delivered a great performance and together with the band the sound was very aurally alluring.

The Planet Smashers

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The Planet Smashers delivered an energetic set and played to the crowd like it was their home turf. The Canadian ska band had people skanking, and with their fun, groovy riffs they rolled the crowd up tightly and lit them up. Honourable mentions to the horn section for spicing up the crowd with a taste of brass.

Between The Buried and Me

Musicians and fans alike crowded over to the Jagermeister Stage as Between The Buried and Me enveloped the field with their sound. Musicians who have practiced and perfected their sound can never disappoint. Vocals, guitars and drums danced from head to head and began the Jager Stage’s descent into melodic chaos.

NOFX

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NOFX proved that they are still relevant to crowd of punk hungry adolescents. The band played main stage and clearly had a fantastic time, good enough that Fat Mike could be caught hanging around the festival grounds and even joining in on the Punk Rock Karaoke.

Taking Back Sunday

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Taking Back Sunday seemed to really enjoy their time at Rockfest, joking around and having cigarettes behind the stage. Adam Lazzara had a few vocal issues combined with a poor sound mix dampened the performance for some but many of the mesmerized preteens in the front row had no problems. The band executed the songs solidly and provided as a great interactive backdrop for Lazzara’s characteristic dancing and microphone swinging. The set was a well-planned list of new and classic tunes.

Brand New

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Watching a Brand New performance you never know what you are going to get. The band has built such a reputation for being mysterious and alluring by not revealing much of their inner workings and continuing to impress anyone with ears. Jesse Lacey can’t seem to sing off key if he tried and the experimental sounds and guitar licks tossed between him and lead guitarist Vincent Accardi (despite some pedal and gear issues that were eventually resolved), matched the intensity of the sound waves and complimented their stalwart vocal cries. Brian Lane and Garrett Tierney pumped the sounds and songs to life with pointed bass lines and perfectly hit drum beats. After the set I caught up with Lacey for an “off the record” conversation, and the majorly inspirational songwriter was not only friendly and down to earth, but truly interested in asking about my life as well. My personal favourite performance of the day.

Weezer

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Weezer did not disappoint and boasted their quirky, nerd rock for everyone to dance to. Always on point, their horn-rimmed glasses and catchy pop rock songs brought the sun to a set and primed the crowd for the day’s biggest act.

Blink-182

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The pop-punk legends closed the main stage on day one. As Tom Delonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker were sporadically spotted around the festival anticipation for the set grew. Travis walking with his kids, Mark jamming with H20 and the whole band standing side stage for NOFX. After an introduction by Alex Martel and a tense wait, Blink-182 exploded onto the stage with the favourite opener, Dumpweed. The boys were particularly hilarious and juvenile with their on stage back and fourths; there was no shortage of jokes about farts, oral sex, comdoms and male-to-crowd sexual relations. The show is still great even though Delonge’s vocals don’t have the same umph as the older days. Hoppus bounced around on stage and joked with the band as they pleased a massive festival of fans. Barker played the mandatory drum solo and the silent but deadly drummer forgot to miss any beats. Martel says that he sent numerous offers for Blink to play but they were doubtful of leaving the studio as they are in mid recording process. However, relentlessness and a stacked lineup of their friends must have convinced the aging pop punkers to agree. Toward the end of the set Hoppus announced they would be playing two more songs, going away for a bit then coming back to play two more, “what’s known in the business as an encore.” The encore entailed everyone’s favourite explicit song “Family Reunion” which had almost the entire town violently, but melodically, cussing each other out. The show ended with a guest appearance from Fat Mike and Delonge passionately, beautifully and harmoniously singing: “I fucked your mom.”

Day One had come to a close for our team.

 

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Written by Griffin Elliot

Photographs by Andrej Ivanov

THE SCENE


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