Another year of Amnesia Rockfest shenanigans has come and passed, and what a year it was. The 11th edition of Montebello, Quebec’s two day festival was jam packed with hugs, tears, fights, and couriously enough, a panda suit here and there.
This year was especially a treat for anyone who identifies with the music of the 90s. Bands like Sum 41, who most never (like myself) thought they’d ever get to see on stage again, and The Used, treated fans to energy filled sets that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
The first day was a force to be reckoned with. A day that I can honestly say, only had a couple disappointments, which unfortunately, both go to the members of Blink 182. Travis Barker having to cancel his solo set was quite disappointing, but seeing such a beloved band (Blink 182) put on such a disappointing set in the headlining slot, was far more dispiriting. While many Blink fans are accepting of Matt Skiba of Akaline Trio taking the place of Tom Delonge, supporters still expect to see a lively set when they head out to one of their shows. This was nothing of the sorts. Skiba was not charismatic with the crowd on any level, and the connection between him and Mark Hoppus was non-existent. Although Barker put on his usual high-powered performance, it did not pull away from the lack of emphasis put forth by the frontmen. Despite the lack of energy and enthusiasm, it’s always great to hear Blink 182 play live, and there were just as many pleased crowd members as there were disappointed, if not more.
The amount of bands to see on the first day of Rockfest 2016 had people running from one stage to the next, not wanting to miss a moment. The day started off with an astoundingly dynamic set by the Creepshow. The crowd was just as involved with the set as the band was with the crowd, and what else could you really ask for to kick off such an electric festival?
Other highlights of the day were sets from Against Me!, The Used, Mustard Plug, Sum 41, Billy Talent, and Korn. Laura Jane Grace brought a unique, wild, and incomparable performance to the Budweiser stage mid-day, with a presence to match the scorching heat. Against Me! has a way with their fans, and there is no mistaking the chemistry between bandmates there. Thrashing through their hits, old and new, they connected with the crowd to the point where you could see tears running down faces from left to right.
Unsurprisingly, the only band to leave the stage in shambles, throwing instruments array and jumping around like crazy, was The Used. Celebrating 15 years, the band was clearly ecstatic to be in the presence of so many loyal fans. A circle pit competition was inevitable, but they also stopped mid-way through their set to tell the crowd to be thankful for what they’ve got, take care of each other, and give the person beside them a hug. Looking out onto a crowd of drunk, sweaty music fans hugging it out after throwing each other around in a mosh pit is almost descriptive of the festival itself.
Of course, Brampton’s Billy Talent, never disappoints. The band is known for getting the crowd wild, and who could be surprised with Benjamin Kowalewicz’s energizer bunny-esque live persona.
Another Canadian favourite, Ajax’s Sum 41, came back with a vengeance. After years apart the band came to the stage with a couple new members, but the same outstanding, adrenaline fueled act. Die-hard fans were lined up long before the show, and the crowd was seemingly entranced. With all of the trials and tribulations that the band has faced over the past few years, people could not have been happier to welcome them back to the stage, and it was more than evident that the band was just as ecstatic to be back. Deryck Whibley overcame a serious addiction to alcohol, survived organ failure, and came back to give us his all on stage. What a recovery it was too, it’s quite the inspiration to see such a miraculous turn around for a man who had such a heavy influence on a generation.
All in all, day one of Rockfest 2016 was a blast from the past, a nostalgia filled trip through the sounds of an extremely angsty generation. Crowd surfers were a plenty, fists were pumping, and the screaming fans must have been audible from three towns away.