Words & Amnesia Rockfest Photos By Amber James
A week or so ago I took the journey up north to the tiny little mountain town of Montebello, Quebec, with a population just under 1,000, I was one of the tens of thousands that convened on it for the insanity that is Amnesia Rockfest.
Having arrived the previous night at around three am and on roughly four hours of sleep, I properly started my day off with saying farewell to the great Lionheart, a California hardcore band making the rounds of their final tour before they break up. Being a fixture in the hardcore scene for twelve years, they have to decide to sadly call it quits. With Amnesia being one of their last Canadian tour dates ever, they went harder than ever during their set. Getting a taste of home for myself with Sean Mott, formerly of Syracuse band GhostxShip, it was a blast seeing them rage for one final time on stage. Their set was peppered with the perfect list to pit to with such songs as ‘Brothers Keeper’, ‘Rat’ and then they closed out their set with their anthem of sorts, ‘LHHC’.
Insane Clown Posse
Next up was a complete change of pace as I headed over to the main stage for Insane Clown Posse and the inevitable shower of Faygo that was to accompany their set. I wasn’t completely sure what to expect as I watched all the security guards for the stage don ponchos and sunglasses to shield themselves from the sugary carbonation. Positioning myself a further distance from the stage than normal, I awaited what I was sure to be an interesting experience having never seen or shot ICP before. The duo took to the stage, hyping the crowd up, and opening with ‘The Neden Song’. Soon a quartet of clowns took to the stage with them, their sole job being to spray the numerous two liter bottles of Faygo over the crowd. After their intro and first song, they followed it up with ‘Chicken Huntin’, swapping out the Faygo for feathers to cover the sticky crowd.
The next main stage act was Against Me! so at this point we had pretty much ran the gambit of musical genres and it was only around two or three pm. Starting their set off, the fantastic Laura Grace and company took the stage opening up with fan favorite ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist’. Having seen Laura Grace on her intimate solo tour back during the winter, I was excited to see her and the rest of the band in the full band setting. With as intimate as her solo tour was, this set was just as high energy as that was.
Following their set, it was time for one of my most anticipated sets and favorite bands of the festival. The Used was performing their sophomore release In Love and Death in full at the festival, in between legs of their fifteen year anniversary tour. To an overwhelming set of cheers, vocalist Bert McCracken ran out on stage and seemed to direct the crowd as a conductor through the opening notes of ‘Take It Away’ to sing along with him. Someone must’ve fed him with a dose of Energizer Bunny as he bounced around the stage, flinging himself and his arms across the stage. As he did so, guitarist, Justin Shekoski, and bassist, Jeph Howard, provided the rhythm as fans screamed along to songs such as ‘I Caught Fire’, ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘All That I’ve Got’.
Jetting over to the Tony Sly stages to catch Silverstein, I was treated to some of the best throwback and current emo and post-hardcore jams from this Canadian quintet. Silverstein has always been one of those bands that has been a stalwart in this scene, a band that turned me onto heavier music. Over the past few years, getting to shoot them as many times as I have has made the emo kid inside me thrilled. Not to mention the fact that besides the songs, guitarist, Paul Marc Rousseau, and bassist, Josh Bradford, are some of my favorite people to take live photos of. If you’re not screaming along to ‘Smashed Into Pieces’ and ‘My Heroine’ you definitely missed out on some formative emo years and doing life wrong. Don’t worry, Silverstein is still here to help.
With Silverstein having started off the throwback portion of the day, Underoath provided a convincing second act. Having already caught them on their Rebirth tour a couple months previous, I was excited to see how much energy the band could squeeze into a normal length set now compared to their marathon set on the tour. Underoath is one of those bands that come out high energy from the split second start of their set and it never wanes. I’m convinced it has to be all those years of not being onstage for some and having to release the energy. Starting off with the lead song, ‘Breathing in a New Mentality’, off Lost in the Sound of Separation, the band transitioned to songs off Define the Great Line and They’re Only Chasing Safety with ‘In Regards to Myself’ and ‘Young and Aspiring’. Chris Dudley’s spirit fingers were in full effect as he manned the synth and electronics to complement Tim McTague’s guitar licks. Meanwhile Spencer Chamberlain’s hair whips and head bangs were accompanied by a few on point mic swings. Underoath is back and better than ever. Their passion and energy never left, it’s finally back in the best sort of form. If you have the chance to catch them on tour, drop everything and proceed past (down, set) go to get as close as you can to the barricade and scream the lyrics back in their faces as loud as you can.
For the third throwback of the day, it was back to the main stage for Sum 41, who were making an appearance in Quebec before heading down to Texas to join up with Warped Tour for the rest of the summer. Opening up with ‘The Hell Song’, it was like it was 2003 all over again. Already thinking that I was in an alternate universe by watching them live, then I watched as a fan crowd surfed up to the front of the crowd with a freshly caught bass from the lake. Following that moment, Deryck Whibley called fans up onto stage to join them before ripping into the second song off of Does This Look Infected with ‘Over My Head’. The rest of their set was peppered with songs from that album as well as their sophomore release All Killer No Filler.
Finally, the ultimate throwback of the evening had arrived as it was time for Blink 182 to headline the first night on the main stage. This set coming shortly before the release of their comeback album, California, the trio of Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker and new heralded addition, Matt Skiba took to the stage to the excitement of fans and photographers alike. Opening up with one of the fan favorites from their self titled release, ‘Feeling This’, it was almost like they had never been gone for the last five years. For their second song, they played one of the songs they’re best known for, ‘What’s My Age Again’ and if you weren’t singing along then you were doing it all wrong. Playing a twenty song set with an additional three song encore, it was everything you could’ve wished for in their set. Comprised of songs from nearly their entire discography, it was the perfect way to end the first night of the festival.