Amongst the dirt, mosh pits and the pungent smell of stale beer wavering in the air, I found myself in the middle of Fattal Fest. This raunchy punk fest, occurring once a year, is home to the city’s biggest punk community.
I should mention now that I’m not one to frequent Fattal’s punk shows, although I have been to one or two (which, in hindsight, was not at all enough to feel prepared for this festival). I was, in the moment, still trying to attune myself to the whole punk-vibe, which is, more than anything, kind of similar to being pretty drunk among a hundred or two of your shit-faced-wasted best friends who find it fun to push each other into walls (which I did take part in, and enjoyed, minus the bruises).
When I arrived, I instantly felt out of place with my big fancy camera. I got there in time to see the last band of the night perform on the outdoor stage. Fatal Flaw, a Montreal-based band who identify themselves as “Thrashing Crust Punk Fury,” really seemed to catch the attention of the crowd. By the strong presence of their female vocalist letting out her guttural growling, I finally felt grounded and relieved in an environment that seemed to be more or less dominated by men.
The rest of the night seemed to take on a mind of its own. My girlfriend recognized a friend of hers in the crowd and we took it from there. Finding familiar faces brought me to a state of genuine enjoyment.
We ended up in a small red loft, one of the venues at Fattal. While the band was preparing for their show downstairs, we claimed our spot on an empty black couch upstairs. There was a gate around the entire upstairs floor, giving the venue a kind of creepy, jail-type feeling with a hint of MMA-match inspiration (I asked myself if this gate is for decoration or just in case some drunk guy falls off the ledge of the loft’s upper deck).
It was unfortunate that the venue was so small, although I guess that it was part of the charm to see band and crowd become one. The way punks thrash around is very different from what you’d see elsewhere – caught somewhere between dancing, stumbling and street-fighting, there is no way to predict who will be the last man (or woman) standing.
Although there was a definite undercurrent of this violent-esque pursuit of self-expression, I have to note that when I entered the mosh pit and threw myself around like a pinball in a pinball machine, the guy standing next to me was quick to help me up when I fell down. Obviously the members of the punk scene are used to constant scrutiny and judgment, but in this small red room filled with loud music, alcohol and drugs, all of that disappeared. What I was left with was a feeling of community; a certain strength and pride built on the common understanding of what it is like to be an outsider.
(photos by Bree Rockbrand, click first image below to start slideshow)
Fattal Fest 2014