January 22, 2009

The Last Pogo

The Last Pogo: The Ugly
The Ugly @ The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, Ontario - December 1, 1978.

It was a punk party that lasted for nine months. The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, Ontario closed it doors on December 1st, 1978. The two promoters known as The Garys (Topp and Cormier) had booked their favourite acts for a big final blast. Movie student Colin Brunton was there to capture the event for a short documentary aptly titled The Last Pogo. Band after band hit the stage until the cops broke it up, allowing the final act Teenage Head to play just one song. The crowd smashed about 200 chairs and the promoters moved to a new venue called The Edge.

Fast forward to 2008. The Last Pogo enters the digital age with a re-release on DVD, with bonus footage of The Scenics playing their surprisingly new wave sounding stuff with off beat lyrics about wanting to go out, catch a fish and eat it. Not exactly punk, but back then acts like the Talking Heads were branded as a punk band too.

The Last Pogo

Watching The Last Pogo footage is a pleasure. The acts were terribly young, trying to look angry if it killed them. The crowd is visibly drunk, lots of them strung out on pills and chain smoking. There are a few dropouts, the sound is muffled, it shows more nipples than the Superbowl people would allow, and the camera work is not particularly steady (try to get near a stage with your camera amidst a inebriated, jumping audience). So who cares? Punk wasn't supposed to sound hi-fi. It would have been nice to have some subtitles introducing the interviewees -- you had be there to recognize everyone. Among the DVD extras is an alternate version which has Viletone Chris Haight’s on screen commentary -- although he doesn't know all the names.

Directors Colin Brunton and Kire Paputts are hunting down the bands and eyewitnesses for an update that will be called The Last Pogo Jumps Again. They have over 200 hours of tape right now, and they still want more.

The Last Pogo features Teenage Head, Viletones, The Ugly, The Mods, The Secrets, The Cardboard Brains and The Scenics. Released on Dream Tower Records.

» thelastpogo.net

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