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pogo2posterFINAL2The Last Pogo Jumps Again studies the evolution of Toronto from small town to big city and it’s pop/counter-culture lifestyle during the early and mid-70s.  It centers around the first wave of Toronto punk rock and new-wave music, from the Ramones playing the New Yorker Theatre in ’76 through the police shutting down Teenage Head and causing a riot at the Horseshoe Tavern’s infamous “The Last Pogo” concert in December 1978.

London had the Sex Pistols, New York had the Ramones, but Toronto had a punk movement all it’s own.  The Toronto landscape by the late ’70s was forever changed with the infusion of the DIY/Punk/Alternative Culture(s) movement.  Six years in the making, The Last Pogo Jumps Again successfully explores the whys and wherefores of what was arguably one of the most exciting but misunderstood movements in Toronto’s history.

The DVD contains the 204 minute documentary, plus over a 100 minutes of added material, and a snazzy 24-page booklet.  Check the Shop for details on where you can purchase it.

The Last Pogo (1978) is the documentary that chronicled the last punk rock show at the Horseshoe Tavern when it was run by legendary Toronto promoters The Garys (Topp and Cormier) featuring The Scenics, Cardboard Brains, The Secrets, The Mods, The Ugly, The Viletones and Teenage Head. The Last Pogo was released on DVD in 2008 to great reviews.  Available at the Shop.

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So, does that song sound familiar?  Yup, the iconic Viletones tune “Possibilities” as performed by Nirvana (i.e. that 90’s band that sounded like any number of bands back in the late seventies.  But I guess we can’t diss Kurt too much if he had such good taste.)   The Diodes’ John Catto found this on his Internet machine, and turned us on to it via Facebook.   

Peter Noble chimed in from England and reminded us that it was co-written by Steven Davey and original Toronto punk Steven Leckie.  Davey, apart from starting The Dishes with Tony Malone, and later The Everglades, was a huge creative force in the late seventies Toronto scene, having penned not only that tune, but a bunch of others as well, including what was arguably the most popular Toronto-ish punk anthem, New York City for London, Ontario’s own Demics.

The Dent’s Michael Dent credits Steven with teaching him how to write a song, and the inimitable Lance Charles just couldn’t gush enough about Mr. Davey when we spoke a few weeks ago.   Steven currently writes about food for Now Magazine amongst other things, and has been on our interview hit-list for three years now, but stuff takes time, what can we say?


The Astor Theatre about 30 years before it became The New Yorker;  courtesy Toronto Archives.


Ticket to Talking Heads and The Scenics courtesy Gail Wetton.

Speaking of Steven Davey, one incident that sticks in our craw was his infamous heckling of The Scenics.  Ah, the poor misunderstood Scenics.  Having been discovered by Gary Topp (and later managed by The Garys) and looking for the perfect opening act for the Toronto debut of Talking Heads as a four-piece, Gary thought he’d do Toronto audiences a favour by surprising them with this awesomely creative and original new band.   But opening for the Heads was a primo gig that every band in Toronto wanted, and many thought they deserved.   One false move, much?   The resentment started to brew as soon as they were announced as the opening band.  Last Pogo Jumps Again co-director Colin Brunton recalls being so nervous for his friends that he became psychosomatically sick to his stomach and couldn’t bear to watch.  He crawled back home to St. Nicholas Street.   To a packed New Yorker house, The Scenics hit the stage and after maybe a song or two, Davey stood up in the crowd, cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled out “BORING!”   Funnily enough, thirty years later Gary Topp has conceded that in fact, The Dishes might actually have been a better opener, but that was then, this is now.

The Scenics stoically continued on for another five years before finally calling it quits.   To paraphrase Brunton’s liner-notes from their upcoming CD release Sunshine World (more very cool news on that later) “…they were outsiders in a group of outsiders.  The didn’t dress the part, or go to the right parties.  They were weirdos: one of them played barefoot, and the drummer sometimes sported a beard. Their fans were proud but few.”

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