On December 1, 1978, legendary Toronto promoters the Garys threw their last punk show at the Horseshoe Tavern. Eight-hundred kids packed into the ‘Shoe to watch their favourite acts from across the GTA. Before headliners Teenage Head could count in their second song, plainclothes cops rushed into the club and busted the whole thing up. Punks spilled out into Queen Street and caused a little brouhaha. Filmmaker Colin Brunton’s short doc The Last Pogo captures the historic show, a landmark in Canadian punk rock and a vital document of first wave punk in Ontario.
To commemorate the 35th anniversary of The Last Pogo show, Brunton has released a whopping three-and-a-half-hour doc, The Last Pogo Jumps Again, using the Horseshoe show as the centrepiece in a wider exploration of punk in Southern Ontario in the 1970s. And to make it an extra special birthday, CBC Music invited Fucked Up, Canada’s most esteemed, most friendly-faced ambassadors to punk rock, to cover a few gems in the same scuzzy room (our own CBGB or Max’s Kansas City, as Effed Up drummer Jonah Falco says) that they were bashed out in three and a half decades back. Listen to the originals and watch the Fucked Up versions below.
The Secrets, “Teenage Rampage”
Sometimes the difference between pub rock and punk is a good amphetamine dealer. Toronto’s The Secrets were a rhythm and blues-leaning punk rock act, newly formed at the time of The Last Pogo, made from the spare parts of The Diodes and The Viletones (two more GTA legends in the long history of Can-punk) when three-quarters of the Viles decided to jump ship and the leave the Iggy-aping Nazi Dog all by his lonesome.
The Ugly, “Disorder”
The Ugly were a bunch of Toronto street toughs who developed a healthy rivalry with The Viletones. They weren’t strangers to the occasional B&E or a little gun play at band practice. Supposedly, all of their gear was stolen. Legend has it that singer Mike Nightmare was thrown in the loonie bin and staged his own escape by hot-wiring what turned out to be the police sergeant’s car. Of course, turbulent things don’t last long, The Ugly packed it in a year or so after The Last Pogo.
Cardboard Brains, “I Wanna Be a Yank”
Playing tirelessly through ’77, Cardboard Brains were one of the acts to define the Queen Street punk club circuit. Artier than many of The Last Pogo bands, their first release, The White EP, already delved into what we’d now call post-punk and new wave — a direction they followed on subsequent releases. Listen to them spit bile here on the homeland; the kids at U of T are still rotting and the CBC’s shows are still trash.
Teenage Head, “Picture My Face”
Like Damian says, this song should be imprinted in the DNA of every Canadian punk kid. Scratch that, every punk period. “Picture My Face” is a total anthem. Hamilton’s beloved Teenage Head have been written up in the big book of rock as Canada’s Ramones, but that’s mostly just a misbegotten marketing play that’s hung around a little too long. Brunton released The Last Pogo on DVD in 2008 in tribute to lead singer Frankie Venom’s death that year (here’s footage of the one song they got to play). Sure, Teenage Head holds a choice spot in the pantheon of Canadian punk greats, but their legacy belongs up their right alongside all of those cats from New York and Detroit that we hold so dear.