Canada’s Heavy Montreal (Aug 7-8-9, 2015) is a 3-day, 4-stage outdoor festival that lasts from Friday-Sunday. Like any festival, it’s all about the music, but there isn’t just music, and every year the festival makes vast improvements.
This year saw a slight change of the site map; stages were placed in a way that allowed for a better flow of people from the food, washrooms and souvenir stands. There was also the addition of the VIP terrace, and phone charging stations. Not everyone was happy with some of the changes, however, that was due largely to the decision to include more rock and punk acts, hence the name change from Heavy MTL to Heavy Montreal after six incarnations.
NOFX on Saturday and Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg on Sunday really got people fist-pumping and moshing. What was great is that even if you’re a metal-only type, and don’t want “more brains!” from bands such as the local psychobilly act The Brains, who started a wonderful circle pit at the Apocalypse stage, was that there were so many bands playing and so many awesome things to do, that an amazing time was pretty much guaranteed. Heavy Montreal also saw wrestling in the form of Heavy Mania, and l’musee du Rock’n’Roll bus. That said, I was there for the Metal!
Friday’s lineup included Quebec acts Gorguts & Anonymus who shredded to mosh-ready crowds. It was a great way to start the festival, and was the first ever time that I’ve actually seen a sex doll moshing! The incarnation of Venom Inc. & death metal act Cattle Decapitation saw big crowds too. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth was a last minute addition to the Heavy Montreal schedule, they are
currently on tour with Neurosis, who also played later in the night on the Apocalypse stage. I was especially excited, like many others were, for Arch Enemy that day and in true Arch Enemy fashion, they wowed the crowd with a strong finish. Former Montrealer Alissa White-Gluz brought the goods with her great voice, and mesmerized the fans with her blue hair and hoisting of a Quebec flag. Arch Enemy & Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis had us all banging our heads and it was exciting to know Metal Nation Radio would have an Interview with him later in the day, to talk about his musical career.
Korn hit the main stage on Friday, something which I had been anticipating as a long-time fan because they were playing their self titled album in its entirety. They didn’t need any fancy fire and light show, it had the basics and every fan left more than satisfied. It was a glorious treat and I was so close I managed to grab a guitar and a bass pick, I left day one on a real high note!
Saturday was a whole other sunshine filled beast, and let me tell you, it included a wide variety of great metal, like American metal band Battlecross, whose drummer also played with the 80’s thrashers Testament that day. Lita Ford released a ch-ch-cherry bomb on the crowd and heck I even snagged a pick there too! Gojira took to the Heavy stage and they definitely lived up to the namesake of heavy. Abbath was one of the more theatrical death metal acts with lots of corpsepaint to prove it. Saturday wouldn’t be a full day if I didn’t mention the interview with local band The Agonist, who packed the forest stage and had fans climbing the trees to see them!
We also had interviews that day with Canadian Devin Townsend, his humor and intelligence were very apparent even during his live show, where he made reference to his “Princess Leia” headphones. That day I had tried to split my time between Dying Fetus, Battlecross (who have a new album on the way), and Iggy Pop, when I should have picked just one, though I do recall the glistening wrinkled thrusting that took place onstage during Iggy Pop’s “Wild One.” Faith No More closed out the night with a stage of flowers and white outfits, playing some songs from their self-released album Sol Invictus. With so many bands playing at the same time it was difficult to see them all, I had managed about 34, despite missing early Sunday afternoon which included some of my most anticipated acts like Coal Chamber, who have reformed after a 10 year hiatus (with an interview that can be heard here, on Metal Nation Radio), and our good friends, Exes for Eyes, who performed one of the largest group hugs metal has ever seen.
With a late beginning, I had started Sunday off with Andrew W.K on vocals for Blitzkreig, who then got me hopped up and ready to go with Ramones tunes. Asking Alexandria were up next and boy did their fans mosh to that, there was even a wall of death. Not long after, a friend of mine managed to get me side stage for Sanctuary, and I loved being that close to the music. I wasn’t familiar with the next band I saw, Within Temptation before I arrived, but they really had me surprised with their amazing stage presence, this day just kept getting better and continued to do so. There was an interview with Sandveiss, who turned out to really enjoy Metal Nation Radio because of our own DJHellyeah. They were a great bunch of guys, and like that we play them on our station.
One of the craziest parts of the day, as again I had to be in two places at once to enjoy both Lamb of God and Nuclear Assault, side stage. I was glad to team up with with my coworker Namita, who earlier in the day interviewed those in Nuclear Assault. We then ran off to catch Lamb of God keep it aggressive and epic, a perfect blend to get approximately 13,000 people ready for the headliners, Slipknot.
By this point the VIP section was full, so into the main crowd I went for a little mosh session. A few bruises later and I was feeling much better about the day as it had started with some problems, but that just got me more pumped to get out that frustration during Slipknot! This was maybe the fifth time I’ve seen them and I’m still impressed every time. Now if you’ve never been to a Slipknot show, you need to. Corey Taylor is a great front man, and he manages to bond the crowd into one, I guess that’s why when the crowd surges they call themselves maggots. When you come to a large festival such as this one, you need a plan of attack (as you may have deduced from my running around) because the bands are lined up in succession, they always have you moving, and movement leads to hunger, hunger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.
The food trucks are always great addition to Heavy Montreal and they were placed so you could eat and watch the shows while you waited in line. There were astroturf mats placed along the dirt to extend the sitting area from the mountain, so finding a place to take a break was never a problem. Another great addition for all you environmentalist alcoholics that I really loved, and saw that it made an impact, was the reusable plastic beer cup called an Ecocup, you buy the 500ml cup full, and when you wanted a re-fill you could have it at a cheaper price. This greatly reduced garbage and provided a nifty souvenir with logo at the end of the show. Now there is something special about festivals like this that have over 70 bands playing during the course of the weekend, the stages are set a short walking distance apart and timed so well that your fellow metal heads will journey in unison. I call it the Metal Migration. If you’re up for it, you can see every single band for about 15 minutes too, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The metal heads roam the grounds together and I want to say that you might be scared to go to a concert by yourself, but you are never alone at any metal show. I’ve found out by attending all Heavy Montreal events and hundreds of concerts that the metal community is a family, and friends can be found and made in the pit, in the lines, and even after the show. Don’t be intimidated by the size of the event, and come join the festival!
In the end, we all share a bond, and that bond is music! United we rock!