Our roving Canadian reporter hits up one of The Great White North’s biggest metal festivals – part one!
Over the weekend of August 10th and 11th, I was fortunate enough to be in the beautiful city of Montreal for their annual Heavy MTL open air festival. I attended last year as well, and I can say that, at least in my opinion, this year had a slightly better lineup. Don’t get me wrong, last year’s showing of Gojira, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Voivod was amazing, but how do you argue with the likes of Wintersun, Amon Amarth, Pallbearer, Mastodon, and Finntroll this year? You can’t, plain and simple.
The following is my account of the festival. I didn’t take many photos, since I was in the pits most of the time and I had no desire to lose my phone while trying to get a blurry, far away shot of a band you’ve all seen pictures of anyways. Also, I was hit in the head a couple times, so that plus beer means this account is probably somewhat sketchy. The weather was gorgeous, and so were the French-Canadian girls. This is The Monolith Goes to Heavy MTL!
Part I: Saturday
We entered the festival grounds and were greeted by what sounded like the death scream of dying cattle. Or it might have been Hellyeah. Anyways, my brother and I got nicely settled in at the Molson Canadian stage to wait for GWAR. I had never seen GWAR before, though I knew what to expect. Or I thought I did. I never imagined the spectacle that would take place. Right off the bat, they cut a woman’s head off, and had fake blood spewing all over the first rows. Next, they brought out a guy dressed as Adolf Hitler and proceeded to tear his face off, and dismember him. Jesus was brought out as well, on a cross, and subsequently torn apart. And Oderus Urungus fought a guy in a battle mech suit, running him through with his own arm. So basically GWAR is a stage production rather than a band. Absolutely worth seeing live at least once, if not more.
I don’t think I need to introduce you to Steel Panther. They are unavoidable, and for damn good reason; they rule. Their schtick is hair metal parody, and most of the time, that should be enough to send anyone running the other way, but Steel Panther back it up with some really good songs, combined with beautiful comedy. Their stage banter was probably even more hilarious than their lyrical content, and their music is just damn fun. Full confession; I’d gotten tired of them until this show, which restored my interest in them. The best part is that they are clearly intelligent guys who just play the dumb hair metal thing for kicks. Numbers like “Eyes of a Panther”, “Death To All But Metal” and “Asian Hooker” are really good, high energy glam anthems, and don’t pretend that an entire audience of people singing along to “Community Property” isn’t amazing on every level. The only disappointment was the lack of boobs from the audience, but oh well. You can’t win ‘em all, and that’s what the internet is for anyways.
At The Gates
Pioneers of Gothenburg melodic death metal sound, At The Gates recently reunited in 2010 after not doing much since 1996, aside from a brief stint in 2007. I wanted to see them more because they are a legendary act than of how much I liked them. They played a damn fine set, including a fantastic cover of Slayer’s “Captor of Sin“. Some material from the seminal Slaughter Of the Soul album capped off an excellent set, one that unfortunately felt far too short. I don’t really have too much else to say about them, aside from kudos to the guy in a dress shirt and tie that was in the moshpit.
The metal legends were in fine enough form this night. Aside from a guest appearance from David Draiman, and a couple songs from the unfortunately bad SuperCollider, Megadeth were excellent, and even those couple of songs sounded decent in the live setting. Dave’s getting older, so his voice wasn’t as good as it used to be, especially on “Symphony of Destruction” and “Skin O My Teeth“, but his guitar work, and the work of Chris Broderick, was as razor sharp as ever. It was also amazing to hear the whole crowd sing “A Tout Le Monde“. I left just before their encore “Holy Wars”, because I wanted a good spot for Wintersun, who were up next on the third stage, but I could hear it in the distance, and it sounded absolutely vicious.
This would be my second time seeing the fearsome Fins, they once again blew me completely away. The first time, my experience was slightly marred by getting kicked in the face and having my glasses broken, and then getting poked in the eye by a drunk and inquisitive friend. Neither of that happened this time, so already this time was a slight improvement. The experience of seeing the mighty Wintersun play songs such as “Death And The Healing” and “Sons of Winter and Stars” under a perfectly black summer sky, with stage lights blazing is absolutely tantalizing. It was non-stop wonderfully crafted melodic symphonic death metal, with Jari leading the charge. If you haven’t seen Wintersun at all, please do so at the next possible opportunity; it is a potentially life-changing experience. The sound wasn’t great at first – the guitar was hard to hear – but that was fixed fairly fast. By the time they had ripped through all of Time I as well as cuts from the first album such as “Starchild”, and “Death and the Healing”, the crowd was in frenzy and not willing to go. The playing of a new song “The Way of the Fire” only whetted our appetite even more, but sadly all good things must end. We were forced to join the real world again, thus closing an excellent first day to the festival.
I spent a few more hours at the Montreal metal bar called Katacombes, drinking with my brother. It wasn’t very lively in there, so we just sat, drank a pitcher each, and got accidentally locked in by the staff who hadn’t realized we were there.
Check back tomorrow for part two, featuring Amon Amarth, Children Of Bodom, Danzig, Finntroll, Mastodon, Pallbearer, Sick of it All, Unexpect, and Xibalba!