Photos and words by Chris Bubinas. View the entire photo gallery
It was a weekend of community, crowd surfing, and mass headbanging as the beloved Heavy Montreal festival returned for their 10th edition following a one-year hiatus. Given the recent struggles of the neighborhood competition, Montebello Rockfest, the Montreal festival draws increased significance and predominance, and drew on thousands of fans from regions far and wide.
A smoldering two day endurance race saw 50+ bands flail themselves across four stages, as the crowd basked in the sun, and occasional torrential downpour. Flailing, drinking, running and stumbling between stages, the hordes of the black shirts soaked it all in.
The smallest stage featured numerous bands and an arsenal of diversity, as worthwhile bands like Allegaeon, Khemmis, The Agonist, Havok, Ginger and Jungle Rot got circle pits and dust clouds happening. That poor little section of forest, absolutely hammered.
The third stage played home to perhaps the most eclectic lineup, flittering between riot inducing acts from The Black Dahlia Murder and Warbringer to Glory Hammer to spooky throwback Sabbath pundits Witchcraft. Just yards away, some high energy, high impact wrestling took place at key times during the day. The mix of sounds and sights was very cool, at times you’d here drum fills for sound check at one stage, just before a massive body slam took place, with a massive crowd erupted in cheering as a song ends at another stage.
The main stages during the earlier hours provided a dose of nostalgia, classic Canadian bands like Voivod, Lee Aaron and Helix hammered out impressive performances. Seriously Helix was a real great show. But it’s what happened as twilight began to kick in, where thing got really interesting. Bands like Sleep, Demon Hunter, Trivium, Gojira, Alestorm and Baroness warmed the stage for main acts. French rockers Ultra Vomit had the crow in hysterics and moshing at near apocalyptic levels with their on-stage Looney Tune antics, combined with nearly-cover songs by influences like Rammstein, ACDC, Dimmu Borgir and Cannibal Corpse.
Headliners Rob Zombie had a particularly tight performance, and they thankfully wove several of the best White Zombie tracks into the setlist including More Human than Human and a well teased out version Thunder Kiss ’65. The set also saw them draw out opener Marylin Manson back onto the stage, having cancelled his performance two nights previous, there were worries he wouldn’t be able to perform. The second night saw a ballistic crown in front of Limp Bizkit headlining and filling in for Avenged Sevenfold who had to cancel their show.
A substantial, younger crowd piled in front of the main stage for a performance by Hollywood Undead. I hadn’t heard of these guys until the show, but think New Kids on the Block with asinine masks on, dancing around the stage, doing occasional covers of Metallica or Rammstein or their own songs. If this is at all a part of the future of heavy music, we need a world war to spice things up a bit, or for Dethklok to return, or hope the planet is sucked into the sun, or something… it was pretty awful.
Overall the fest provided an incredible, beautiful weekend with a real deep lineup. Vast amounts of thrashing were had. Were you at Heavy Montreal? What are the best and worst performances you soaked in? Let us know in the comments.