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Canadian Musician Does Heavy Montreal 2015 – Day 1

Monday, August 10th, 2015
AOF MTL

Alexisonfire at Heavy Montreal 2015

Canadian Musician correspondent Adam Kovac was at Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau this weekend, enjoying some loud sounds and cheap suds at the 2015 edition of Heavy Montreal. Here are his findings from Day 1:

The first thing that needs to be said about Heavy Montreal 2015 is that the festival is most notable for who is not there.

After hosting Metallica last year, it’s kind of inevitable that the fest would come crashing down to Earth a bit. While the lineup for Day 1 had some pretty solid acts (and one really remarkable one which we’ll get to), there is simply no topping the biggest metal band in the world, especially with the cancellation of what might be the most interesting band in metal today, Mastodon.

Parc Jean-Drapeau was mostly empty as Toronto’s The Flatliners kicked things off. Their brand of melodic punk shows just how hard Heavy is trying to rebrand itself as a home to all kinds of hard rock, rather than just metal. While the crowd was small and somewhat listless, the band delivered a pretty decent set, all things considered.

After some wondering around the grounds, I settled in to take in Strung Out. While you can always count on energy from a hardcore punk band, bad sound seemed to hamper the performance. (At least for me. The monitors could have been aces, but the vocals were totally lost in the house mix.) The crowd had swelled, but it was still easy to get to the front row. Perhaps that’s because a sizeable crowd was amassing at the other main stage for Arch Enemy, who were on next.

Arch Enemy have their stage show down and in some ways, this was a triumphant homecoming for the band. While boasting Swedes and Americans, they’ve recently added Montrealer Alyssa White-Gluz as their frontwoman. Their brand of technical metal won the crowd over, and with that, it was time to check out some lesser known bands.

This is where some of the true gems came through. I had checked out Texas’ Nothing More on YouTube prior to the festival and they were… ok. There was no indication that they might be the single strangest, most entertaining live show that Heavy would see this year. I want to describe the bizarre spectacle of the bassist, guitarist, and singer all playing the same bass at once (one of them using drum sticks), but quite frankly, I’m exhausted and still somewhat drunk. Just trust me: this is a great live band. When they stuck to more, uh, traditional instrumentation, Nothing More was locked into a groove. Nothing flashy, but good, catchy hard rock backed up with some truly great bass playing.

Let me say this: it was good to have Moneen back. They warned the crowd that no metal would be coming from them, but their emo-punk was well-received on one of the side stages. Age has mellowed the band a bit – not in terms of how hard they rock, but in how comfortable they are with each other and on stage. Easy banter and a stage show that featured an adorable toddler wandering onstage were highlights, but singer Kenny Bridges nailed a popular sentiment of the day. “As soon as we’re done, we’re heading over to watch Alexisonfire.”

There was a lot of hype around the big reunion. After a less than amicable split, I was curious to see how the band would interact onstage. Would it be a listless performance, indicative of a shameless cash grab?

Luckily, it was anything but. A huge crowed screamed its approval as they opened with “Accidents.” The only disappointment was that the set was only an hour long. For a band that hadn’t toured in five years, they were tight, delivering songs from all eras. While the band admittedly broke up because Dallas Green wanted to pursue the mellower sounds of his City & Colour project, even he was able to let loose and rock out a bit. If this is truly the last tour for Alexisonfire, they’re going out on a high note (and probably with a pretty solid pay cheque).

And finally, there was Korn, who were… Korn. They still have dreads, they still have bagpipes, and they still aren’t particularly good. Certainly no Metallica. We’ll see if the much ballyhooed Faith No More reunion pays off better on Saturday…

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