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Canadian Musician Does Heavy Montreal 2015 – Day 2

Monday, August 10th, 2015
Billy Talent onstage at Heavy Montreal 2015

Billy Talent onstage at Heavy Montreal 2015

Canadian Musician correspondent Adam Kovac was at Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau this past weekend, enjoying some loud sounds and cheap suds at the 2015 edition of Heavy Montreal. Here’s the report from Day 2:

There’s a Chinese proverb that I’m fairly sure is made up, but it applies pretty damn well to Heavy Montreal, or at least those of us blessed enough to have media credentials: that the word for crisis is the same as that for opportunity.

This is how I feel about beers being $3.50 in the media area. Having arrived just as Slaves on Dope were wrapping up their set, I headed back to that roped off area, feeling like a VIP and ready to organize my second day of Heavy Montreal.

Deafheaven and Rocket from the Crypt switched off on the two main stages, providing a pretty neat contrast of what this year’s edition of the festival was striving for: melodic metal followed by ska-ish punk, proving that “heavy” is a pretty broad term as far as the promoter is concerned.

While I’d been worried that the thought process behind this year’s lineup was essentially “Eh, metal has guitars. So does punk. Fuck it,” there is some method to the madness. A dude in a Korn T-shirt was front and centre for NOFX’s set. (Which prompted singer Fat Mike to remark “Dude, Korn’s not even a band anymore.” He was thereafter informed that Korn had headlined the night before, his band telling him he really needs start reading those memos.)

Anyway, I managed to catch a few songs from ’80s sex kitten Lita Ford, formerly of The Runaways. Never a huge fan of her or the band she started in, let it be said: the whole conversation about women being unable to compete with men in hard rock ends now. Ford has been shredding for over 30 years, and with a pitch-perfect take on the intro to Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile,” she showed that her skills have not diminished in the year’s she’s been out of the spotlight.

Alas, Glassjaw was calling, so I headed over to the smaller Apocalyptica stage. Heavy on Worship and Tribute-era songs, the band was tight and focused, culminating in an UNBELIEVABLY heavy take on “Siberian Kiss.” (Author’s note: Glassjaw was one of the first truly heavy bands I ever got into, and singer Daryl Palumbo was one of the most notable interviews I ever did, in which our conversation culminated in him losing his shit due to bumping into the actor who played Samir from Office Space halfway through our phone call. So long story short, I’m a fan and they were awesome).

Montreal’s own Dig It Up were on the smallest stage, reserved for up and comers – which is a strange thing to say about a band that’s been kicking around for over half a decade. But with ample touring experience behind them, it seems this is a band that’s finally due for a breakthrough. Hardcore vocals mixed with amped-up blues guitar licks provided a rollicking set. The rawness of their performance was charming, but they could take a lesson from the next band on how to get a bit more of the polish that will move them from the side stage to the main one.

That next band was Billy Talent, who provided a greatest hits-style set as well as a promise to buy a beer for everyone in the crowd who doesn’t vote for Stephen Harper.

Their set was also where the worry about the mixture of metal and punk was laid to rest. A huge mosh pit and insanely loud applause showed there is a crossover appeal to this kind of programming.
Or maybe it’s just because BT’s punkish leanings were an excellent intro to NOFX.

The nice thing about those punk jokers is that since each of their songs is barely two minutes long, they were able to jam what felt like 200 songs into their hour. Some highlights: opener “Dinosaurs Will Die,” “Champs de Lysee” (obviously a hit with the Quebecois crowd), and “Franco-Unamerican” (again – a French crowd). Even better was the stage banter, including barbs at religion in general and the swatting of several pinatas by guitarist El Hefe (who then proceeded to toss candy at the front rows for the remaining time). On a personal note, your reviewer happens to be Jewish and a punk fan. So closing with “The Brews,” with its lyrics about manishevitz, shiksas, chasidim, and anti-swastika tattoos, was perhaps the highlight of the festival thus far.

Sadly, an interview with Devin Townsend superceded a desire to see Iggy Pop, but watching “Lust For Life” from a screen backstage, it occurred to me that Jet must be hanging their heads in shame somewhere in Australia.

Finally, Faith No More. Even as they hit the stage, it’s hard to believe this is happening. Mike Patton has always seemed more mythical than man – an artist almost unbelievable in his integrity. Thinking he would ever belt out “Epic” again was borderline unthinkable – but in true counterintuitive FNM fashion, the song came early in the set, to massive applause.

Concluding with new single “Superhero,” Faith No More ended a memorable (for this somewhat drunken reporter, at least) second day of Heavy. This year, there’s an additional third day, unprecedented in the festival’s history. We’ll see if there’s too much of a good thing as this bastion of rock draws to a close on Sunday.

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