Canadian Musician Does Heavy Montreal 2015 – Day 3Thursday, August 13th, 2015
Ah, day three of Heavy Montreal. What had been a sprint in previous editions, which lasted a mere two days, has now become a marathon. Again, we wake up hungover, pick out an appropriate black band t-shirt and trek out to Parc Jean Drapeau. Again, we scan the lineup for the day and plan. Again, we make the now-eternal seeming walk between main stages, side stages and media area, stocking up on water and beer as we go, wondering when we’re going to eat some overpriced food truck grub.
We are punch-drunk from the previous two days of non-stop double bass fills (and just drunk in general). But on the last day, we have to make the most of it. More music, more interviews and most importantly, more beer.
The day started on an excellent note, as I arrived in the nick of time for Warrant’s closing song. If you guessed they would end with anything other than Cherry Pie, you are a particularly clueless brand of idiot. The band is older, a bit heavier in the gut area, but damn, that song is still a fantastic little piece of cheese-metal.
Having had my fill of cock-rock, I decided to skip out on Dokken and check out Dead Tired. A mere two days after his triumphant return with Alexisonfire, George Pettit’s other band was on the far smaller Scene de la Foret stage. Pettit’s throat-searing screams work well with the buzzsaw guitars, but let’s face it: few things are Alexis and Dead Tired is not among them. But judged on its own merit, it was an energetic and entertaining half hour of hardcore.
While my girlfriend headed to the nearby Apocalyptica stage, next up for me was one of the can’t-miss sets of the whole festival: Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg featuring Andrew W.K. on vocals. Replacing his trademark bark with a wholly credible Joey Ramone imitation, this was 45 minutes of no-bullshit punk rock. I Wanna Be Sedated… check. The KKK Took My Baby Away… Check. Blitzkrieg Bop… check and mate. Having seen W.K. give one of his motivational speeches, it was slightly upsetting to have no entertaining banter, but the man knew that despite being front and centre, the real star was the last remaining member of The Ramones. Here’s hoping Heavy brings back W.K. with his own band to play some songs with the word ‘party’ in the title.
Asking Alexandria was awesome. At least, that’s what all the teenagers in the crowd seemed to think. With lots of guitar-flipping and even more makeup, the band weren’t really my think, but hey, I’m 30. I might be a music writer, but even I know that adolescents have a better grasp on what’s cool than I do.
After a nice chat with local boys Dig It Up, I managed to catch the end of Bullet For My Valentine and… take pretty much everything I just wrote about Asking Alexandria and repeat it here.
Among the bands I was most pumped to see is Detroit’s Wilson. Their debut album, the marvelously titled Full Blast Fuckery, came highly recommended from a friend, and indeed, their fuckery is beyond doubt. While their latest, Right To Rise, has only about half as much fuckery, it’s still much more fuckery than pretty much any other band currently out there.
A short set was notable for a rowsing rendition of “College Gangbang” (these guys are REALLY good at titles). But even better was a finale that saw a guitarist literally hanging by his legs from a tree, supported at first by a concerned security guard and later, a swarm of fans.Wilson’s attitude is that one way or another, you will leave their show entertained. If there’s any justice, Wilson will be on the main stage the next time they play the festival.
With penultimate act Lamb of God up, it was time to get liquored up. Having seen the band last year in the exact same time slot, I gotta say: change is overrated. The band gives exactly what the crowd wants: brutal riffs, growled and screamed vocals and a chance to beat the shit out of everyone near you in a socially acceptable way. Plus, Redneck sounds AWESOME when you’re drunk.
And finally, we get to Slipknot. Though rumours had abounded about slow ticket sales for this year’s festival, a sea of people were ready for the nine-piece. It’s almost a miracle they’re here with the death of original bassist Paul Gray and the departure of original drummer Joey Jordison (ably replaced by Jay Weinberg, who I assume learned blast beats by listening to recordings of his father played at five times the original speed).
When Slipknot first emerged, I thought they were a joke. The instrumentation, the masks, the whole schtick… But what set them aside from, say, Mushroomhead, is the songs. Hearing Wait and Bleed live, you appreciate that at its core, this is just a well-written tune. 15 years into a career that could have been written off as a gimmick, and Slipknot are still here.
It’s been a hell of a ride, and I’m glad I got to cover this for Canadian Musician. Again, with rumours that ticket sales were disappointing, it will be interesting to see what form Heavy Montreal takes next year. Talking to some people, there’s a lot of directions this could, especially as at this point, most notable metal bands have already graced its stages. Can the festival continue to rebrand itself while bringing in new acts that aren’t traditional metal (my personal favourite rumours: Van Halen and Rage Against the Machine)? I guess we’ll see in 2016.
Until then, I’m gonna go grab some sleep and sober up.