You may have read my (de-personalized) exclaim review, or followed Adam Wills's live blogging at hellbound.ca (or checked out his fest photos). Now here's my more rambling account of my first Heavy MTL weekend in Montreal (and repeated avoidance of full sentences).
Road trip begins. Uneventful for the most part except for random (Mexican?) metalhead sighting at 401 rest stop. After a nap, time for a vegetarian dinner - a somewhat randomly chosen Yuan Vegetarian, an Asian veg place on St. Denis. The food was decent, the service a little inattentive, the atmosphere relaxedly posh. After a little (not really necessary) walk, pirate-themed service, loud (mostly 90s) metal and reasonably-priced drinks at Cafe Chaos.
Up early for free continental breakfast and to join the metal hordes clambering (and clamouring) on the Metro line out to Parc Jean-Drapeau. After a minor lobster claw incident, headed into the venue for our free press wristbands, Heavy MTL neck things, and fancy laminated schedules (all of which smoothed our way no further than the other side of the security check). Arrived pretty much in line with the beginning of the opening set - to find the women's washroom already alarmingly short of toilet paper and the limited merch and food/drink options pretty expensive and well, limited.
Things picked up with Skeletonwitch, who I found nearly as entertaining as I had in Hamilton a few days before (which was quite a lot). High on Fire sounded big but looked small. Auf der Maur was barely audible at first but absolutely beautifully amazing (see the earlier reports for the Peter Steele connection). Kataklysm also sounded good but it was getting incredibly hot out and it was already time for a bit of a break. One that lasted through Fear Factory. I still love them but prefer to keep a distance so the glow of memory doesn't get doused by the dullness of current reality.
Revived long enough to get caught up in the inimitable enthusiasm of Anvil (I've had a soft spot for them ever since watching the documentary), a bit of Testament (with another refreshment break), and the beginning and end of Halford. Between some weird sound issues and another bout of heat fatigue I didn't enjoy Mastodon as much I hoped and decided to view and hear Slayer from up on the hill. Having seen Slayer many times and the Big Four movie recently it didn't seem important to be all that close. Same goes for Alice Cooper (minus the Big Four part) although it would have been neat to see his stage show up close -- the distant view and big screen close-ups didn't quite do it justice.
A little later, the fireworks going off just beyond the trees seemed symbolic of my feelings about seeing and hearing Megadeth perform Rust in Peace in full. I wish Dave Mustaine's singing wasn't so visibly and audibly painful, but I'm impressed by the band's current line-up and only wish I had enough stamina for the "secret" charity show later that night. Instead we tramped across a precarious sea of crushed beer cups and aluminum bottles and joined the hot, sweaty and smelly stream of the dirty and black clad heading back into the city.
Wanted to make it back to the Parc in time for Les Ekorchés, but when that clearly wasn't happening we decided to forego the other early bands for coffee, tea, and eventually a couple of tasty falafels from Basha (Ste-Catherine-Uqam location). Made it back to the festival site in time for Chimaira drowning out Three Inches of Blood on the side stage. Mocked a few outfits, got free, disgusting samples of Rockstar energy drink and spent a fair bit of time watching and listening from the relative comfort of the grassy slope.
Hatebreed sounded good but I still can't get fired up over them. Didn't really manage to stir up any significant appreciation until Alexisonfire. I'm never been a particular fan but I sort of get what they're doing and it was a welcome contrast to some of the more simplistic aural bombardment the afternoon had to offer. Following closely behind, Lamb of God were predictably intense and crowd-stirring. Again, I more or less understand the appeal, but I tend to like these guys best in short doses - a live set strains my attention. Mike Portnoy playing with Avenged Sevenfold was the highlight of that set, which mostly had me anxious for Rob Zombie to take over.
Zombie's performance was my Sunday highlight, hands down. I wasn't totally on board with the sound of all the material but the stage show was irresistible, as (openly) ripped off from Alice Cooper as it is. I mean, costumes and robots (including a framing Zombie's entrance on stage out of the flaming robot!) and monsters and horror film clips? He had me at the robots. After that, Korn's closing set was a complete anti-climax, despite their elaborate oil rig stage decor (which I didn't quite understand - was it an attempt at a political statement?) They sounded strong, had a loyal following in hand, and I even enjoyed the songs I know more than I expected, but I just had trouble caring after all the much more impressive performances I'd seen over the two days leading up.
We ended the night with craft beer and pizza at Le Saint-Bock and more drinks and metal with friends and new acquaintances at Les Foufounes Electriques and headed out, a little short of sleep, early Monday afternoon to return to Ontario and a vague sense of reality.
Can't wait until next year!