Saturday, 24 August 2013

Julie Goes to Heavy MTL

*This blog post is way overdue. I've been busy with work since I came back, and I've been finding it difficult to bounce back and get back to my blogging routine.*

Two weeks ago, I headed to Montreal for the Heavy MTL festival. My partner has been attending the festival for a few years, but for some reason, it never occurred to me to join him. This year, I decided I wanted to try it out. Although I'd been to quite a few metal shows, I wasn't sure what to expect. I also got some media passes for two of the three days of the festival, which was exciting for me.

On Friday, we headed out early to go to the Metropolis for the Summer Slaughter tour. This event was the kick-off of the festival. The shows began at 3pm and there were 10 bands on the bill. Kudos to evenko for putting on such a well-organized event.

Most of these bands were more hardcore than what I usually listen to. The bands that really stood out for me are Revocation, the Ocean, and Animals as Leaders.

The headliner Dillinger Escape Plan was a bit disappointing, especially compared to the amazing performances of some of the other bands. Their performance was alright, but it just didn't measure up. Also, all of the elements of their show did not work well together. The crazy strobe lights were just too much and they were so distracting during the whole show. It really took away from the performance instead of adding to it. Sometimes a little goes a long way...

Check out my French review of the show for Sors-tu here.


Saturday was a pretty chill day for me. I wasn't writing about any of the shows that day, so we didn't rush to get to Parc Jean-Drapeau. By the time we got there, Device was already playing. We listened to one song and decided it wasn't any good, so we just walked around for a bit.

Later we checked out Hellyeah, a band comprised of half of Muvayne and half of Damage Plan, including of Chad Gray, Mudvayne singer and Vinnie Paul, drummer of Damage Plan and Pantera and the brother of the late Dimebag Darrell. My partner called the style "Hillbilly Metal" and I told him I would probably enjoy that. Turns out, the only reason he used the term "Hillbilly Metal" is because the music is about drinking beers, smoking weed and looking at boobs (I am paraphrasing here). No, the music isn't groundbreaking (especially not the lyrics), but the performance was entertaining and I enjoyed it.

We walked over to see Baroness. After two songs, we left because we were not impressed with the band's lackluster performance. The sound was off and sounded very thin, compared to the full sound that we hear on the albums. I was disappointed because I was expecting so much more.

While we were waiting near the front for Black Label Society, we unfortunately had to listen to Steel Panther. That felt like absolute torture. As a woman, I felt offended by everything that came out of these guys' mouths. Yes, I realize that the band is a "joke" band that makes fun of all other hair metal band but regardless... I think the band is an absolute atrocity.

Finally, Zakk Wylde and the boys of Black Label Society came out on stage and we were right up front. The band put on a good performance. I've seen them live a few times and this was far from being their best performance but it was still really fun. They ended their set with "Suicide Messiah", my favourite BLS song. It's always great to see Zakk Wylde and his bandmates perform.

Later, we saw Danzig with Doyle. I knew nothing about this group whatsoever. Turns out that singer/songwriter Glenn Danzig is one of the founding members of the Misfits. He is joined by guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, also from the Misfits. He was very entertaining to watch. Rob Zombie came on stage to sing with Danzig for one of the songs. For the duration of the song, Zombie's mic was not working, which was unfortunate.

Finally, it was time to check out Megadeth. For years, I've purposely avoided listening to Megadeth because I am not a fan of Dave Mustaine. However, seeing as they were playing anyways, why not give them a chance at Heavy MTL? Well, am I ever glad I did! I was blown away... The group put on a great performance. My favourite part of the show was the energy from the crowd. It was contagious... I couldn't help but smile and look around during the show. Die-hard Megadeth fans were everywhere. They knew the words to every songs and were singing them loudly during the show. It was quite special, and it made the experience that much greater.

We didn't stick around for Avenged Sevenfold, who were the big headliner of the evening. Instead, we went out for some beers aux Foufounes Électriques.


Sunday, I was officially on assignment for Sors-tu and I had a big lineup of acts to cover so we headed out really early to check out Huntress. I really enjoyed the performance and their sound was inspired by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden). Also, the lead singer was quite entertaining to watch.

Afterwards, it was time for Fintroll. The performance started off with some technical difficulties but that was quickly resolved, and the show progressed smoothly. The band played their blend of folk metal to the enthusiastic crowd. Band members were wearing costumes and makeup, dressing up like trolls (or elves). However, their costumes were definitely not as intense as Gwar. Despite the fact that the lyrics are in Swedish and I couldn't understand anything, I really enjoyed the performance. The crowd was showing them a lot of love. Many fans in the crowd were sporting elf-like ears and costumes, which I thought was great. Their performance was a great segway for the next group.

During the festival, I saw a lot of Amon Amarth t-shirts and had no clue who the band was. I was eager to check them out, seeing as there were tons of fans around. Boy, was I ever surprised! The band members came out on stage looking like Scandinavian gods. The crowd was so intense... The energy was out of this world! The lead singer was polite and quite charming. He won me over right away. By far my favourite discovery of the festival.

Then it was time for Phil Anselmo. He's not as charming as our friend in Amon Amarth... I enjoyed Anselmo's set a lot. The only downfall was that he wouldn't stop talking between songs. This guy is cocky, and he knows it. My partner tells me that this is the brilliant thing about Anselmo: he's full of himself and he doesn't give a shit. Fair enough; I just didn't care much for it. Regardless, people really seemed to enjoy the show (including my partner who was in the middle of the mosh pit during the entirety of the performance).

A while later, I saw Machine Head. I had heard a lot about this band. I was told that Machine Head was one of the loudest band I would see in concert. For some reason, I was expecting something more hardcore than what it actually was. I was pleasantly surprised with the performance and I really enjoyed the group. I hope I get to see them play again.

I was excited to check out Havok. A nice crowd had gathered at the stage, despite the fact that the band was playing at the same time as Mastodon. The band was very energetic and so was the crowd. They played songs like "Scumbag in Disguise", "DOA", "Give Me Liberty… Or Give Me Death" and they ended their set with "Time is Up". Although the set was short, the crowd was happy. One of the best performances of the festival, in my opinion.

After Havok, I rushed back to see the last part of Mastodon's set. I had planned to listen to the last 20 minutes of their set, but I only managed to hear a song and a half. Last time the band played Heavy MTL in 2010, they started their set late. This time, they ended their set early. Also, I was surprised that there wasn't that many people checking out the show. From what I saw, there was nothing extraordinary about their show or their music.
We made our way to the front of the stage for Rob Zombie while Godsmack was playing so we watched the show from the giant screens. Honestly, I was shocked at the giant crowd that gathered to catch the show. I was under the impression that Godsmack had not released any new music in a really long time. Regardless, the crowd was really into it. The band played some of their biggest hits, including "Voodoo" and "I Stand Alone". Overall, I wasn't expecting such a good show and I was very impressed with the band's performance and with the crowd as well.

Finally, the person I had been waiting  to see all week-end: Rob Zombie. I am a huge fan of Rob Zombie and I had seen him live twice before and both shows were fantastic. So my expectations were quite high for this show, and I was not disappointed! Although his latest album "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor" came out earlier this year, he only played two new songs: "Teenage Nosfaratu Pussy" and "Dead Radio". He also played some White Zombie songs: "Thunder Kiss '65", "More Human Than Human" and "Super-Charger Heaven". This show included everything from lights, flames, fireworks, confetti... You name it! The show ended with "Dragula", one of his most popular songs. Overall, great energy and performance from Zombie and his band members. Watching guitarist John 5 in action is always a treat! If you haven't seen Rob Zombie in concert, do yourself a favour and check him out next time he comes to town.

You can read my official (French) review for the Sunday shows here.


Me and G before Phil Anselmo takes the stage
Overall, I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed Heavy MTL. I was expecting some good shows but I had no idea how intense and dedicated the crowd would be. This definitely added to the experience, and made the shows even more enjoyable.

I also really enjoyed meeting some fellow bloggers that I know and follow on Twitter, including Montreal Concerts, the guys from Boulevard Brutal and la Musicographe. We decided to gather at the VIP tent so we could actually meet in person, which was very cool! I respect these bloggers, so it was really nice to finally meet them in person.

Again, I had an absolute blast at Heavy MTL and I regret waiting so long to check it out. See you metalheads next year!

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