The sun beat down even harder on the second day of Rockfest than it had the day before, and made it nearly impossible to sleep past 8 o’clock a.m. in a tent that basically felt like an oven. Because of this and copious amounts of drinking (and probably other substances), and just general fatigue from the walking and running and moshing of the previous day and a half, concert goers were noticeably more sluggish for this final stretch of shows. The shows themselves, however, were just as good if not exponentially better than they had been the previous day.
Pop-ska rockers Less Than Jake did an awesome job of opening the Lotto Quebec stage and zapping a little energy back into the tired masses with old hits like “The Science of Selling Yourself Short.” On the other side of the park, Fear Factory main man Burton C. Hall yelled out, “Alright Montebello, you’ve had your fun, now it’s time to rock!” before the band burst into heavy hitter “Shock.” It was truly awesome to see these guys in full form with Dino Cazares, one of the pioneers of the modern seven-string guitar sound, rocking out with the band that brought him so much recognition.
Hatebreed were welcomed to the stage by a smaller than usual crowd of loyal fans, which Jamie Jasta and Co. didn’t seem to mind at all as they dedicated “As Diehard As They Come” to the screaming hardcore heads. Other bangers like “To the Threshold” and “Born to Bleed” rounded out their set which was as punishing as ever.
We then headed to the marina to catch the shuttle boat over to the Chateau Montebello for a press meet and greet, the result of which you can watch in our video segment. This was a nice change in scene from the sweaty metalheads that crowded the city. The water was beautiful and pristine as we glided along past other boat dwellers enjoying this beautiful afternoon on the lake. Of course, calm and quiet were not why we were here, so after the meet and greet we hightailed it back to the chaos in time to catch Thrice’s career spanning set. Their opening number “Firebreather” was as ripping as ever, and I swear you could hear all of Montebello singing along to older hits like “The Artist and the Ambulance” and “Deadbolt.”
And then there was Snoop Dogg. What can I say? The man is a genius. Only Snoop could get on stage in front of a crowd full of punk and metal fans and, without even the slightest hint of fear or shame, rap through songs like “I Wanna Fuck You” and “California Girls.” Though many onlookers were decidedly unimpressed by the inclusion of these songs in the set, even the most diehard rap hater had to grudgingly raise their fists as Snoop’s DJ played “I Love Rock and Roll,” and of course there were the classic hits like “Drop it Like it’s Hot,” “Still D.R.E,” and “Gin and Juice.” After a touching tribute to fallen brothers Tupac and Biggie and a huge singalong to Wiz Khalifa’s hit “Young, Wild and Free,” Snoop left the stage with a classic wisdom bomb… “Smoke weed every day!” Hey, I didn’t say it, Snoop did.
Now I was faced with an extremely difficult decision. On opposite sides of the park were hardcore titans Refused and Ska veterans The Planet Smashers. Though I love Refused’s genre-redefining album The Shape of Punk to Come, I ultimately chose to head over to see what The Planet Smashers had to offer with their live show, and I don’t regret it for a second. Decked out in head to toe white with matching fedoras and two sexy Budweiser girls on either side of the stage throwing out free t-shirts, the boys played through what may have been the most plain fun set of the entire festival. At one point, they even allowed a man the privilege of jumping onstage, grabbing the microphone and proposing to his girlfriend, who obviously said yes. Closing numbers “Surfing in Tefino” and “Super Orgy Porno Party” had all witnesses feeling as awesome as if they had just attended said party.
From this point on Europe’s “The Final Countdown” may as well have been playing behind us with every step we took. Our bodies were hungry and thirsty, our legs were screaming at us to sit down, our brains were almost incapable of any intelligent thought, and there were no foreseeable breaks between here and the end of the festival. It was time to man up or shut up, and we knew that the remaining performances from Rob Zombie, Tenacious D, Slayer, Les Cowboys Fringants, and of course System of a Down would be totally worth the pain, so we soldiered on.
Rob Zombie always goes that extra mile with his stage setup and this time was no exception, with a stellar light show and all of the iconic black and white film monsters (Nosferatu, Bigfoot, Wolfman, etc.) present in some form on the stage. This was a special set as he included some lesser played numbers like “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy” and “House of a Thousand Corpses” alongside a killer cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” and classic singles “Thunderkiss ’65” and “Dragula.” Though his anecdote about Snoop saying to him, “Zombie, I brought them to the edge, now you gotta push ‘em over” was funny, and though his set was definitely killer in its own right, the act who really pushed us over the edge and made this a weekend to never be forgotten was…
The D. Hitting things off with the greatest and best song in the world, “Tribute,” Jack Black and Kyle Gass’ set of songs was as hilarious as it was a mesmerizing display of skill and musical knowledge. What makes Tenacious D’s music so fantastic is that, though the stories they tell about the devil and their own mastery of the rock world and other styles of music trying and failing to defeat The Metal, the songs are so well written and so intricate that they almost have you believing in the ridiculous fantasy they sell. Included in the set was a friendly jab at jazz music with Jack Black teasing, “45 minutes of non-stop jazz. No, 14 hours of non-stop jazz!” and roaring solos from all the band members including a vocal solo from Black himself which was nothing short of spectacular. On the next stage over, Slayer began ripping through “Flesh Storm” before The D had a chance to finish with “Fuck Her Gently,” their softest number. Jack Black responded to this by replacing half of the lyrics in the song with screams of “Slayyyerrrr!!!” which resulted in some awesomely hilarious changes like “Sometimes you’ve got to make some Slayerrrr!! And fuckin’ give her some SSSSLAYERRR!!!” Well played Jack Black, well played.
Slayer’s set was pretty awesome too. New and returning members Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph did a great job filling the shoes of Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo respectively, and Slayer pulled out all the stops with classics like “Chemical Warfare,” “Mandatory Suicide,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” and a ripping closing rendition of “South of Heaven.” Anyone who says Slayer have fallen from the top after losing members and getting older clearly has no idea what they’re talking about, and needs to see these guys live to be put in their place.
Les Cowboys Fringants’ large line up had a great time playing their French folk rock to a crowd that was both surprisingly and happily not exclusively made up of native francophones. Everybody who wasn’t pushing their way to get as close to the Lotto Quebec stage as possible was dancing and smiling and having a wonderful time.
And then the moment came. Everything went dark, and a Shavo Odadjian’s bass guitar began to rumble, and out of the swampy blackness System of a Down emerged to with the middle section of “Mind” from their debut album. As Serj Tankian crooned “Look at each other,” the entire crowd of two hundred thousand plus people began to pack in so tight towards the stage that from above we must have looked like sardines in a very large tin. Throughout their impressive 26-song set, System of a Down rocked so hard that they served the dual purpose of waking everyone up for one final hurrah and reminding everyone why their indescribable music will never stop being relevant. They played through political numbers like “Tentative” and “Prison Song,” head spinning technical bangers like “Question,” ridiculous nonsequitors like “Suite Pee” and “Cigaro” (with guitarist Daron Malakian singing, “Doesn’t anyone realize how stupid this song is!? Will you listen while we sing it??”) and huge singalongs for “Lonely Day,” “Chop Suey,” and “Toxicity” (before which Serj Tankian simply stated “you should sing this song, because you know it.”) System of a Down truly were the most unique, memorable, and satisfying way to end this fantastic 10th anniversary of the Amnesia Rockfest. Cheers boys, and cheers to all the bands, all the fans, all the staff, and especially to all the locals who not only put up with the party but happily joined in. Here’s to another 10 years.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Isa Hoyos Ishca Fotografía