The summer of 2014 could not have gone any slower. I was anxiously awaiting my first Heavy Montreal experience ever. Finally, on August 9th, 2014, I was on my way to see some of the world’s biggest metal bands.
The weather forecast was set to be 32 degrees and sunny all weekend with cool temperatures in the evening. What more could we ask for? When I arrived to a busy Parc Jean Drapeau entrance, I ran into a bunch of other media contacts including Miheala Petrescu who was stoked to be shooting for VOIR Magazine. I spotted about 30 Metallica T-shirt wearers knowing that this was going to be insane. We still had 10 hours to go before seeing the almighty Metallica perform.
When I met up with our fantastic head photographer, Eric, we ran over to see the opening band of the event, Monster Truck. They opened with their hot hit “The Lion”, and it was a definite pleaser to start the event. They rocked it out so hard. Everyone was dancing and singing along to the “oooh’s“. Jon Harvey’s voice sounded perfect, and I was definitely locked in. We later realized time was running out and Montreal’s very own Eagle Tears were playing at the same time. It was a wonder why Evenko decided to book the only two rock bands of the event at the same time but it actually worked out! When we hit the stage for Eagle Tears, they had a pretty sweet following. Those guys are natural rock stars. When I later spoke to them and asked if they were nervous, or felt pressure at all they answered with a simple “no“. It’s no wonder why they won the En Route Vers Heavy battle.
As the heat increased, the sweat continued to drip from our faces and the sunburns began setting in. We moved our way to discover more of what this festival had to offer. I walked towards the “Apocolypse” stage and discovered this band from France called Mass Hysteria. I noticed quite a few people wearing their shirts and was curious about them. Apparently it’s been four years since they were here last so the fans were eager. They had a huge following which brought me to my surprise considering I have never heard of them. I checked out their performance and they definitely delivered killer stage presence. The music was raw, metal and hard. Vocalist Moustapha Kelaï had a “God-like” reaction from the crowd. He preached it to the team. They have a French Rage Against the Machine thing going on; very political, outspoken and poetic. Nonetheless, they kept me intrigued which was a good sign.
As I continued to walk around, I spotted another new band I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to before, a deathcore band from Texas called Kublai Khan. They preached about anti-racism and how we are all one. Their positive attitude along with deep bass lines and sick guitar riffs kept me watching. They had some sick beats. Check em out here.
I was so mesmerized by this band I forgot to check out the YouTube sensation Baby Metal. I am so sorry I missed them. Damn. We had a scheduled interview with Eagle Tears around 2 pm, but we still managed to catch bands like Pennywise and Overkill. Pennywise played all their classics like “Bro Hymn”. It felt like I was 14 again. Overkill were still as loud as I remember. By this time, most of Parc Jean-Drapeau land was covered, and there were mini circle pits throughout the crowd. The overall energy at this point was really intense. You could feel the excitement for Metallica. Six more hours to go.
Unlocking the Truth impressed tons with their young talent. I have major appreciation for these kids. They had tons of press going for them after their show. Sadly, I missed Municipal Waste, but I caught Whitechapel and a little bit of Apocolyptica. Apocolyptica were fucking ridiculous. They have worked with vocalists such as Gavin Rossdale of Bush, and had a special guest join them for this Heavy Montreal performance, Franky Perez, former guitarist of Scars on Broadway. He did a fantastic job with the band, making this performance every bit as magical as it was.
It was time for a break so I walked my way through to the VIP lounge for a snack. I ordered a burger for $11. I thought it was fantastic. The greatest thing was that the bun was black – I’m assuming to go with the Heavy Montreal environment? That’s what most people were guessing. The service was impeccably friendly as well. I felt the burger was a little overpriced based on the size/portion, but I still thought it was delicious. We also had access to a small Asian counter serving dumplings, Japandogs, and Asian poutine. Very cool. After some cooling off, it was time to walk around again and check out more music.
Protest the Hero was up and it was my first time checking these guys out live. While I absolutely love the music, the vocals I couldn’t bear. It was time for me to leave. Nekrogoblikon were nearly ready to hit the stage and I couldn’t not say hi beforehand! We covered those guys back in November and we were stoked to see these crazy L.A. natives again. We walked over to the “De La Forêt” stage and spotted Eddie aka “Bready”. He let us through to the back for a chat. We caught up a little bit while they pumped up and prepped for their performance. They mentioned a new album in the works and the planned schedule is early 2015. They got on stage fronting a huge crowd ready to rock out their goblin metal. When they played “No One Survives” the head-bangers upfront against the bars went nuts. One thing I noticed was that John the Goblin was quiet this time! He danced around a lot but he didn’t talk to the crowd. He sprayed the crowd with a hose, then Scorpion grabbed the hose and sprayed his whole face. Love that dude. When the show was over the guys were pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd. I told guitarist Alex how friends of mine were texting me telling me how much they rocked. He then said “we owe this to you!!” Awww.
Two more hours till Metallica. By this time the place was even more packed and we checked out some more sites. Food trucks like Pieds de Cochon, and Le Sandwicherie Zoe’s were set outside in a cute little “food truck” area. They did not change their prices for the event neither, which was pretty great. There were also other special events like a before-party held at Katacombes, featuring Bat Sabbath and Eagle Tears. There was also a fun BBQ which took place on August 8th, and performances by Swashbuckle with Rainbowdragoneyes on the 9th after the event ended. We also had the pleasure of featuring HEAVY MANIA, on-site wrestling, which was placed close to the De La Forêt stage.
Overall, I felt really at ease and comfortable with the whole organization. Evenko definitely spoiled us. Sure, I hung out in the VIP lounge here and there but I was in the crowd quite a lot and the fans had a ton of stuff going on. I saw so many smiles, excitement, good food, and happiness everywhere. We had easy access to toilets, water fountains, and the security sprayed the crowd with hoses every ten or so minutes to keep cool. It was as if everyone was one big happy metal crazed family. Heavy Montreal volunteers and Evenko staff were a pleasure to work with as well.
Anthrax delivered a high energy, loud set before Offspring took the stage. Anthrax have been doing this for thirty or so years, and let me tell you – besides a grey goatee, Scott Ian does not age. The fan girl in me still will marry him. Offspring played their “Smash” album which was awesome. Again I felt like I was 14. Hearing them play “Come out and Play” was surreal.
The time had come and Metallica was ready to get on stage. The sun was still setting, the crowd was ready and I was standing up high on the bleachers, my heart beating fast. This was Metallica’s first “By Request” tour and the majority of their set was made up of old classics. The Heavy Montreal sign was lit up on the mountain behind us with fire blowing around it. About 50, 000 eager fans were ready.
The show started out with a video introducing the whole By Request concept. The light show was a total gong show. When “Fade to Black” was performed I had tears in my eyes. James Hetfield walked all over the ramps sang his heart out. The fans sang along to Enter Sandman and Sad But True. I caught some dudes crying. It was an enormously emotional and happy time for everyone. Each band member pleasured us with a mini solo. Kirk Hammett played beautifully, sounding every bit as insane as I remembered. It has been years since I have listened to Metallica, and it was my first time seeing them. It was a show definitely not to be missed.
So, that’s it folks. Day 1 was over. Time to go to bed and dream of Metallica singing me to sleep.