Heavy Montreal was upon us once again after a year-long hiatus. Over 27,000 fans visited the grounds of Parc Jean Drapeau this weekend to see some of their favourite metal bands. Evenko brought us many different genres to cater to every metal fan in the country. It was my personal heaven, mostly due to the fact there were tons of stoner-doom acts on the lineup. But I also got to explore and discover some other great bands.
Parc Jean Drapeau is still undergoing construction which is set to be completed 2019, so the promoters did their best to accommodate the situation. As someone in media, I was a little overwhelmed the first day. The four stages were fairly spread out, the media tent about a fifteen-minute walk away, and the VIP area (or what I call the “resting place”) was another five minutes from the media tent. Sure, we had carts, but as someone who is a huge music nerd, I did not want to miss a second of the bands, so I ended up not stopping the entire day because I had no time to head that far to take breaks.
When I walked in Saturday, I immediately ran for En Route Vers Heavy online winner, Burning the Oppressor. I was so happy to see these dudes win and KILL IT on stage. Their win in the Heavy contest was well deserved. There were a ton of amazing bands who applied, but these guys have been working their asses off for years and I see good things coming their way. They had a decent crowd and brought the metal energy that started my weekend off right.
Pallbearer began steps away, which I felt was the wrong time and place. I didn’t want to see some of my favourite doom bands in broad disgusting sunny daylight! But nonetheless, I got into it because Pallbearer never fail. I must give props to the setup this weekend because the sound was stellar throughout the festival. Pallbearer sounded absolutely fantastic. Had trouble hearing the vocals at the beginning but it was settled immediately.
Lee Aaron made a fun comeback as well. I haven’t seen or followed her since my childhood in 1987, so it was super awesome to see the Canadian Queen of Metal come back and kill it. She looked great, sounded even better, and played all her hits including “Some Girls Do” which brought back many memories.
For the first time I finally checked out Heavy Mania. All these years attending Heavy, I have always missed this. Wrestling is something I haven’t followed since my childhood, but this whole organization is definitely worth checking out. They put a ton of work into it, and it is very entertaining. However, host guy – your mic is too loud.
My crazy day did not stop and continued with Baroness, Witchcraft, and Alestorm. I have no complaints whatsoever because all these bands were a ton of fun, especially seeing Witchcraft for the first time. Hearing Magnus Pelander sing live was far from disappointing. Alestorm, of course, got the party started hard by reminding everyone to stick pizza up their asses.
Saturday night closed (for me) with the almighty Marilyn Manson, Emperor and Rob Zombie, bands I think everyone was excited to see. I was still getting to know the grounds and did not realize how far the main stage was. We made it to the main stage for Manson and waited ten minutes for him to appear. My crew and I were literally cracking jokes based on Manson’s history of canceling his gigs last minute. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It’s been about twenty years since I’ve seen Manson last, so I was lucky to be able to skip all the bullshit he’s been doing lately. At the end of it all, he delivered. Aside from awkward silences and breaks between songs, WHILE he played he kicked ass. He sounded good, he stood strong, and he told us mental illness is not curable. Okay. During the set, however, we got destroyed with an insane thundershower with lightning and were worried we would have to stop the event! About six friends and I made an umbrella tent and stood in the middle of it, hugging each other desperately for comfort. We survived! Manson seemed to have fed off the storm and ripped into “Beautiful People” while everyone was running like maniacs as if an apocalypse was upon us.
We walked over to Emperor, which most black metal nerds were ridiculously excited about. Not being a huge black metal fan myself, I wasn’t super knowledgeable about this band, but I went to check them out and see what the hype was all about. There were definitely nerdgasms at their best from those watching these dudes rip.
Finally, my first night closed with Rob Zombie watching from the bleacher area. Zombie killed it, aside from seemingly running out of breath a few times and skipping words as he sang. Other than that, they had massive stage props, great stage presence and energy, and played “Thunder Kiss 65” which was great hearing live again after too many years.
The second day was a bit more relaxing for me. Knowing the grounds a bit better at that point, I was able to organize myself a little better. The first band of the day for me was Montreal’s The Agonist. I walked towards their stage and ended up being pushed towards the back. They had an enormous crowd ready to watch them. It’s been two years since I’ve seen The Agonist and every time they get better. The energy and tightness were definitely there. I ran over to Asking Alexandria next – a band I never ever thought I would get into – but their latest self-titled record totally grew on me. My photographer André Beaupré likes to call them “the boy band of metal” and I completely concur. Vocalist Danny Worsnop probably has one of the best voices I’ve heard in a while. He sounds great on the record, but I wanted proof he could do the same live – and he did. I almost caught myself wiping my mouth a little from the jaw drops and puddles of drool.
The next band I checked out was Khemmis – a band I’ve been following for nearly three years now. I’m super happy with the fact Decibel put these guys on the map because they have become a favourite. They were hands down the band I was looking forward to seeing most this weekend. So, with my big mouth, I raved to every single person I knew to check them out. They played most of their new record Desolation along with some oldies, and the energy was fierce. I could tell they were very excited to be there, and I admire the chemistry these guys have both on stage and personally. Having spent some time with them, you can really feel a sense of closeness with these guys and it reflects well on stage.
Next I checked out the almighty Gojira. Besides Khemmis, this band was the highlight of my weekend. Holy fucking shit! It was about my sixth time seeing them, and every time they get better, heavier, and rawer. With lots of pyro-effects on stage, it made for a super tight performance to watch. If you are a fan and have not seen them yet, nothing compares. You can listen to their music at home but their live show is definitely a treat and way more enjoyable.
The last band of the weekend for me was Limp Bizkit. Having replaced Avenged Sevenfold with very short notice, Fred Durst made it clear on stage that they were the “…last minute, cheapest decision Evenko could make.” I thought the best thing about this performance was Durst’s outfit, sporting what looked like pajama pants covered in flowers (I think my mother has similar curtains?) and a jersey along with his signature hat. All jokes aside, I love Durst, although more so for his acting. Please do not quit acting, Fred! The performance was sloppy, and seemed like they were fucking around due to being the “desperate” last minute decision. So they played most of their hits, including “Nookie,” but mixed with a TON of covers. That, along with Durst rambling in between songs way too much, made it hard to watch. It wasn’t the best ending to a killer festival, so I’ll pretend it didn’t happen and try to remember Gojira the most.
Thank you Evenko for bringing this festival back to us this year. Next year, please make the stage and tent set up slightly more comfortable to get around and …cheaper beer? 9$ beers are steep.
And that is my very brief recap of my entire weekend. If you want more details, comment below or reach out via email. I would love to talk more about this with other festival goers.
Written by Liz Imperiale
Photography by André Beaupré
*edited by Kate Erickson