Three years running and just getting better – Heavy MTL does it again

When I saw the line-up for this year’s Heavy MTL, I was floored by the fact that organizers somehow managed to top last year’s with bands of an overall much higher caliber. The sound was dead-on and the only minor technical glitch I noticed was with Billy Talent’s set; after their banner fell down and they didn’t bother to fix it (the show must go on!), the sound guy didn’t turn on the mic until about 15 seconds into their first song.

The organization was on the ball for preventing anyone from getting seriously injured, beer tent lines were reasonable and the stage set up was efficient. In fact, the only thing I could say the weekend was missing was a little more shaded area but that is just Parc Jean-Drapeau for you.

Another interesting observation from the weekend were the food and beverage offered. Sure, the standard five-dollar hot dogs, burgers and beers were there as in past years, but the additions of a healthy salad and sandwich food joint, smoothies and girls wandering the site with trays of fresh fruit were a little confusing at first. But even more shocking was the sheer number of people actually eating the stuff; there was something almost comedic about watching a dude with dreads to halfway down his back covered in dirt, wearing a Cannibal Corpse T-shirt, eating a green salad and a cup of cantaloupe. But I applaud the move: Yay for eating healthy (if that’s your thing).

Saturday’s line-up started with Montreal’s own Slaves on Dope, who played a second gig on Sunday when stoner metal band The Sword had to pull out because of trouble getting into the country. I caught the Sunday gig and they had a small but enthusiastic crowd at the third stage and played a good set, delivering the show I have come to expect from the Montreal veterans.

Arriving at the end of Red Fangs’ set was a little disappointing as for what little I caught of it, they sounded amazing. Death Angel was up next and they were everything I was hoping they would be. The Bay Area trash veterans held nothing back and the crowd ate up every note they played; the energy was contagious and set a good tone for the remainder of the day.

Suicide Silence played the main stage right after and kept up the standard that had been set by Death Angel. By the time Machine Head hit the stage, the crowd was literally up for anything and before any band could get the words “Wall of death” out of the PA, the pit was cut into two with people just waiting for the go-ahead to smash into each other.

I managed to get right next to the rail for Trivium and couldn’t have been happier as the boys from Florida put on (arguably) the best show of the weekend, as they were so intense that I swear I nearly died, but loved every second of it.

Trivium was followed by Sweden’s In Flames who did everything they could to top the bands before them and came pretty damn close, at least in this reporter’s opinion. Billy Talent hit the stage running and for the band that was least appropriate for the line-up, they put on a stellar show. Godsmack’s set went off without a hitch but was nothing spectacular (granted, six hours in the sun may have dampened my enthusiasm).

Sunday started out with three times as many people crowding the stages. Annihilator started the old-school bands off and did not disappoint; the Canadian metal legends played tunes from across their 20-year repertoire, rockin’ out with the crowd that was singing along. As I Lay Dying was a bit disappointing but gave me an opportunity to catch Slaves on Dope, which was well worth the trek to the third stage. The guys showed some local love by bringing Catalyst frontman Matt Bailie up on stage for an extended run at fan favorite, “Pushing Me.”

Children of Bodom failed to convert me into a fan and the original schedule of having them on the Saturday would probably have worked out best for everyone since most of their fans showed up then, not realizing there had been a scheduling change (they were switched with Death Angel at the last moment). Morbid Angel then delivered the heaviest show of the weekend by far, but most people used the opportunity to grab food and drinks before Anthrax went on.

With the return of frontman Joey Belladonna, Anthrax was back to being the band I needed to cross off my bucket list and they did not disappoint in the least, tearing through old classics and ripping a few of the new songs from their upcoming album.

Finally, it was time for the immortal Lemmy and Motorhead. Lemmy came on stage, said nothing and just started to play, and didn’t stop for more than ten seconds for close to an hour. They played all the standards and didn’t even wait till the end to play “Ace of Spades.” They also played a few tracks off their latest album, which were awesome live.

And last but never ever, ever least came KISS. For anyone who has ever seen KISS, it was a standard show and the self-proclaimed Gods of Rock loved every minute of playing to the packed crowd. For anyone who has never seen KISS, do so as quickly as you can, before someone dies, ‘cause it is arguably the best show on earth. Between the pyro and lights and the wall of sound coming from the 50 or more amplifiers on stage, it is hard to tell which way is up! Frontman Paul Stanley called the set live as the night went on and covered everything the crowd was begging for.

KISS even ended the show with their own fireworks, which lasted nearly 20 minutes and rivaled the international fireworks competition going on at the other end of the island.

With a weekend like this, who knows what will happen next year?!

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(Photos: Barbara Pavone)

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