Heavy MTL 2013: A Headbanger’s Journey
Hello MetalSucks readers it’s me Anso DF, senior editor. What’s up! Below is the story of one metal dude’s trip to a cool city (Montreal) to super jam at an awesome two-day metal festival (Heavy MTL). I had an awesome time, so picture yourself there in my shoes and read on! You probably aren’t as ditzy and distractible as me, so your style of fest-going may be different; I happily accept your openness on that point! Thanks for reading xoxo ADF
METAL TOWN There was a sense that this corner of Montreal was “our place” for the weekend of August 9-11½. That is, planets were aligning and trees parting so the sun could shine on fancy-free metal dudes. It was in the air right off the plane but I only recognized it after my first lunch in town: A white luxury sedan paused near me with “Creepshow” by Skid Row blasting. My cheers didn’t seem to register with its smartly-dressed driver, but I hope he felt warm about it back at his cell phone shop.
ENTERING HEAVY MTL 2013 The train let us out a few paces from festival gates. I heard Lzzy Hale and a thundering bass drum. I saw bouncy metal people. I hid stuff in secret pockets and entered. Let’s party!
HBD (HOW BOUT DAT) On some level, we all might like/respect storied old bands like Sick Of It All just on their rep. I sure had taken it on faith that once I’d get around to listening to a SOIA album, I’d surely jam. But at Heavy MTL, with nearly each song came the realization, “Oh shit I know this song. I didn’t know this is by Sick Of It All. I hate this song, and the two dummies at my high school who cranked it.” So that was a drag.
GIMME A BREAK Steel Panther may act dumb, but they are brainy. They know that dudes want to party, talk dirty among buds, and actually be buds with witty rockers who get laid/high. This much is clear to anyone at their weeklies in L.A. and L.V., and at their tour stops all over. But at a festival, it’s different. What sticks out most is Steel Panther’s balls: Wedged between sets by preachy hardcore bros and jizz-spraying aliens, the Panther guys stick to the script: Let’s party, girls please shave, shut up Lexxi, we’re high, we’re old, we are rocking your face. I’d chicken out and worry that Glenn Danzig, watching a monitor somewhere, would think I’m a total jag-off. But they didn’t, and that over-the-line banter and kinda-wrong songs “Tomorrow Night,” “17 Girls In A Row,” and “Death To All But Metal” sounded even better.
TIME MACHINE PLS I’m a reasonable person with respect for Black Label Society and its founder, Zakk Wylde. But I secretly hoped he would spot my posture of disinterest and my face’s farty expression. He’d take the bait, stop his show, and set me up to zing him thusly: “Just play ‘Miracle Man,’ fatso!”
GROOVY THINKIN’, LINCOLN You’ve been at shows wading shin-deep in discarded cups. You’ve been at shows where a one wrong step in the restrooms has resulted in a spine-mangling fall into used toilet water. You’ve stepped in barf, loogies, and sanitary products. But probably not at Heavy MTL: As crowds migrated from just-vacated stage to about-to-rock stage, a handful of staff dudes dispersed to rake up litter. Great plan! More impressive, at no point do I recall* gasping as I passed a row of portable tinkle facilities or permanent crappers due to a blast of sewage stench. And downright miraculous, I didn’t witness any aggressive security tactics, concertgoers ejected for mere mischief, or glowering of any type — mostly cuddly paramedics on bicycles and crowd-control bros stationed where a crush may occur. It was the right ration: Let’s all scale down the law enforcement (sneaky joints harm no one) and pump up the maintenance and safety (it sucks to party in a shit-reeking garbage pile or atop trampled teens).
THE MAYOR OF FUN CITY With a handful of songs left in At The Gates’ performance, singer Tomas Lindberg took a moment to work the crowd. Roughly: “Do you like death metallll?” Cheers. “Cmon guys you can do better than that. DO YOU LIKE … DEATH METAAALLLL?” More cheers. “Well, we in At The Gates do not like death metal.” Murmers. “We love death metalll!” Crickets. Yep, Tomas Lindberg’s material may have been authored by your wacky uncle. But it’s part of why Lindberg was the funnest guy (not funniest guy) on stage at Heavy MTL day one. Between hoary bits and a clunky hail to the late Jeff Hanneman, he was hot-footin’ all over the stage, one hand on mic and the other doing a furious door-knocker fist pump. You couldn’t help smiling. He kinda looked like a cousin to Fat Bastard or a hipster who’d just eaten Warrel Dane. And that’s fine, cuz Lindberg doesn’t have to look good to get girls and drugs.
MYTH BUSTERZ Disturbed frontman and writer of e-screeds David Draiman spent a bit of his afternoon hangin loose by the media tent. But during none of our silent encounters was he heatedly typing (in all caps) a demand for an end to the free use of signs and signifiers. Nor was he scribbling notes for a rant against media recklessness or those damn WWII buffs. (Or detailing hair-raising scenarios in which a jeering bystander has fled before the Trivium producer could retort.) Myth busted. He was just rapping about his band Device or waddling around.
MTL < L.A. Arriving in the province of Quebec, an American might make it a high-priority action item to try one particular local dish: a pile of fries and cheese curds doused in gravy called
poontang poutine. I sure made a beeline for it at the Heavy MTL grounds. But alas, neither putain’s poutine’s novelty nor deliciousness could bump fancy California-style pizza from the headline spot at Hungry ADF fest lol
FEST LYFE I polished off a refreshing smoothie and asked a nearby dude for the time. When he answered “It’s almost seven o’clock,” we both said “Already!?” Time had flown by and we agreed that nobody really looked bored or tired! Don’t you, MetalSucks reader, think that time drags and energy vanishes at a big, long show? There’s so much hurry-up-and-wait, so many self-assigned quests to fill time between sets, so much tapping your foot absently to the sound engineer’s MP3 shuffle while trying to find a neutral thing to stare at. But with Heavy MTL sets staggered and cushioned by only like five seconds of downtime, there’s no waiting. It was great to bypass the thuds of soundcheck, smh-ish conversations by your neighbors, and intermission rushes clogging the vital food vendors. It was awesome! Plus, sometimes you wouldn’t get a chance to bail — at least at the side-by-side main stages — before a new band kicked into gear. You could get sucked in and discover your new jam that way. I didn’t, but it happened!
GRAND THEFT FESTIVAL Glenn Danzig is a MILF. Know what I mean? He’s like those aged porn actresses, the ones whose bods, if viewed from the wrong angle and in unkind lighting, will endanger your boner. He’s got the requisite FUPA and scrag of crispy hair, too. But like the best two or three porn MILFs, Glenn Danzig can still fuck the shit out of you. His set at Heavy MTL was a party, all guys in their 30s and 40s wide-eyed at this chubby Glenn’s awesomeness. It was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Danzig’s self-titled debut, plus a jam each from II: Lucifuge and III: How The Gods Kill. That freak Doyle joined for a set of Misfits songs — and Rob Zombie too for “Vampira” — and that’s when it got really eurphoric. Highlights “I Turned Into A Martian” and “Astro Zombies” sounded amazing played by a real band that can keep time. For years I’ve been sick of “Skulls” and “Mother,” but Glenn and crew broke through that and I was spazzing out. It’s like, longevity isn’t an issue if your band’s focus is songs and performance, not genre and image. Yep, the whole day was stolen by a 58 year-old guy, his crack band, and his ancient jams.
BUMMER I last spoke to former Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly days before the first anniversary of Peter Steele’s death. Like his bandmates, Kelly was really cool and generous with his participation, and we did a classy story for Peter. Anyway, once it occured to me that Kelly and I would both be at Heavy MTL — he behind the drums with Danzig, me staring at stuff — I moved to set a time to catch up with him about the two years since and thank the shit outta him. But arrangements couldn’t be made and we didn’t bump into each other (despite my lurking). Bummer! Thank you Johnny Kelly u rule dude xoxo
HAS TIME FOLDED ONTO ITSELF? You’ve had experiences that would shock, disgust, and unsettle the person you were at age 13. Well, your 13 year-old self would definitely writhe in agony at the thought that in a couple decades, Megadeth’s energy would be so foul that a lover of Megadeth would rather go check out Motionless In White. Even though that means walking all the way back over to the small stage. How fucked up. But look, in 2013, Megadeth is shitty. They’d admit to that, like players on a crappy NBA team harbor no delusions about their status. They cop to bad chemistry, the presence of at least one diva, and the resulting Why Bother disposition. So it’s not an insult, just a measurement: Megadeth is shitty. Stick with them if you want no biggie, I still listen to Lost Prophets.
YOU’RE WELCOME I am not into Wintersun’s jam, but I am very into their vibe. A concertgoer could be too deaf or too far away and still recognize that the Wintersun performing unit is inspired and sure-footed like their leader. Even from space, you’d detect little cockiness (which accompanies the insincere) or phony humility (go-to for the uninspired). These guys are winners, and you cross your fingers that they someday set their sights on a style that you’re into more — more than you’re into their dramatic European tech-power metal — cuz they’d like kick ass at anything. As they are, Wintersun makes you kinda reconsider symphonic metal: I’ve used that term to describe metal acts that use big string sections (that should be called orchestral metal), but it better fits the structure of Wintersun odysseys. And it resonates with everybody, cuz random extreme metal dudes stuck around, and even some Motorhead vest bros jammed for like ten minutes. (It helped that Wintersun won fest honors for Best Kick Drum Sound. Like a wet bat to the sternum.) And those fans would never attend an uncool show like Wintersun, but it helped that the other option was Avenged Sevenfold. You’re welcome, Wintersun.
LAUGHING ABOUT STILL LAUGHING ABOUT Lexxi Foxxx’s number-one fan at Heavy MTL. Yeah for the first time like ever, a bass player was idolized. This bassist’s band, Steel Panther, is all about firsts. It was such a funny sight that I’m still laughing as I write this: A shorter, stouter fauxx-Lexxi went crowd surfing past me to my right. Sure, his Lexxi outfit was hilarious and his blow-up toy bass guitar super-cute — but what cracks me up was his frenetic Foxxx-style hair-brushing. The security guys were trying to help him down into the pit and he’s on his back, brushing wildly, wig akimbo. Twitter me brah u are hilarious @AnsoDF
EVERYBODY LUVS ANSO At midday of Heavy MTL day one, I hadn’t seen a single Mexican girl or sleepy blonde. This freaked me out, so excited as I was to have a full fest day to chip away at the resolve of a few of each. But by dinner, I remembered: the subway! Montreal’s public transit looked awesome, I recalled, which means that even in the small hours, its riders are normal people (not rancid USA-style unbangables). I calculated that my striking window consisted of two five-minute train rides, a bit of standing around on the platform, then a block-length tunnel to the hotel. That’s a scramble for me, but in an ocean of sweaty metal people in an underground cave at midnight, I was a spacey but fresh oasis for an office lady in a peach mini and white sleeveless blouse. Well that was my theory lol.
THIS MONTREAL! At times, Montreal seemed to me like a fantasy world populated by hilarious dudes, nice vibes, and cheap, powerful weed. Just a groovy part of town. So a visitor wouldn’t hesitate to embark from his hotel late at night and head out into unfamiliar territory. Unsure of my appetite, I could pass fast food joints and set a tentative destination of an option-rich convenience store. But I halt cuz, as happens in the ether, an all-night donut shop has appeared on the horizon. And it’s open! It’s classy like Mr. Donuts and nicer than Winchells. And, christ on the cross, their fancy apple strudel thingy was like whoa I was bracing myself on a street sign. What a magical place, this Montreal!
Thanks for reading, everybody! See you soon for Heavy MTL Day Two!