A Couple Easy Reasons I’ll Never Go Back to HeavyMTL

This was my first Montreal festival.

Sure, I’d been to a couple of POP! shows, and I’d perused a handful of Jazz Fest can’t-misses, and, obviously, I went to see Weird Al at Just For Laughs. But last Saturday, in the brutal August heat, I found my way to Parc Jean-Drapeau for HeavyMTL Day Two, my honest-to-goodness first major festival experience in Montreal.

I had expected a lot. Mostly just obvious things – the heat, the rush of the crowd, the electric excitement permeating the air, the community of various festival goers from all walks, come to make friends and let loose. I had expected your average festival in the North American summer fest-circuit; full of underdressed/overdressed teens and their motley crews, extra excited to let off some steam to their favorite bands. I expected to do a lot of laughing.

I can honestly say I’ve never been to a worse place than Jean-Drapeau on that Saturday.

Holy Shit, Who Are All These Old Men?

When did I miss the memo on Old White Dudes loving Metal? I thought at first it was an isolated incident, thinking the first few bands of leathery fifty-somethings, sporting their favorite Harley Davidson or Motorhead or weird pro-booze, anti-women t-shirts began to follow me down the tunnel at Berri-UQAM toward the yellow line.

But this was no fluke. The bands became groups, and then sweaty, stinky, loud crowds to be filed through Jean-Drapeau station and out into lines like cattle at the main Heavy gates. At this moment, as I’m being filed toward Destination-Heavy, I note something on my phone:

“I have never wanted to make friends less.”

It’s not even close to an overstatement. The peacocking from aged metalheads is out of control right now. Next to me in line, I listen to three mid-40s fellows in black leather vests compare stories of past “Pussy-Parties,” post-fest revelries of considerable suspect (by me) in years past. Every time one of them divulges a particularly juicy detail (“She lost a piercing!”), one or both listening men would either make the metal sign or punch the other.

I’m Pretty Sure I’ve Never Hated More Bands At Once

I had come to see my friends in Deafheaven—a post-black metal project out of California—who’ve released some pretty fantastic atmospheric black in the last couple years. And also to catch Iggy Pop on what could very well be his last tour. I’m a big metal fan, but I tend to focus away from more power and thrash metal—my favorite bands are Godflesh, Swans, and Eyehategod, to give you an idea of where I’m coming from—so I wasn’t too literate of most of Day Two’s lineup.

I came with an open mind, though, about the music. I came with an open mind about the whole thing. I really did.

Jesus Christ, I’ve never wanted to leave a place more than standing through some of those sets. I can understand that festivals are definitely not ideal places for most bands to play—crowds are hot and tired, your set times are frustratingly rigid, and often there are several other shows going on at a given time. But these sets were downright self-indulgent. I’ve honestly never heard the word “pussy” said more on various stages in such little time. At certain points, with the whole surging sea of white faces and all the chanting of “pussy” and the like, it genuinely felt like I was at a men’s rights protest, or an Aryan rights one.

I’ve Never Been More Afraid To Be Engaged By Anyone

Have you ever had to desperately avoid eye-contact with a ripped man in full Devil costumery?
Have you ever seen a band’s frontman take the stage by proclaiming, “I’m your host! I’m gonna swear, I’m gonna talk to you about my dick, and I’m gonna crush pussy after the show?” Have you ever seen all the members of Venom casually taking photos with men in corpse paint? All in a totally shadeless, huge dirt field, being beaten down by the most oppressive ultraviolet rays of August? I have never had more power solos forced onto me as the background music to a chorus of middle aged men practice their pig squeals.

And I got a terrible sunburn.

A Couple Choice Thoughts I Can’t Formulate Further But Still Think Are Pertinent

  • Dude painted entirely in Corpse Paint, headbanging so hard to “Lust for Life”: what’s your story, man?
  • What the fuck is Jason Rockman’s problem?
  • I got denied leaving at one point. It’s the only reason I stayed for Iggy Pop, which was amazing, so thank you security guard who couldn’t figure out how to scan my ticket out.
  • George from Deafheaven’s live persona is awesome but came off really kitsch in front of all these Metal fans.
  • I saw an overweight, goateed, mustachioed 50 year old wearing a Sunn((0)) shirt.
  • I saw a full grown man with a goatee in a Jake costume; the word ‘DEATH’ was written on the back of it. His friend was in a Finn suit; he also had a goatee.
  • There were a lot of goatees.
  • I laughed once in eight hours, and it was at a man in a “HotWeed” shirt (like HotWheels, get it?) drunkenly missing the urinal in the urinal forest.
  • There was a urinal forest.
  • I have never seen a higher density of shirts purporting to give zero fucks.
  • I can’t believe this festival stole this island.

5 Things Fantasia Film Festival Can Do Better »

« Day One at Heavy Montreal: a Non-Metalhead Perspective