Day One at Heavy Montreal: a Non-Metalhead Perspective

Last Friday, day one of the annual Heavy Montreal metalhead extravaganza kicked off under grey skies and on top of gravel rock and patches of artificial grass at Parc Jean-Drapeau.

There were lots of white people, specifically those of the overly-emphasized male gender. I wore a black tee and black shorts to mark the special occasion—got to blend in my scrawny physique and Pacific Islander features, right?

Unlike last weekend’s Osheaga, a festival that’s become a hotspot for a more mainstream youth demo up and down North America’s east coast, Heavy Montreal largely lacked people staring at their phones and recording every waking moment of the experience.

It seems that metal fans care more about the music and less about documenting their existence for nobody. In fact, I got a stink eye from a man for filming an act with him in view. Kudos to you metal fans!

From an ignorant and uninformed perspective, the festival taught me why metal music resonates with so many people. Like most tracks from Drizzy Drake’s “Take Care” record, there’s something cheesy about the genre. They both gratify our societal longing for simplistic, Hollywood-defined emotions—being heartbroken, in love, angry.

Whether it’s Drake rapping about his drunk calls to his ex on the “Marvin’s Room” track or Bullet For My Valentine singing about their hearts bursting into fire, these two different types of music satisfy the human condition to want to love and be loved.

Here are some other observations from Heavy Montreal day one:

  • A guy selling lemonade with a wig was headbanging the whole time. I think he took the job to get in for free. Smart.
  • Venom Inc. is old. I liked one of their songs, where the chorus was, “Die hard.”
  • A vendor giving out free Coke beverages led me to believe that the company is trying to gain an upperhand on Mountain Dew Code Red’s main demographic of angsty white teens who don’t leave their room often.
  • For some reason, I had the suspicion that majority of the audience were Green party Elizabeth May supporters.
  • In the bathroom line, a guy behind me was wearing stereotypical BDSM-attire complete with a black leather Jason mask. A guy in front of me complained about the lack of mosh pits. Which made me realize white people are generally allowed to dress scary and act violently without much fear of being arrested or killed by police.
  • Number of those slightly out-of-place Nirvana black tees with a yellow smiley face: four (five if you include the random guy I saw on my way home in the Plateau).
  • Lagwagon looked like a reunion of your Dad’s high school band. They were more 90’s pop-punk cover band than metal.
  • Meshuggah lead singer Jens Kidman had God-like powers. It’s as if mosh pits appeared at the raising of his hand.
  • Alissa White-Gluz, the lead singer of Arch Enemy, won my award for most metal screaming voice. She commanded the crowd triumphantly.
  • Extreme won my least metal award of the day. One-time Van Halen frontman Gary Cherone and guitarist Nuno Bettencourt sang their popular 90’s pop hit, “More than words.” Seeing shirtless, bicep-bulging men sing along was almost tear-jerking.

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