The epic marathon weekend that was the 2019 edition of ’77 Montreal and Heavy Montreal is in the books. The beloved Heavy Montreal festival resumed its rightful place on the sprawling site at Parc Jean-Drapeau after years of renovations to improve the massive park. Blistering hot weather welcomed the faces of dozens of thousands of heavy music fans, while droves of killer bands delivered jaw-dropping performances during the course of the weekend.
Check out our festival recap and 500+ of the best photos from the weekend below.
Many fans attended all three days of what is technically two separate festivals. The first day ’77 Montreal is a more punk-centric affair, while the second and third days showcased the blast beats, the howling vocals, shredding and heavy metal diversity that one would expect of Heavy Montreal.
The first day, the ’77 Montreal portion kicked off with a bang and potentially one of my favorite performances on the day. Local punk outfit Young Party mix a Blink 182 level of punk with lyrics for kids, stuff like grandma is awesome, eating your veggies, going to the zoo and bath time. Delivered in a very serious manner it may be asinine or it may be genius, but it sure is some catchy punk.
Amid a sea of bobbing mohawks, the subsequent bands belted out terrific performances. Canadian artists such as The Lookout, The Anti-Queens and Sudden Impact helped set an impressive bar for the bands that would follow the rest of the day. Punk heavy-weights such as Cro-Mags, Pennywise, and Bad Religion brought the day home as the crowd swelled in size every passing hour.
Los Angeles rockers Off! delivered a particularly impressive set, blending heavy duty punk riffs with cool rant-rage interludes about technology and society. Wicked performance.
As the sun beat down on the morning of the first day of Heavy Montreal, many of the same fans as the day previous limped back into the site, often turning to an ice-cold beer to get the party flowing through their veins once again. They arrived by the thousands, a very impressive early turnout for what would prove an incredibly deep line-up featuring sci-fi power-nerd outfit Galactic Empire opening the day at one of the main stages. Adorned just closely enough not to be sued, the likes of Darth Vader, Boba Fett, a stormtrooper, and an Imperial Guard wailed through many of the most beloved instrumental wonders of the Star Wars universe, delivered in power-metal style. Very cool.
And that would only prove to be an appetizer as impressive performances by the likes of the ultra-hyper Fever 333, Nekrogoblikon, Hatebreed, Evanesence, All That Remains, Killswitch Engage and Steel Panther that would follow.
A sure-fire highlight of the festival was Devin Townsend delivering an acoustic set that was absolutely crushing. The vocal contrast of soaring spacey intergalactic triumph, pivoting to rage and anguish? Absolutely incredible. The power this man can project with his voice is breathtaking.
Meanwhile at the wonderfully not-tranquil “Forest Stage,” satanic black metal outfit Watain delivered a ferocious, dark, and evil-evoking set into an impressive crowd. So impressive a gathering perhaps that the band decided to throw a lit torch into the crowd after using it to light their upside-down crucifixes and props on the stage at the start of the show. Luckily nobody seemed to be hurt, and the torch was safely returned to the security pit detail, by the howling fans near the rail.
One of the low-lights of the festival was a shitty set from Godsmack, featuring cringe-worthy calls for boobs over and over, that couldn’t see the band fill a 50 minute set with solid material – instead they padded it with way too much talking, cover-montages by other bands, and (pretty cool) drum solos. Personally I blame covering Godsmack on a combination of heat stroke and the fact someone told me they were touring with pyro. I really regret not catching Carnifex and Cattle Decapitation instead.
While they are as popular in Montreal as anywhere on Earth, Saturday headliners Ghost fronted by Cardinal Coppia, delivered an amazing set in front of what felt like miles of fans piled in to see them. Meanwhile at a rival stage, Dying Fetus was delivering a jaw dropping set that I managed to catch half of. If I’ve ever seen the crowd in the pit go primal, and for security to reciprocate, screaming for the fans to bring it, this was it. It was like a savage but respectful war between fans and pit security. The entire ordeal was epic, and those guys in the pit deserve an Olympic medal for their endurance and handling of the entire situation. Incredible.
And as a scorching sun rose on the last day, it would prove to be the deepest and most incredible line-up of the weekend.
While local emerging rock outfit Mountain Dust provided an awesome festival opener set, other notables on the day included Skálmöld, Atreyu, Skillet, Fu Manchu, Clutch, In This Moment, and Slash & Myles Kennedy.
Early in the day droves of people crushed against the barricades to witness a hyper performance by Kentucky’s Knocked Loose. The mostly younger fans seemed absorbed by it, myself I couldn’t quite shake the vocal delivery that instantly reminded me of this.
The afternoon featured an awesome retro-power performance by Beast in Black. How had I never heard of these guys? They were amazing live.
At the peak of the sweltering midday heat, an impressive Metalachi crowd swarmed in to see the metal mariachi five-piece perform renditions from the likes of Dio, Ozzy, Queen, Iron Maiden and Slayer. The crowd was thick and partying hard for this one, as the band suggested that everyone in the entire crowd would become pregnant from the might of their performance, or at least get pink eye.
Corrosion of Conformity laid down one of the best performances of the entire weekend. Personally seeing them live for the first time, hearing them perform brain breaking versions of classics like Albatross and Clean my Wounds, had my hair standing on end. They were extremely impressive.
Anthrax were inducted into The Hall of Heavy Metal at a Sunday event during the festival, and later invaded Main Stage 2 to unleash a blistering performance, the best I’ve ever seen them live.
The pinnacle of the entire weekend for more reasons than one, the almighty fucking SLAYER stormed the main stage and lacerated the countless thousands of fans howling and thrashing at their feet. As part of their farewell tour, their last ever show in the province of Quebec, the band drew bangers from around the world to take in an incredible, pyro-laden set. Spiraling through classics, old and new, and while the stage spewed inverted flame crosses that could probably seen from the International Space Station, the massive crowd stomped and thrashed and moshed and howled. “We’ll miss you guys,” Tom Araya remarked at the end of the set before taking several minutes to peer out into the massive crowd, simply absorbing it all. Surprisingly emotional stuff and certainly reciprocal, we’ll miss you guys too.
An incredible weekend of heavy festival music, and where the organizers manage to curate an incredibly deep and impressive line-up of bands, as always. What were some of your personal highlights from the weekend? Let us know in the comments section below. \m/