HeavyMetalAdam Invades Heavy TO: The Homecoming

By Adam Wills

This weekend marks the first installment of Heavy TO, Toronto’s spinoff of the previously visited Heavy MTL. Having attending the previous event in Montreal, I decided to stay a bit closer to home and catch the inaugural event here in Ontario. As I have done at the previous festivals, I’ll be live blogging throughout the weekend. Keep up, as this will be updated all weekend!

Day 1

And we’re off! Hellbounders Albert Mansour, Laura Wiebe, Sean Palmerston and I piled into a car, and are en route to Toronto…. It’s already blisteringly hot outside.

Arrived at Downsview Park. Already quite a few people here. Devildriver on, and getting a pretty positive reaction. Met up with David and Joel from Woods of Ypres… And almost fell over when I saw the beer garden. $8 for a small beer? And my only choice is Budweiser? Really?

Diamond Head is absolutely killer. Opening up with “It’s Electric, the crowd is being treated with some classic metal in between all of the metalcore-ish bands early in the day. The crowd has just gone crazy as they’re currently belting out “Am I Evil?”. Why am I not paying attention right now?

Underoath is providing the soundtrack to my first break. Grabbed some food, and looked for some shade to sit in, but there really isn’t any. With how hot it’s been this week, I hoped that there would be a bit more of an effort to address this for the attendees. Publicly available water (besides the washing area in the toiletry area) should have been a no-brained.

There seems to be a change of plans… Times of Grace played for 45 minutes instead of 30, and Children of Bodom’s stage set is out. No sign of The Sword. No notifications by HeavyTo via Twitter or their official app. Whichever band is playing, they didn’t even have time to soundcheck, even with the extra 15 minutes given.

While last minute changes do need to happen… Keep your attendees up to date.

So, after The Sword’s set was supposed to be done, some radio hosts got on stage to finally announce that The Sword had border issues and were unable to play. Attention was turned to As I Lay Dying, and the schedule was back on track. I sampled them, but I couldn’t make it past a couple songs… While there’s a lot of people here to see them, and they do put on an energetic performance, they’re just not my thing.

It’s finally starting to cool down. Bumped into a “journalist” from Florida, who was surprised that Canada was so warm and so full of Asians. Riiiiight……

Children of Bodom on stage. I always expected Alexei to be a little more active on stage (perhaps it’s the heat getting to him), but they’re still putting on a solid performance that the crowd is digging.

I believe I just saw a bride walk by in her wedding dress….

Anthrax. Joey Belladonna. Joey Belladonna’s hair.

Seriously though, Anthrax are easily the most fun that I’ve had so far. Joey’s sincere excitement about every performance easily shows and the rest of the band complements his energy just fine.

“Yes, we fucking love Rush!” -Joey Belladonna.

Opeth was Opeth. They sounded great, and played a very familiar playlist. No new material, unfortunately. However, they’ll be back in Toronto in October touring with new material.

Went to grab dinner. Asked for a beverage. Sold out. Went to another booth. Sold out. Turns out that everyone sold of of non-alcoholic drinks, and the park had to bring in an emergency supply of bottled water. That’s insane.

An interesting end of the evening.

Motörhead was their usual selves. The rain that started during Opeth’s set continued, and cooled everyone down. Lemmy’s voice was as raspy as ever, as the legendary threesome pelted out pretty much the same setlist that they’ve been playing for awhile.

Megadeth were clearly the band that everyone was waiting for, as chants of “Megadeth” took over. Dave Mustaine and company are a well oiled machine, blasting out song after song with minimal breaks between tracks.

At about 10:20, the band thanked the crowd, which is normal for a headliner to do before their mandatory encore… However, the ‘deth were giving a very extended goodbye… And then they were done. 40 minutes before their advertised 2 hour time slot was supposed to be done. No explanation.

Day 1 is in the books… The bands were great, but their was some odd organizational incidents that popped up here and there. We’ll call them first time glitches…

Day 2 is looking promising… A beautiful day with a ton of great bands… I can’t wait.

Day 2

Exodus hits the stage and everyone immediately starts going insane. Rob Dukes knows how to get a crowd going, whether it’s applauding their efforts, or taunting them for the lack of.

Also, I just witnessed the first ejection of a drunk Slayer fan. It’s 1:45 in the afternoon. SLLLLLAAAAAAYYYYYYEERRRRRRRR!!!!!

Death Angel set the stage for stage energy, while Volbeat lead the crowd in a Johnny Cash sing-a-long. Both great sets. With the amount of quality bands playing today, it’s tough to find time for a break to eat and blog.

There’s already a plethora of anti-Billy Talent signs parading around the grounds. Should be interesting….

Melissa auf der Maur is covering Danzig’s “Devil’s Plaything”. She’s so great live, and totally welcome here at a metal festival.

Wow, what a voice (MadM).

Anvil’s on now. Just finished the epic “Mothra”, and expect to hear their classic “Metal on Metal” next. They’re as genuine as a band can get, and their story is often more interesting than their music, but are having an absolute blast playing a metal festival in their hometown. I’m sure it’s yet another dream that’s come true for them over the past couple years.

Testament are part way through a crushing set. Easily the heaviest band of the day, especially Chuck Billy’s vocals. Although I think my favourite part is the massive amount of air guitar Chuck Billy plays throughout their set.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen Mastodon, but every time I hear they’re coming to town, I look forward to it, and today is no different. The Atlanta foursome continue to pick up momentum on the eve of their upcoming release, as they plow through a thunderous set spanning their entire catalogue. Hoping for a taste of new material, but not going to hold my breath.

Slayer spent the last hour riling up the crowd (there’s definitely more people here today as compared to yesterday) with their usual list of classics with some newer material thrown in here and there. Exodus’ Gary Holt filled in Jeff Hanneman’s spot just fine. No surprises, but it’s just what the bloodthirsty Slayer fans were craving.

Observing Billy Talent out of sheer curiosity. I havent seen any projectiles or riots… Just a rush of people towards the beer tent. While the vocalist reads of all of the anti-Billy Talent signs, it seems that the biggest feeling from fans is indifference, rather than unnecessary (and stupid) anger.

Currently watching a drum solo during Rob Zombie… My least favourite part of a rock concert. Zombie’s theatrics are second to none. A gigantic dry ice spewing robot just entered the stage area. Between the animatronics and the video displays, Zombie can entertain anyone, even if you’re not that fond of his music.


All in all, this was a pretty solid festival, especially for the first time around.  There’s definitely potential, but I think there’s some key points that need to be addressed for next year.

1) While it’s nice to invite bands back, the fact that a lot of people saw a very similar lineup in Montreal last year definitely was a damper on the excitement level for quite a few.

2) It’s the middle of summer. Last week, we experienced one of the hottest days in recent history.  People are going to be outside in the extremely humid heat all day.  Please provide them with free water.  It’s important for the health of attendees.

I don’t want to leave this on a negative note, so let’s look at how the festival succeeded.

1) The organization of the running of the festival went smoothly (at least from an attendees perspective).  Bands went on when they were supposed to, and finished when they were supposed to.  This is a tough thing to do, and I applaud the effort that was made by the crew and bands alike.

2) The attendees behaved.  Sure, there was lots of speculation on the treatment that the out-of-place Billy Talent would receive… but it was all talk.  The band went on to play an uninterrupted set, and even poked fun at the few signs there were expressing some people’s opinion that they shouldn’t be playing the metal fest. Well done, Toronto.

3) The music.  Everyone who played sounded great (despite one’s opinion of the band).  There was something for everyone.  And really, isn’t this the point that matters the most at a festival?

Adam has been a photographer for Hellbound since day 1 and also has a hand in the technical aspects of running the site.

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