Heavy T.O. 2012
It had been a year since I left Toronto after the inaugural edition of Heavy T.O. In a year, not much had changed. Canadians still can’t drive, covering things in gravy makes everything better, and Tim Hortons is still everywhere. The lineup was radically different this year without as many heavyweights in the mix, but apparently more of what the concert going crowd in Toronto wants to see. While I personally thought a Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, System of a Down, Five Finger Death Punch etc. lineup was pretty weak compared to the Megadeth, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Anthrax, Children Of Bodom, Motörhead, Opeth, Mastodon, etc. lineup of last year, it seemed like there were twice as many people in attendance for the second time around.
The name of the game this year was mud. Love it or hate it, you were covered in it. While being a tourist in Toronto this year, I couldn’t help but to laugh at all of the people who made rain boots part of their wardrobe. When the rains came throughout Saturday turning the entire venue into a giant mud wrestling pit, those people didn’t look quite as stupid. I also learned that Canadians are much more brutal than Americans when it comes to these things. Instead of looking for shelter from the storms, it just pissed the fans off and made them even more rowdy. The circle pits were endless, the crowd surfing was a twelve hour a day sport, and the mud was a part of everything remotely close to the venue by the end of the weekend.
Day one brought a little bit of disappointment from the ill advised kids in the crowd that we overheard that never got the memo that Dethklok had been replaced with The Dillinger Escape Plan and In Flames was filling in for Lamb of God. After So Sick Social Club and Dance Laury Dance had gotten out of the way, the fans were ready for a show. Protest The Hero and Cancer Bats both got the crowd ready for Overkill who put on a top notch show that was worthy of being a 7 or 8 p.m. show rather than a 2:45 show. Gojira was met with great excitement to match their relentless set that started the first great pit of the night. The Dillinger Escape Plan were damned good in their own right but didn’t seem to be for everybody. They were split down the middle in the way of love them or hate them, but those who loved them were plenty insane enough to make up for the others. Little did we know that we were seeing one of the last shows of theirs with guitarist Jeff Tuttle. Trivium was greeted with unexpected chaos that you would expect from a band like Lamb of God. Apparently another glaring difference between here and there is that too many people in their home state of Florida despise Trivium apparently for making something out of themselves while they are actually respected for their talent and killer live shows in a less biased country.
Suicidal Tendencies is exactly what you would expect from the hardcore punk legends. Even most of the Slipknot camp made their way on stage to catch at least a part of the set. In Flames was gracious enough to make their only two North American appearances this and the Montreal festival. They played a heavier set of both new and old, mixing songs such as ‘Trigger’ and ‘Only For The Weak’ with ‘Where The Dead Ships Dwell’ and ‘Fear Is The Weakness’ while the skies opened up. Unfortunately, Marilyn Manson was where the festival hit rock bottom. Marilyn Manson brings a certain amount of nostalgia with him because he was the shock rocker that most of us grew up with and many people never had a chance to see in his prime unfortunately. Aside from seeing him having to be shuttled from his bus to the stairs of the stage and then led up like the prima donna that he is, he ‘played’ an hour of greatest hits and cover songs. It was more along the lines of incoherently mumbling and shrieking through most of the set. Ripping a bible is the only ‘shocking’ part of his set left as well. His theatrics also died a decade ago when his voice and originality did. Slipknot made sure to make up for his shortcomings. They brought the full pyro show, almost a two hour set and a full crowd participation that left every security guard covered in mud and panting by 11 p.m. With thousands of fans covered in blood, beer, mud, spit and any other fluid imaginable, we had about twelve hours to dry our shoes and do it all again on Sunday.
Even though the show started a little bit late on Sunday, I’m not going to lie because I only got our clothes dried over the hotel room heater in time to catch the last five minutes of Rose Funeral. Aside from a five minute rain, it was a sunny day that one would have thought would dry some of the mud pit out. We were dead wrong. Somehow it became messier and the ground started to smell more like a giant Port-A-John. Origin got an unfair twenty minute set that was the musical equivalent of blue balls. Fleshgod Apocalypse wowed the still gathering crowd of the morning with their unique sound and a messy moshpit. A decent crowd had shuffled in by the time Exhumed hit the stage with their rock solid, blast from the past death metal sound, because up next were Periphery and The Faceless. Both bands are on top of their game right now and they are what the kids are paying to see right now which surprised everybody including me when they brought more of a crowd than the likes of Devildriver, Exodus or Volbeat did in 2011. Goatwhore have settled into the scene as old timers in comparison to most of the other bands around them and they showed the crowd how blackened death metal is supposed to be performed and started the first full on chant for any band all day. Veil of Maya and Between the Buried and Me both got the younger crowd into the show again just in time for Kataklysm.
Kataklysm is Canada’s finest export and they made the best of a short thirty minute set which should have been at least 45 minutes to an hour long. Thankfully Cannibal Corpse got a full hour to show the kids who weren’t even born yet when they were getting started what real brutal metal is. Killswitch Engage and The Deftones both stole the show on Sunday if you ask me. KSE has reunited with original vocalist Jesse Leach but they had no problem playing songs like ‘Rose of Sharyn’, ‘The End Of Heartache’ and ‘Holy Diver’ from the Howard Jones era as well as older songs such as ‘Fixation On The Darkness’. The Deftones kept up the high energy playing a greatest hits of both past and present that could have kept going for hours. Five Finger Death Punch was this years Billy Talent. Granted they are much more liked in the metal community than Billy Talent but the end result was similar. Some kids sang along to everything, while most others just chanted for System of a Down for the duration of the entire set. The lyrics are entirely too cheesy for the metal kids to take seriously and breaking out the acoustic guitar during their encore for ‘Remember Everything’ didn’t build any credibility for their metal résumé. Everybody was just ready for System of a Down and the turnout then looked much the same as the night before except the crowd was even more batshit crazy for the long awaited return of SOAD. They played pretty much everything a fan of theirs could want to hear except for ‘Spiders’ which would have made me happy. They were, however, very much a no frills band live. The entire chaotic experience was made possible by the insanity of tens of thousands of fans all vying for a spot within spitting distance of Serj Tankian and, you guessed it, insane amounts of mud. Their set ended abruptly after about an hour and a half with no encore and a bunch of people standing there telling themselves that it wasn’t over yet.
A great weekend festival had just come to a close. I had doubts that such a large turnout was possible when compared to last year, but they proved me and a lot of other doubters dead wrong. I also want to give an insane amount of props to Live Nation once again this year. They put together an amazing festival for the fans, the bands and all of the people involved. Usually it seems like festivals are a penance that bands must pay in order to gain recognition or just a decent meal at the end of the day. However Live Nation went all out by providing all of the bands with air conditioned trailers, showers, clean toilets, catered meals and even a masseuse working all day, not to mention the insane amounts of beer and Jagermeister on hand. The Jager bottle carved ice sculpture with the slide built in that was placed amongst the endless Jager supply backstage is something that my girlfriend, my beard and I will not soon forget, much less the rest of another phenomenal weekend in Toronto. For as long as they keep putting together a solid lineup, I will have to keep longing to go back for heavy metal and things smothered in gravy every summer.
I also apologize for some shaky videos this year, I seemed to get beat up on the rail a lot more this year than last year.