August 1, 2013

Montreal fest has headbangers in mind

By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican

---- — MONTREAL — For the next two weekends, Parc Jean Drapeau is one big outdoor-musical-fest kind of place.

This weekend, indie music lovers will flock there to enjoy Osheaga from Friday to Sunday. Organizers recently announced a sold out festival — to the tune of some 40,000 tickets daily. This marks the second consecutive year Osheaga has sold out in the best of possible terms.

Evenko, the fest organizers, aren’t in a rush to strike the outdoor stages. Up next on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11, is Heavy MTL, a festival dedicated to the headbanger in us all.

For fans of the heavy-metal genre — and the variety of metal substyles that it includes — Heavy MTL is a dream come true. This year’s edition features 42 bands with an impressive lineup that includes Avenged Sevenfold, Rob Zombie, Megadeth, Danzig with Doyle, Mastodon, Black Label Society, Children of Bodom, Godsmack, August Burns Red, Wintersun, Steel Panther and Machine Head to name a few.

“This is definitely a more niche event compared to Osheaga,” said Heavy MTL artistic director Nick Farkas, who holds the same title for Osheaga. “But we’re one of the bigger metal and hard-rock festivals in North America right now.”

Farkas said he’s seen a nice progression of Montreal metal history with Heavy MTL, which this year marks its fifth edition.

“We get a lot of tourists for this one,” he said. “It seems like with Heavy (MTL) we get a lot of people who have never been to Montreal before. And they’re pretty impressed when they get here.”

Farkas said that seeing hard rock and metal in a big outdoor venue is a good way to go.

“We like taking this genre to the fest level,” Farkas said. “We like when the audience says, ‘Wow, that’s big, that’s powerful, and that’s the way we want to hear this music.’”

Loud equals good.

“It’s got to be loud,” Farkas quipped. “And this is the perfect environment. Jean Drapeau Park is just a gorgeous site and so conducive to people really getting a chance to enjoy world-class hard-rock music. That’s the goal.”

Programming a metal fest over the past five years has been an interesting ride for Farkas and his team. 

“We’re always trying to get enough of everything to make everyone happy,” he said. “There’s a lot of subgenres in metal and rock, but it’s fun. We really enjoy booking and planning this fest.”

Farkas doesn’t rely on his own metal instincts all the time. He gets a little help from the fans.

“There’s an immense amount of feedback from the ‘heavy nation,’” Farkas said. They’re really passionate about their music.”

To accommodate that passion, Farkas said the lineup is a “bit more eclectic” that from past editions.

“What we’ve realized over the years is that we never wanted this to be a pure metal fest,” he said. “We want to be able to do things that weren’t traditional metal. So it’s been an ongoing process to try and understand what the market wants.”

Moving forward means more rock, perhaps a bit of punk and a mix of established metal bands and those newer to the scene.

“But it will always be interesting.” Farkas said.

Farkas expects a crowd of 50,000 metalheads over the two-day event.

Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at

IF YOU GO WHAT: Heavy MTL WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11. WHERE: Parc Jean Drapeau, Montreal. The easiest way to get to Heavy MTL is by public transportation. Metro station Jean Drapeau leaves commuters in the thick of things. CONTACT: For more information, visit