MONTREAL — Headbangers unite.
Heavy MTL, a play on words on the heavy-metal music genre and the city name, itself, comes to Jean Drapeau Park for two days of outdoor music Aug. 11 and 12.
This year’s edition features some 40 bands on three stages with an impressive lineup that includes Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, System of a Down, Deftones, Killswitch Engage, Suicidal Tendancies, Five Finger Death Punch, Dethklok, Voivod, Cannibal Corpse, Overkill, Protest the Hero and Job for a Cowboy.
For fans of the heavy-metal genre — and the variety of metal sub styles it includes — Heavy MTL is a metal head’s dream come true.
“Montreal and the province of Quebec is probably one of the strongest markets for heavy-metal music and hard rock in North America,” said Heavy MTL artistic director Nick Farkas. If the name sounds familiar, Farkas also holds the same title for the Osheaga Music Festival, which takes place this weekend.
“We’re just responding to the audience. People really love this genre,” he said. “And we thought that we could put together a heavy-music festival that people would come to and enjoy.”
And so far, he’s right, as Heavy MTL is celebrating its fourth edition. The festival began in 2008 and had a hiatus in 2009, but it has been moving along at a popular pace annually since then.
“We came back strong in ‘10 and ‘11 but, this year, we have our strongest lineup by far,” Farkas said. “It’s a huge undertaking, but we try to make it as complete as possible and put a little something in for everyone. But like Osheaga, it’s always a work in progress. You try to figure out what people want to hear. It’s been an interesting journey to program it.”
INPUT FROM FANS
Farkas said he gets a little help from some loyal followers; the Heavy MTL Facebook page boasts more than 55,000 fans.
“We try and listen to our fans as much as possible,” Farkas said, pointing out that many fans come from south of the Canadian border.
“We get a lot of fans from the Plattsburgh area and Vermont.”
And what fans they are.
“These fans are fanatical,” Farkas said. “They’re very loyal and very into the show.”
Farkas admits that while he does enjoy the genre, it’s still a bit of a learning curve for him. A team of five staff members plus consultants help him choose the music lineup.
“I’m a bit more old school in the genre,” he quipped. “But that’s why we pay so much attention to what the fans are posting on our Facebook page.”
Farkas said the resulting lineup “really feels like a group effort.”
The Heavy MTL site boasts three stages set up at Jean Drapeau Park. The fact that Osheaga takes place the week before is a bonus. “We just leave all the stages up until the next week.”
Farkas expects a crowd of 50,000 metal heads over the two-day event.
“It’s probably one of the largest, if not the largest, rock-metal festival in North America,” he said.
Farkas said mostly a young crowd — males in their 20s and 30s — enjoys Heavy MTL. But there’s one unique aspect of this fest in particular.
“You will literally get three generations of metalists,” he said. “You get kids with their dads and their dads. It’s a surprising cross section of people that come out for this. There’s such a fun, awesome spirit of camaraderie.”
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Heavy MTL.
WHEN: Aug. 11 and 12.
WHERE: Jean Drapeau Park, Montreal. The easiest way to get to Heavy MTL is by public transportation; metro station Jean Drapeau will leave concert-goers in the thick of things.
ADMISSION: The two-day general admission weekend pass costs $153.50 (Canadian dollars). Single-day admission is $85.50. Order tickets through www.evenko.ca.
CONTACT: For more information, visit www.heavymtl.com.