The Gig: Heavy T.O. music festival featuring headliners Megadeth, Anthrax and Motorhead
Where: Downsview Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 24 July 2011
In One Word: Shaky
This was a strange one. A bunch of metal bands turned up to play music to a few thousand people in a big field way up at the nosebleed north of Toronto, inside Downsview Park. I arrived as a photojournalist to cover the festival for Music Vice but was denied the photographer wristband necessary to do this properly – I had no access to the stage side photo pit but I was told I could still “bring my camera” and take photographs from the crowd. Hmm. I did take a few photos during Anthrax and Megadeth, but other than that it was a pointless and too hazardous task to be taking photographs, so apologies for the lack of band photos. I’m sure you can find plenty of close-ups elsewhere of Lemmy’s fantastic beard. I’ll give the organizers the benefit of the doubt and scratch this one off as being too late to the waterhole with my initial media request.
Speaking of waterholes… Being denied the correct colour wristband I needed to do my assignment was a personal irk, but I had real sympathy for others who I saw at Downsview Park being denied something a whole lot more vital: water. During Motorhead’s set, shortly after 8pm, I heard a young guy complaining that he couldn’t get water. Apparently there were water stations on site but these had been drunk dry of all their H2O hours earlier ago in the day. By the time Megadeth came on at 9pm, I heard lots more complaints about the lack of water being available. Reportedly some vendors were selling water at $2 a bottle then raising the price to $5, which is a disgrace. ‘Supply and demand’ should not come into play when it comes to a basic human right and need. Seemingly the only liquid readily available by the time Megadeth were on stage was beer, which is off course the last thing a dehydrated concert goer needs after being in a sweaty concert crowd all day during a heatwave.
This was the inaugural edition of Heavy T.O. and is also one of the very few major outdoor festivals that Toronto and Canada have had this year – it could have been a lot better. To be honest, it seemed almost like a carbon copy of Mayhem festival 2008, albeit with a different line-up. The bottom line is that Toronto and Canada are still waiting for a proper, major outdoor music festival that it deserves – Heavy T.O., with it’s limited genre appeal, was never going to be the answer.
As for the music? Well, there was a great array of thrash and heavy metal being delivered but I honestly could not get into any of it. As I reflected on Twitter; “I was in no mood for a metal fest today after the tragic events in the world. Life goes on, sure, but sometimes we should stop and remember.” Spare a moment of thought for the people of Norway during this time.
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice