1 day, 2 festivals, 3 music legends

Metal & hip hop collided last Sunday at Heavy Montreal & Under Pressure. Here’s a feature report from the field, feat. Body Count, GrimSkunk, Fucked Up, Afrika Bambaataa & more.

Ice-T 2 (640x480)
Ice-T with Body Count. Photos by Darcy MacDonald
I’ma get biblical on your asses.

“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” –Mark 3:25

And if that ye forth shall be truthful indeed, I had no choice but to find a way to juggle Under Pressure and my first ever Heavy Montreal experience into a manageable weekend. I succeeded in every way except “manageable”. Shit got outta hand. This is a tale of muddy boots and dutty roots.

We’ll skip ahead to last Sunday, Aug. 10. The day previous at UP was lovely, with friends, family and funky shit for eyes and ears in overwhelming abundance. It kinda sucked knowing I had to pass on most of day two. I knew I’d miss watching K6A put that Hunter S. joint to bed, entre autre.

But headed home, the knowledge that I’d kick off the next afternoon with GrimSkunk over at Parc Jean Drapeau took over. I was geeked to find out what Heavy was gonna be about. And if I did this right I was gonna get to see Ice T with Body Count and Afrika Bambaataa closing out UP at Foufs on the same day. Not to mention Fucked Up. Fucked Up is my favourite thing. More on that later.

So I got in that night and listened to a bunch of aggressive shit, slyin’ in on recent Body Count playlists and getting mad hyped. I grew up on a hearty diet of all kinds of different music. My big brother notably got me into a lotta metal and alt-rock from a really young age and introduced hip hop to my life. Without getting all Abe Simpson about it, suffice to say that as much as I’m that hip hop dude, hard music is something I came up in a very engaged way.

When morning came I decided to go incognito and really give it my Sunday best. I cut the sleeves and neck off a classic (and formerly-ill-fitting) GrimSkunk shirt, wrapped my saved-for-only-the-sleaziest-occasions pin-up girl T around my head for baldness protection, and broke out the 10-hole, steel-toe Docs I keep handy and polished for church and teaching ESL courses to C-level execs and high-powered attorneys. Plus my big black shades. All in all it conformed to a look I can best describe as “the dewwwwssshhh.”

Heavy cube (640x480)Having spent the previous weekend bro-ing down at Osheaga, the onslaught of festival-ready metro riders seemed remarkably tame. It’s my understanding that the previous day’s gathering of Metallica faithful lent itself to a rowdier vibe all around, but my first experience in the Heavy crowd — albeit early in the day — was downright polite, and I daresay better-smelling, by comparison. We’ll see what happens on the metro back.

I checked in and arrived in timely fashion, at first unrecognized by a friend at the media accreditation table. Perfect. I had enough time to find my bearings, grab a beer and head into the early crowd gathered for the Skunks on the main stage. I kinda heard Cancer Bats do that Bat Sabbath thing in the background. It was cool.

When I was 14 and into heavy shit and ska and punk (and almost anything but hip hop outta boredom), GrimSkunk were my earliest local heroes. I loved Me Mom in their own right then, too, but GS had me on that style-mashup tip, the same thing that Fishbone and the Chilis and later Rage and 311 did for me.

My homie Runt had their first tape Autumn Flowers in like ’92. I remember buying Exotic Blends with an HMV $5 discount coupon for $1.99 and tax. I remember almost getting trampled selling an extra ticket for the launch of their eponymous album, their first CD. I am a pure laine GrimSkunk fan. And yet I hadn’t seen them in at least 15 years easy.

C’tait nice en osti. It put me in a way I can’t describe. It was church. It was what I save my boots for. I wyled out to their reggae, jumped up and down with “Sliverhead” and “Gormenghast”, marvelled at the early-day circle pit full of mental teens I was going nowhere near, and kept my shit lit even when I got nailed with the water-hose. It was a half hour that set my mood right for the day, and everything I hoped it would be. We’ve all aged very well if I may say.

CONTINUE TO PAGE 2: Body Count and Heavy (wrestle) Mania