I should probably get some of these memories on paper before I forget what happened. The entire weekend of Montebello's ROCKFEST was [somewhat] of a big blur. You spend months getting excited and prepared for the countless amount of bands and fans descending upon the small farming town. That's why this time around I did not want to spend my weekend taking sub-par photos and video in hopes all 13 people watch my clip of one band (it's even funnier knowing I have a YouTube account with some of those clips). Instead, I decided to take less photos and capture more memories. Let the professionals take the photos and video...I am here for the beer and the good times!
So a 5:30am start time kicked off the weekend as we booked it out of Toronto before traffic set in on a Friday. After a brief stop in Trenton's service station, we jumped on the Trans Canada Highway and zoomed through Ottawa. Unfortunately, good times ceased for a few hours. Since there were approximately 20,000+ of us trying to get set up at our camping spaces, the traffic getting into the festival proved to be a little bit of a headache.
Logistically, last year was a mess with thousands of fans waiting anxiously to get their passes and jump into the festival. This time around, the line ups were absolutely flawless but the exit ramp for HWY 50 proved to be more of a parking lot. It sucks when you got about 1/4 tank of gas and waiting for 2+ hours to get to your camp site. If anyone from Rockfest is reading this, that is my ONLY complaint. Have paid duty officers at the HWY 50 off ramp(s) and to help migrate traffic better. Good thing I got some good friends (Alli, Kat, Scott, and Jenn) to keep me company and not get into road rage mode. Thanks folks!
So after the wait in traffic we finally reached our destination, met our camping host, parked the car, and got down to business. Tents went up in a flash and soon enough we were able to crack a brew and walk down to the festival entrance. Probably one of the best perks of a Quebec festival is the non-conservative mentality. There is a good chance that having an open beer in Ontario would get you some extra attention. But in Montebello, everyone was enjoying the sunshine, food and, drinks. Police focused on being vigilant rather than petty offenses. Not to mention...it's a rock festival!
After entering the grounds, the time just started to slip by faster and faster. After stuffing your face with stereotypical poutine and Budweiser, you would have just enough time to venture to the next performance. OK, sorry to readers but I lied. That was my other issue. I understand that Budweiser forked over quite a bit of money to get a stage named after them and exclusive contract for the festival, but please provide something a little more Canadian next time. Both Ontario and Quebec offer soooooo many amazing craft brews. I thought about this ahead of time and stocked up on my craft beer for our camp site. There's only so much Budweiser you can drink before it starts to leave a bad after taste in your mouth (at least that's what I noticed).
(Throwdown on the Jager Stage on Saturday afternoon)
Speaking about it earlier, walking between five stages to catch your favourite bands is a chore in itself. Not that proximity was an issue but the weaving in and out of other fans looking to catch their favourite acts. However, we all knew we had places to be so we made sure to catch our favourite bands at least 30-45 mins prior to show time.
Highlight band of Friday: Meshuggah!
These guys without a doubt put on the best performance (in my opinion) of Friday's festivities. With a 9:15pm start time, the guys pummeled through their set comprised of material from their 25 year career. If you were fortunate enough (like me) to grab a spot close to the front, you could literally feel the sub woofers pushing you back ever so slightly. I think the only let down was the lack of push back from the other moshers. Try harder next time guys. ;-)
Highlight band of Saturday: Alice In Chains!
OK, let's get real here. These guys were the reason I bought my ticket to Rockfest. I would easily pay $100 just for them. But fortunately, I got 149 other bands as well for the same price! Ripping through song after song, I was in momentary bliss as they have been one of my all time favourite bands. Duvall and Cantrell sang impeccably well, with Inez and Kinney providing that "umph" that everyone was headbanging along to. Top notch guys and well done. You won over some new fans from what I was hearing. But of course, I wasn't the only person with an opinion. I asked my friends who they thought did the best performance.
Jenn: "I loved alice in chains! I was blown away by seeing William DuVall on stage! As a frontman he killed it!"
Kat: "The Interruptors and Anti-Flag - for the sheer energy (and surprise appearance by Tim fucking Armstrong of course)."
Scott: "Blink 182! Been listening to them since I was in grade 7, and never got the chance until now to see them. They still crack me up and rock it.
Me First and The Gimme Gimmes / Vandals. Fucking pure entertainment.
Alice In Chains. They blew me away, just hearing all those songs that I never thought I'd get a chance to hear live. (I'm cheap when it comes to tickets and can't justify the prices of huge names like that)
The Interrupters for being amazing and especially because of last minute fill in for the Street Dogs. and then Tim Armstrong shows up drunk and plays a few songs with them. Totally unexpected since none of his acts were part of the festival!
Last but not least, COCK SPARRER. I was pretty drunk, but am almost certain they said it was their first time playing Canada. They killed it, those old guys know how to get a crowd moving."
Alli: "ALICE IN CHAINS
Those guys still rock like it's the 90's and DuVall brings a groove like no other - the band is always on par!
The teenager in me is released whenever they take center stage!
A DAY TO REMEMBER
Hearing '2nd Sucks' live pretty much made my year! They were super awesome and played a very high energy set.
I can't believe I heard songs that I crank in my living room live on stage. If only I was alive during The Runaways days..
...Punk bands galore - can't pick a fav but seeing The Misfits and seeing Me First and the Gimme Gimmes was awesome. I listened to A LOT of punk in high school and seeing the aging band members still rocking out not only made my jaw drop but again brought me back to my teenage days and I'm pretty sure I was wearing a perma-smile. Couldn't be happier with the line-up and thanks to the sun I've been kissed with freckles as a permanent memory of the festival!"
One thing I have to mention about this festival was that I encountered ZERO incidents. And by that I mean no drunken fights, no arrests, no security interventions, no injuries, no fighting with others for a better spot, no jerks videotaping an entire set, etc. At that point, I recalled a moment from 2013 when waking up Saturday morning. A guy passed out on the sidewalk (from a few too many) was woken up by a fellow stranger putting a cold beer in his hands. What a way to wake up for a festival! It's amazing how a little common courtesy can go a long way.
In the end, great times with great company. Can't wait to see what they have next year for their 10th anniversary festival!
Ohhh and a side note. Our newest friend (and new comrade for Rockfest) was Jenn Marino of the Hiroshima Hearts (London, ON). Check em out if you get a chance, they rock!