Sunday, 17 August 2014

Live Report: BABYMETAL at Heavy Montréal - August 9, 2014



AUGUST 9, 2014

photo taken from

                                Facts First: Montréal ROCKS.
                                Seriously and straight up.

It’s a surprisingly old city for North America, and extremely old for Canada. Areas of Montréal go back to the 17th century. The people are both kind and amazing, and the same was true at the Heavy Montréal Festival. An enormous venue sporting four stages in total, Heavy Montréal should be experienced just for the festival itself. 

Montréal knows how to party, and in Jean Drapeau Parc August 9 & 10, 2014 the city partied hard. One of the images that remains tattooed onto my brain is that of a chaotic, if not perilous pit with a beer-tray-dude smack in the middle, tray held high over five hundred writhing bodies (conservative estimate), and beer-dude floating through magically and completely unscathed.

Photo: Sabrina Ramos
BABYMETAL have blown up considerably since the release of their self-titled album in February. Widely accepted by the metal community, and entirely by metal musicians, BABYMETAL nevertheless continues to generate controversy. It was for this reason everyone was waiting for the crowd reaction at Heavy Montréal.

The final show on the North American leg of a World Tour, having just completed five American dates with Lady Gaga’s artRAVE extravaganza and a one-man in Los Angeles, BABYMETAL took the stage on Day One of Heavy Montréal (Saturday, Aug 9) at 1:10 PM. They were the second act up on a bill that included the likes of Overkill, VoiVod, The Offspring, Anthrax, Apocalyptica and Metallica.

Photo: James C. Stewart
 The temperature was 28 C (34 C with the humidity, and only God knows how high with the added heat of 40000-odd people). It was stupid hot, and remaining near-the-front of the stage to hold our spot for a two hour wait was a feat in and of itself. But we were there early, anticipating the crush. Enough time in fact to party with the hardcore BABYMETAL fans at the front of the stage drinking beer and water and soaking up the vibe of it all, a vibe that can only be described as glee. I was having so much fun it wasn’t until I turned around that I noticed the 40,000 souls who’d crept up on me. I was now trapped where I stood, completely unable to move. Had I wanted to move, the only option was forward, over the waist-high fence and into the hands of Heavy Montréal’s skeleton-masked, firehose-toting security.

BABYMETAL’s performance was early, unfortunately daylight, but this was BABYMETAL in Canada and who the hell would’ve thought that was ever gonna happen? So from far and wide BABYMETAL fans came, the unfortunate and the dim-witted and the noobs stuck in a sea of people beyond the gates, beyond security.

Poor bastards.

BABYMETAL took the stage on time, opening with “BABYMETAL Death”. It was authentically scary at the front; the crowd was rabid, and pits formed randomly. A wave of heat and brush-strokes of panic swept me at one point, and to have fallen in this press of people would’ve been a bad, potentially dangerous scene. This was fandom run amok. The crush was unreal, surreal. But in a super-positive way—pure joy. Only BABYMETAL and their perfectly honed brand of Kawaii-metal could see a mosh pit of hardcore Quebec rockers throwing kitsune-signs during a song about Chocolate.

Photo: James C. Stewart
Su, Moa and Yui seemed caught off guard—sure there were some fanatics at the rainy Sonisphere in Britain. And yes, the Japanese shows are killer. But this is Heavy Montréal, kids. This is heavy metal brought to you by French-Canadian barbarians in Quebec. You could feel it before it started. The vibe. The hanging forever smell of marijuana. The beer trays carried by metal warriors in the sun-washed electronic afternoon.

Even with the minor technical difficulties and two poorly timed Walls of Death the set was high-test BABYMETAL. The Kami-band solo prior to “Catch Me If You Can” truly rocked with bassist and perennial favorite BOH mugging for the more-than-appreciative crowd.

Photo: James C. Stewart
Photo: James C. Stewart

photo taken from
By the end of “Catch Me If You Can” security had zapped the twisting horde with firehoses, the water immediately evaporating in the heat. At the BABYMETAL one-man in Los Angeles, Moametal over-heated, and had to be taken to the hospital for observation. While not hospitalized in Montréal, she clearly melted again. And it was easy to see why. Moametal rocked her little heart out, a true rock and roll soldier in bows and pigtails. Hybrid Japanese rock princesses of the 21st century, Montréal schooled Moa. How much can a kid take, right? Too much heat…too much love…

The YouTube videos sort of catch it, but having been there in the moment I can report the insanity was breathtaking, watching the guy next to you take a crowd-surfer’s boot to the face, smashed lip & grinning bloody teeth, “BABYMETAL, BABYMETAL, BABYMETAL…”

Photo: Sabrina Ramos

The set was cut short. Booked for 40 minutes, BABYMETAL gave Montréal 30 minutes and change. The short set has been widely attributed to Moa’s over-heating, though rumours abound of technical difficulties. Said tech difficulties were certainly real, but had been worked out by the time the act performed “Catch Me If You Can” & “Megitsune”, which lends credence to the melting Moa rumours. Nevertheless, why BABYMETAL management would not have added Headbangya!!” to a set list performed in front of 40 000 headbangers will remain a mystery.

Which bring us to the final number of the day—“Ijime, Dame, Zettai”. Online there has been much written and many fingers pointed at Canada (just scan some of the comments in the WOD videos) for blowing what could’ve been a most epic BABYMETAL Wall of Death by running too soon. It should be pointed out that while there were a ton of BABYMETAL fans at Heavy Montréal, they hardly made up the majority of the 40000 fans at the show. I would’ve thought it was obvious when they blew the Wall of Death these were new fans, unfamiliar with the strange customs of the band’s Metal Resistance.

Instead, what I saw was a vast number of metal heads (and a dude in a banana suit) showing their appreciation for the Princess of Metal and her kawaii consorts. Considering they didn’t know the act, let alone the song, I’d call it a helluva tribute. And while you’re considering that, consider this…there wasn’t one Wall of Death (WOD1), but rather two (WOD2). BABYMETAL, in an interview with TheGirlsonGames, has said Heavy Montréal was the biggest mosh pit they’d seen in their lives. I suppose that should count for something. After the performance, I approached a Japanese couple in full BABYMETAL garb to ask their opinion of the crowd, and of BABYMETAL’s first Canadian show. They simply looked at me wide-eyed and said, “Crazy!”

No surprises here. After all…
Montréal ROCKS.


2. Gimme Chocolate!!
- Kami-band solo -
3. Catch Me If You Can
4. Megitsune
5. Ijime, Dame, Zettai

BABYMETAL will continue their World Tour in November performing shows for London and New York.

Photo: James Stewart