Ah Montebello in June… the sun is out, birds are singing, and the ground is vibrating as Rockfest takes over the tiny town.
Thousands of rock, metal, and hardcore fans find their way into the beautiful riverside community of Montebello Quebec, halfway between Montreal and Ottawa. The roads are busy, hundreds of tents set up wherever there is grassy space, and vendors line the main road leading to the festival. This year’s festival had a scheduling change, putting anticipated headliners on all three nights of the festival. The rain on Wednesday and Thursday didn’t stop any of the eager fans from coming out for headliners like Five Finger Death Punch, and A Day to Remember, though it did make for some muddy mosh pits. The fields were quickly torn up by large circle pits filling the crowd.
Friday came with sun and warmth, which attempted to dry up some of the previous day’s rain, but not much. I was the most excited for the Friday line up. A lot of bands that I kept missing, or haven’t had the chance to see yet. Everytime I Die kicked off the Friday for me with their wicked jumps and hair flips. Dropkick Murphys, along with Flogging Molly, brought their Celtic punk to Canada, and mixed their heavier sounds with traditional Irish music.
It was hard to choose who I was looking forward to shooting most, there are a lot of bands that play in a very short amount of time, but Dimmu Borgir was up there. After five years of not touring, the Norwegian metal band broke their hiatus with their Rockfest set. The crowd was waiting anxiously for the set, and it was clear they were a much-anticipated act of the weekend. Godsmack followed with fire and fireworks throughout their set, and finally the headliners of the evening with Prophets of Rage. I never thought I’d be standing in the middle of a crowd listening to Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of,” but holy. The band consists of the original members of RATM minus Zack de la Rocha, and includes two members of Public Enemy, and rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill. The crowd was crazy, everyone knew every word.
Saturday came too quickly. Late nights and early mornings were starting to drag, the energy on site, though still high was noticeably tired leading into the daytime sets including All Time Low, The Used, and Jimmy Eat World. That didn’t stop the moshing and the crowd surfing. Considering it was the last day, I was expecting a little less energy from the crowd, but I was proven very, very wrong. Lamb of God took the stage and the place erupted. The energy from the band onstage infected the crowds pulling the energy way back up to day one levels. Just in time too… Tenacious D was up next. Yes folks, the School of Rock himself, Jack Black. The set was hilarious, and wonderful, and did I mention hilarious? The final headliner of the weekend was California’s Weezer, bringing classics like “Beverly Hills,” and their recent hit, of remaking Toto’s Africa. A nice sing-a-long set to end a long exhausting weekend.