Although a lot of festival goers seemed pretty hungover as Day 2 of Rockfest began, people slowly crawled out of their tents for a second day of muddy festivities.
Saturday kicked off beautifully for me with Irish punk band Flogging Molly. Dave King (vocals) really looked stereotypically Irish with his ginger beard and plaid shirt. Flogging Molly probably set the best atmosphere during the whole festival – with the booze flowing merrily and drunks ecstatically staggering around, one felt a great sense of friendship and community with the other audience members. The mosh-pits were literally the friendliest pits in the universe, while people cheerfully stomped around, waving pirate flags and Irish flags and spreading dust all about.
Gogol Bordello was another legendary one, with the uniquely raw lead vocalist accompanied by several female singers and a reggae master. As he went through wine bottle after wine bottle, Eugene Hutz let his slavic drawl carry him through a whole lively repertoire, from Wanderlust King to Start Wearing Purple. The gypsy punk music was perfect for merry dance moves and the “vintage” instruments including an accordion, a fiddle and a harmonica really plunged listeners into a folky Bohemia. Towards the end of the set, to the dramatic words of “it never hurts to be the professor of Russian rock’n’roll”, Hutz dramatically smashed his guitar on stage.
Subsequently, the crowd waiting to see Rancid expanded exponentially as Snoop Dogg followed the legendary punk band. Besides hearing distant “yo”s from the campsite, I do remember Uncle Snoop’s last words going along the intellectual lines of “smoke weed motherfuckaaaaaaaas”. Next, the Planet Smashers (local band, woot woot) were really fun with their live rendition Super Orgy Porno Party. And I was quite impressed when the lead singer of Refused, Dennis Lyxzen, took on an incredibly feminist stance with his last words: “I would like to say just one thing before we go. There are 370 musicians playing this festival this year. I counted. And only 16 women. That is little more than 4%. Us punks, we talk a lot about gender equality. So let’s make this sausage fest gain women, with at least 25% female artists next year!”
The glorious charm of Lyxzen’s words quickly wore off when Rob Zombie got onto the main stage and yelled with great masculinity: “Where all the women? Come on, I want them all up in the air!” Subsequently, many classy ladies, empowered by being regarded as sex objects, proudly flashed their breasts to the stage as I got to witness some of the most manly and disrespectful mosh-pits of my life (indeed, these “cock pits” were just an immature way for some testosterone-fuelled bros to challenge each other’s masculinity). However, Zombie was quite impressive, sporting 60s elephant pants with hobo dreads. And despite his overall scarecrow-meets-zombie look, Rob Zombie sure knows how to move, to say the least.
The most aggressive part of the festival was when Slayer cut off Groovy Ardvaark and Tenacious D (both playing on the secondary Loto Québec and Jagger stages) by blasting their music deafeningly from the main stage. They did not even have the respect to let the other two bands finish their sets. And naturally, Slayer did not apologize. I guess these guys have some sort of superiority complex. It was sad to see the dancers elaborately playing with fire on Groovy Ardvaark’s stage get so brutally cut off. I guess Slayer must be the most punctual out of the Big Four [Thrash Metal Bands].
Next, Pixies looked completely zoned out as they played some of their best songs including Velouria, Holiday and I’ve Been Tired… The lighting of their set was very skillfully done and beautifully enhanced by a wall of strange giant magnifying glasses. Of course, when they ended their set to Where Is My Mind (theme from Fight Club), I was half-expecting some jacked bros to throw their shirts off and start obnoxiously booming “FIGHT CLUB”. Surprisingly (and luckily), this did not occur. However, I was quite sad that they did not play my favorite song of theirs: Hey.
Finally, the festival concluded with an intensity that only System of a Down could fuel. Although the crowd was too tight to even breath in, the actual band put on an amazing show. Serj Tankian is simply a vocal God – I mean, he does have classical training, after all. And Daron Malakian’s voice complements Serj’s exceptionally well. System sounded exactly, or even better, than they do in their recordings. There were so many incredibly vocal fluctuations on Serj’s part… And the energy invested by the whole band was incredibly contagious. Naturally, as the main headliners, they ended way later than indicated on the schedule. As they dramatically ended upon Sugar, one got a strange sense of catharsis and melancholia – the festival was at an end.
Overall, Amnesia Rockfest 2015 was a musically unforgettable experience. The rustic lack of physical comfort at the campsites may lack appeal to some (as it honestly did with me), but that is just part of the adventure of it all, isn’t it?
Top five shows of this year’s festival:
(1) Gogol Bordello
(2) Skinny Puppy
(4) System of a Down
(5) Flogging Molly
I would like to thank those five bands, and all of the others, for such a crazy auditory experience.
Amnesia Festival took place on June 18-21 in Montebello.