Montebello Rockfest 2017

Written By: Mark McGauley

One of Canada’s biggest music festivals, Montebello Rockfest, once again gave fans an unforgettable weekend. Over the course of 3 days, people from all over the globe gathered in the small town of Montebello to see some of the biggest names in the music industry. The festival was the host of bands such as Rammstein, Queens of the Stone Age, The Offspring and Iggy Pop.


Montebello Rockfest, which used to go by Amnesia Rockfest, officially kicked off Thursday afternoon. The opening day was host to nothing but bands from Canada. Even though the bands may not be popular worldwide, that didn’t stop the crazy fans of this year’s Rockfest. Thursday also served as a day for travelers to get into town and set up their camping sites. There’s definitely something unique and special about Montebello Rockfest. Instead of having 1 or 2 dedicated camping sites and a list of hotels to choose from, Montebello gets taken over by Rockfest guests. On the side of every street there’s cars parked for miles, which serve as people’s camp spots for the weekend. The residents of the small town rent out their lawns for people to camp on as well.


Walking into the festival grounds on Friday, the first thing everyone would see was mud. Mother nature didn’t want to cooperate and filled the fields of Rockfest with giant mud pits everywhere. The mud didn’t stop anyone though, it just seemed to add to the fun of the weekend. Friday’s lineup was definitely stacked with some of heavy metal’s best. Bands like Soulfly, All That Remains and Kataklysm took stage early in the day. Rockfest just wasn’t filled with metal bands, there were plenty of other genres for fans to enjoy. For instance, Pennywise, had a slot on the Budweiser stage and put on one of the best performances over the weekend. Another highlight of the day came from one of the smallest stages labeled the Tony Sly 1 Stage and that was the band Goldfinger. The crowd at stage was absolutely massive and in return Goldfinger gave Rockfest everything they had.


The biggest question of Friday was how well Wu-Tang Clan would be accepted as they played the Budweiser main stage. It didn’t take long to realize that the crowd didn’t care they were a rap group. Everyone participated in throwing up the Wu-Tang hand signs and rapping along with the group. After Wu-Tang, AFI took over the main stage and drew a massive crowd. Lead singer, Davey Havok, was outstanding. The entire set, Havok was jumping all over the stage embracing the rain that had started.


The Jagermeister stage was host of the biggest Tiki Party of the weekend. Killswitch Engage came out ready to party and rock out in their floral shirts and board shorts. The band had 2 mini bars set up on stage ready to serve drinks at any moment in time. There’s definitely something special about Killswitch Engage’s live shows. They amount of fun the guys have on stage radiates into the crowd and makes everyone have a good time. The Jagermeister stage was closed out by Parkway Drive and Bullet For My Valentine. Both bands drew monster crowds and were definitely fan favorites. Even with half of the stage’s field concerted into a giant muddy swimming pool, fans weren’t deterred.


Friday was closed out by The Offspring and Rammstein. The Offspring did something special by playing their album, Ixnay on the Hombre, in its entirety. Some of the songs on that album haven’t seen the stage since 1997 and “Leave It Behind” for the first time ever. On top of Ixnay, the group played a 5 song encore which featured songs such as “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” and more. The set was closed with “Self Esteem,” and everyone at Rockfest was singing with The Offspring. The band seemed to truly enjoy being back in Montebello and received a great response from the crowd.


The evening was closed with one of the biggest metal bands in the world, Rammstein. There’s really no way to describe how incredible their show was. After 17 songs, the best word to use would be speechless. The stage show started with some band members being lifted down from the top of the stage standing on their light rigs. Every song featured some sort of pyro, which included fireworks, fire blasts shooting across the stage, guitars with flame throwers, vests with firecrackers and more. It’s easy to say that Rockfest will never see a headliner like Rammstein again. Friday night was one for the record books.


Saturday, the final day of Rockfest, was once again a giant mix of genres. Both August Burns Red and P.O.D. put on awesome sets early in the day. The Eagles of Death Metal took the main stage with a huge ovation from the crowd. As expected, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, joined EODM on stage for their final song “Speaking in Tongues.” Unfortunately, that was the only song Rockfest got to see with Josh on stage with them and they now had to wait the rest of the day for him to return on stage with QOTSA.


After last year’s controversy with Twisted Sister and their disliking to their treatment at Rockfest, it was a surprise to see lead singer Dee Snider return. With his solo band, Dee took the stage to give it everything he had. Once again on the Jager stage, Dee gave the crowd the hits they wanted to hear along with an outstanding cover of “Outshined,” by Soundgarden. Dee was by far the most interactive with the crowd out of all the groups at Rockfest this year. He had plenty to say on stage between his songs and got an awesome response from the audience. Hopefully if Dee ever comes back they’ll finally give him a main stage slot like he deserves.


Thrash legends Megadeth were also present at Rockfest on Saturday. Just prior to taking the stage, a blue sky turned black and the rain came in. The rain didn’t stop Dave Mustaine and the rest of the band from playing. The short 9 song set didn’t seem like it was enough for Megadeth who also seemed to end a tad early. Perhaps they spared themselves time due to going over their time limit last time at Rockfest. The highlight of Megadeth’s set was hearing “Mechanix,” off their debut album, Killing Is My Business…and Business Is Good!, which doesn’t make the setlist often.


The last few bands at the Jagermeister stage on Saturday were also another highlight. Both 311 and At The Drive-In had some of the best shows at Rockfest this year. When 311 took the stage the rain was stopped and band played with the sun setting right in their faces. The upbeat punk/reggae style of 311 was another questionable fit for the festival but turned out to be an absolute blast. At The Drive-In had the job of playing right before Queens of the Stone Age took the main stage and had to prove themselves. Lead singer Cedric Bixler made sure the crowd got what they came for. This guy didn’t stand still for one second. Bixler would make his way on top of drummer Tony Hajjar’s bass drum and leap high in the air. This crazy amount of energy is what led At The Drive-In to have one of the best sets of the entire festival.


The final main stage band of Montebello Rockfest 2017 was none other than Queens of the Stone Age. Having just announced a massive tour along with a new album coming out in a few months, Josh Homme and the rest of the band came out ready to show they haven’t lost their touch. Opening with “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” and “No One Knows,” the band was off to a quick start and had the audience’s attention captured. Certainly a different vibe vs. Friday night’s Rammstein, but not a bad thing. Two completely different headliners certainly made for an interesting comparison in the type of crowd that stuck around. Queens of the Stone Age stayed in the shadows of a fairly dark stage most of the night. The band didn’t have the stage show that other bands had but they were there to play and not mess around. Montebello got to here their new single “The Way You Used To Do” live, one of the few cities to hear it so far. The set ended with two tracks from Songs for the Deaf, “Go With The Flow,” and “A Song for the Dead.” The Rockfest crowd were definitely familiar with the closing tracks and gave the band a loud ovation. The band left the stage after a bow and it seemed like there would be another song or two for an encore but the band never returned to the stage.


After QOTSA, the crowd made its way to the Jagermeister stage for one last time in 2017. This time it was for the legendary Iggy Pop. Iggy, who is now 70 years old, took the stage early and came out with more energy than some of the bands half his age. Iggy made his way down the steps at the front of the stage to get into the crowd and get up close and personal. This was another example of a legendary artist being on a small stage instead of the big main stage.  Small stage or not, Iggy was there to perform and did just that. Many of the other artists of the day came over to the stage to watch Iggy, giving respect to the rocker to whom they’ve probably looked up to throughout their careers.

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