Heavy T.O. 2012 – “My Name Is…”
They were all good bands. Some attendees of Heavy TO were there for one band or another. Not every band was to everyone’s liking and as such were easily forgettable by that person. There is one unshakeable fact about this year’s festival that no one could possibly avoid or forget.
It rained for most of the weekend and consequently Downsview Park was turned into a mud pit.
I bore witness to people losing their footwear, their balance, their footing, their dignity and, in some cases, their inhibitions. One poor fellow in the vicinity of the beer service lost the backing to a labret-style snakebite piercing in the mud. I lost a much-coveted skull and crossbones cameo when it was knocked from my hat. One gentleman actually lost the soles of his boots to the suction of the mud and abandoned them on the ground during the performance of Deftones.
There were a great deal of profanity, proclamations of disgust and careful balance dances going around the middle areas of the festival grounds. Whenever you thought you had a shallow area, you found yourself deceived and instantly were engulfed to the ankle. Every piece of ground that either provided shelter from the rain or terra firma was crowded. People who had much coveted beers (which were ridiculously expensive; I mean it was $4 for a damned pop, for fuck sake!) would occasionally lose them as they speed-wobbled to the mocking applause of those who watched.
The hill where the Jagermeister tent and beer service was became the location of some small mudslides. Not Woodstock-scale, but enough that many people would end up either surfing through the muck or doing the much-practised ”ass-plant” into said muck. A good many people had ended up slathered head to toe in mud, which inevitably leads to one thing.
I am sorry to report, however, that very little of it could be called “sexy”. Instead, it was just good, silly, messy fun. People throwing mud, tackling their fellow metalheads into the dirt. Some actual wrestling and all of it tasteful (silly and bizarre, but very few nipples were exposed to my knowledge).
Then came the adornment. I watched one fellow have a happy face drawn in mud on his bare chest , immediately before he tried stamping it on his friends with a hug. Inverted crosses were painted in mud here and there on chests and foreheads. My guest photographer, Ali, had the token war-paint lines drawn on her cheeks. Slogans were written in mud on shirts and skin alike. And then there were the ubiquitous muddy hand-prints on breasts and buttocks, enough that it stopped being cute and sexy pretty quick.
Mercifully, I got away fairly unscathed. My shirts that were worn both days got a little mud-spattered, the ends of my poor cargos and my shoes were completely caked and even my hat was not spared, but I managed to avoid the worst of it, as did Ali. Even so, I was pleased to watch the chaos around me and smile. Here’s why….
As a culture, metalheads are highly adaptable. We have the privilege of being able to enjoy our music and more easily listen to lighter fare than those whose musical tastes are sated all too easily on the likes of Rod Stewart and Celine Dion when they try to listen to heavier matter. Rather like a diner in an Indian restaurant who can handle a face-melting curry as though he was eating a piece of bread, metalheads are accustomed to extremes. We are used to adversity, being ostracised and judged with pseudo-impunity and in some cases, even persecuted. The beautiful thing is that the adversity does not daunt us, but instead empowers us and inadvertently defines us. In that respect, we are, each of us, Satan.
Here were a few thousand metalheads in one spot, one uncomfortable and horribly messy spot, and they were still able to turn it around and let it empower them. The rain became a cleansing; the mud splatters, badges of honour. Every trudging gait through the muck towards the next performance was less and less the defeated pace of the workers in Metropolis and more and more the marching of a Roman legion to war.
Nothing stops us. Never forget this, children.