Manitoba Metal Fest 2010: Part One

Special Hellbound.ca Post by Handshake Inc’s David Hall

Intro.

I think one of the best things about metal, and for me, especially underground metal, is that since its invention in 1969, the quality and quantity of the music has never really suffered. Sure you can get into arguments of sub-categories and bands losing their cred and way, but no matter what type of metal you like, there seems to be a never-ending amount of it. I can’t really think of a decade where metal has suffered. Disco, grunge, ska, punk, indie, alternative: these are all genres and styles of music that have burnt brightly but ultimately died off…metal however, and all its bastard categories, shows no sign of slowing down. Or maybe I’m just an optimist. Hell man, it’s 2010 and I just saw Brutal Truth destroy the world in Winnipeg, Manitoba…that seems proof enough to me.

I think it was about six or seven months ago that I saw “Brutal Truth to Play Manitoba Metal Fest,” come across the metal news ticker and I was immediately intrigued. I had never been to Winnipeg, but for some reason the thought of Brutal Truth playing there seemed epic and strange and film worthy: like “Iron Maiden: Behind the Iron Curtain,” or “Neil Young, Live at Massey Hall,” this concert struck me as an iconic event, and I immediately fired off an email to Rich Hoak, pleading with him to let me make a movie about the concert and about the band’s time in Winnipeg. Luckily he, and the rest of the band were into it.

So this blog or rambling story, or whatever you want to call it, like the movie we shot, is really about Brutal Truth, us the filmmakers and the people we encountered whilst in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Day One.

The Handshake Inc. crew comprised of Dave Cardoso (the other half of Handshake Inc who handles cinematography) and Maddie Rundle our producer.

We flew out of Hamilton on Thursday. Brutal Truth weren’t set to play until Saturday, but we wanted to familiarize ourselves with Winnipeg, and Rich Hoak, drummer of Brutal Truth, was coming into town on Friday to do a Peacemaker gig (more on that later).

We checked into the Osbourne Village Inn (a hotel attached to the venue where the fest was going down) around 6pm on Thursday. For anyone who’s been to London, Ontario, picture the Embassy Hotel and then maybe class it up by one notch. As Corey Thomas, the promoter of the Manitoba Metal Fest put in an early email correspondence, “it ain’t the ritz, but it’s not the worst place in the world either.” The hotel was a trip for real. Our room consisted of two double beds, a rickety bookshelf, a small tv, a puke-orange coloured bathroom, a small fridge and a microwave that bore a “rock the motherfucker” sticker. On the wall, directly above the headboard of both beds, were scuff-marks from a pair of black boots…like somebody got flipped over right quick for a little somethin’-something’.

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For about ten minutes we considered going to another hotel, but it just wouldn’t have felt right staying at some posh place, then leaving our ivory tower to swoop down and film. We wanted to be knee-deep – balls-deep – in the shit. We wanted to grind. Plus, there was a restaurant/cake shop across the street called “Baked Expectations,” and next to that a Sushi bar. Sometimes you have to read the signs. We unpacked our stuff, rolled up our sleeves and went across the street for some sushi and as much warm sake as we could drink.

Day Two.

Woke up around 10.00am Winnipeg time. The time difference is only two or three hours, but for some reason this kept seriously throwing me off. The clock on my phone was also an hour ahead of time, which added to the confusion and led to the only major problem of this production (more on that later). Seriously though, throughout the weekend I’d look at my phone and get random readings. Sometimes six p.m., sometimes ten a.m., sometimes four-thirty. It was messed up and sort of fantastic at the same time.

After a terrible hour-long walk up Pembina Ave in search of a store to buy some gear – this street was seriously like the most dirtiest, most depressing street in all of Winnipeg (“this walk is really affecting my mood” chirped Maddie at one point) – we cabbed it back to the Osbourne and had a fantastic meal at ‘Baked.’ They actually have a cake made all out of cookies and whipcream and stuff. Epic. Dave had the best grilled-cheese sandwich of his life.

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After lunch we met up with the promoter, Corey Thomas – amazing guy! So hospitable and friendly and welcoming – who drove us to the airport to pick up Richard Hoak. Waiting in the international arrivals lounge, cameras trained on the customs door where he’d be coming out through, a man wearing yellow jogging pants and Ugz caught my attention. “Damn, that guy looks like Henry Winkler,” I thought to myself…then a small but excited buzz started to run through the small crowd of people gathered around. “It’s The Fonz!” Dave came running up to me, pointing in Winkler’s direction. Dave filmed him a little bit, incognito, than ran after him as he made his way to the exit and got a pic.

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About ten minutes later, Rich emerged from customs. The first victory of the weekend. As you may or may not know, band folk traveling across borders is often chock-full o’ problems. “Fuck man,” Rich after preliminary greetings, “the customs dudes kept talking to me about Henry Winkler. Did you see him?” We showed Rich the pic Dave had snapped and headed out to the car.

I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with Rich, Dave and Maddie in our lovely hotel room. It was totally chill – just a group of friends talking about music and film and the industry and shows over beers and other consumables. Rich let us hear some of the new Total Fucking Destruction…amazing music. I just don’t get why more people aren’t into that band.

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Rich was set to do a Peacemaker show that night at a local record store called ‘War on Music.’ Around 7pm we headed over to this awesome dude named Pat’s place for a sweet-ass potluck, way more beer, and merriment. Sufficiently in full-on party mode we headed to War on Music for the gig a few hours later; I think we got there around 10pm.

War on music is a bare-bones place with concrete floors, some sweet old-school arcade games (sunset riders!) and an amazing vinyl, cassette and cd inventory. The first band that played was called Tu Suffres – a mince-core band with a great and charismatic singer named Rodriego. At this time of the night, things get a little fuzzy, and as is often the case, all normality went out the window.

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At the gig, I met a dude named Tim, who referred to himself (as did everyone else) as Timdian. He was of Sioux decent, and was probably the best tour-guide to Winnipeg I could of asked for. With tremendous pride, he took Dave and I on a walk down the street to a local institution called the Albert. It was a sick bar, actually, pretty full of folks supporting local music. Tim ordered two ‘standards’ for us – a local beer – and proceeded to lead us to the washroom. “Hey man, film that guy – film him. Wanna be in a movie.” We hung out in the men’s washroom for about twenty minutes, filming people empty their bladders and such. Tim seemed to know everyone who came in, and his introductions usually led to these new folks bringing us more beer. Tim also had something he called his “peacemaker.” It was an instrument of ill-intent no question, and Tim had found it in the alley behind his house. It was basically the shaft from a bicycle seat sawed off. At one point in the night we rigged that thing up like a bong for hilarious results.

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Having captured enough washroom footage, we headed back to War on Music, to catch the next band Head Hits Concrete

Head Hits Concrete, I was told, was a local grindy kind of band that had been around awhile but hadn’t played a show in nine years. The singer, Mike A., who also owned War On Music, is another super-nice guy. He also plays in a sick band called Putrescence (playing MDF this year) and he’s an amazing front man.

The band also features Craig Boychuck on bass – this is the dude who’s recorded most of Fuck The Facts’ recent discography, as well as tons of other amazing extreme Canadian music. There were probably about fifty or sixty people in the store, and when Head Hits Concrete went on, everyone watched in awe. A small but ferocious pit soon broke out in front of the band, and Dave grabbed his camera and jumped in too. The band were really fucking amazing. Sort of a cross between Canada Songs-era Daughters, Locust minus the synths and just straight-up grind. After a 15 minute set they left the crowd wanting more and tore down their gear.

While waiting for Peacemaker to hit the stage, a bunch of folks went outside for some fresh and not-so-fresh air. I was hanging around, minding my own business, when I saw a women walking towards me from about a block away with one full naked boob hanging out of her top. She turned into a parking lot where a bunch of Municipal Waste looking guys were crushing beers out the back of a Chevette blaring DRI. One thing I can say is metal is alive and well in Winnipeg.

I knew from checking the myspace page that Peacemaker was a one-man show consisting of Rich Hoak doing some noise/spoken word/verbal assault but really had no idea what I was in for. Dressed in a map-of-the-world jacket, ball cap and donning a light-stick around his neck, Rich instructed that all the lights be left on, and hit play on his accompaniment CD. It was evident after the first few seconds of Peacemaker’s performance that the act was meant to snare, provoke, anger and above all, challenge, and the crowd who had gathered – gathered for the drummer of Brutal Truth, not a Lenny Bruce inspired mind fuck – for the most part did not get it. Friends exchanged confused and WTF looks. People shifted uncomfortably back and forth on their feet. There was the odd laugh and snicker, but for the most part, everyone just stared in riveted disbelief or awkwardness. Rich is a master showman and his act left the War on Music crowd dismayed, curious and uncomfortable: in other words he totally succeeded. If you ever have a chance to watch Peacemaker perform, do yourself a favor and get to the gig.

With the show over for the night, some after-hours craziness and debauchery ensued. I think we finally rolled out of War on Music around 2.30 am and headed back to the Osbourne Inn. More drinks and talk deep into the night and early morning. The sun was coming up when I heard Rich mumble “It’s six a.m. I gotta crash.” It was a phenomenal night and day.

Come back on Friday to read the second part of David Hall’s MMF 2010 recap.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.