Toronto is Doomed? Not anytime soon!

Last weekend, I was in Ottawa for the All That Is Heavy II doomfest, a six-band shindig featuring Blood Ceremony, Iron Man and Revelation, to name a few.  This was the second notable doom-metal festival in Canada over the past few years, after Montreal is Doomed in December 2010, which happened to be Pagan Altar’s North American debut.  (That was quite the nite for me, too!)  So, when are we gonna see one of these things in Toronto?  Don’t hold your breath…

If the Ottawa event was such a success, it’s because they don’t get doom metal gigs up there every day–or major metal gigs, regardless of sub-genre, for that matter.  It may be the nation’s capital, but they’re several hours from the U.S. border, meaning that unless a band is booking an extensive Canadian itinerary, it’s a little out of the way.  The vibe I got from the Ottawa metal scene is not unlike that when I was growing up in Calgary.  Back then, a major metal band coming to town was a rare enough occurrence that even if you weren’t the biggest fan of, say, Overkill, you’d go to their gig anyways cuz it was still a pretty big deal.

Of course, you can’t overlook the fact that All That Is Heavy had some major champions in the Bradshaws, hosts of the prime-time “Crossing Boredom” program on local college station CKCU.  Bringing doom to the masses at a reasonable hour (7-9 pm Thursdays) gave ’em plenty of opportunity to plug this gig–which was sponsored by the station in the first place.  Similarly, Montreal is Doomed was the brainchild of local DJ Annick Giroux, she of Hellbent for Cooking fame.  Of course, she also had an ace in the hole in Pagan Altar, who brought a buncha people in from outta town to see ’em.  I for one did not hear a whole lotta French spoken in Les Katacombes that evening…

Alas, I’m not sure Toronto has that dedicated doomster to plug the shit out of a gig like this.  Even before the CRTC took my baby away, Smokin’ Green aired initially from 12 to 2 and later from 1 to 3 in the morning, and I’d get a lot more callers asking me to play some reggae than the latest Black Pyramid tune.  Not to mention that the only club gig I ever DJ’ed was on 4/20.  Doom definitely isn’t music you can dance to, what can I say?  While I still try to spread the word through Hellbound, it’s not like putting my name on the poster would bring more out people to the gig.

Now, Toronto is a big enough city that we wouldn’t need too many outta-towners to make this gig successful, but it would take a major headliner to drum up any interest.  I know that there aren’t too many people in this town who’d lose their shit over Iron Man and Revelation–the ones that do wouldn’t fill a small room.  Considering that on any given weekend, Hogtown plays host to several big-name touring bands (we’re talking Meshuggah, Decapitated, Anvil, Destruction, Nasum, Vital Remains, Aborted, Warbringer and Baroness all between last Thursday and this coming Monday!), there’s going to be some stiff competition.  And since there aren’t any local doomsters with the deep pockets to fly Cathedral or Electric Wizard out here for a one-off, we’re talking probably either Saint Vitus or Pentagram.

Which brings up another issue: the border.  Word has it that Wino was roughly interrogated over a decades-old drunk driving charge when he came up here with Clutch a few years ago–and as for Bobby Liebling, fuhgeddaboudit!  When it comes to drugs, plenty of people have been denied entry for a lot less than what he’s done.  Ditto Mike IX Williams and Eyehategod.  The closest they’ll ever come to Canada is Upstate NY–in fact, I’ve seen both bands in Rochester…

So let’s say you do land Vitus.  Great!  I’d be all over that like a fat kid on a rainbow made out of Skittles.  These guys haven’t played Toronto (or anywhere in Canada, to my knowledge) since their most recent reunion, so this would probably be a pretty big draw.  Of course, you’re still gonna hafta bust yer balls spreading the word about it.  Remember, this is a one-off gig, so all the underground music and metal sites won’t be getting a press release from the band’s PR agency like they do when said band is on tour.  And if the folks in town don’t know what’s going down, well, they’re not gonna come out in droves, are they?

On that note, you’ll probably wanna get one or two big-name local bands to hedge your bets.  Sons of OTIS and Blood Ceremony would fit the bill, and you’ll probably need them both.  Hell, get Quest For Fire, too.  They’re not really doom, but close enough, and they do have a bit of a following.  After all, there aren’t any other bands in town who’ve been signed to Tee Pee Records.  And while the offer of opening for Saint Vitus might be enticing enough, it helps to have a personal relationship with these bands so you can call ’em up or even show up at their jamspace and talk them into it if need be.  You know that most of the money will be going to Wino and co, so you’ve gotta get that ironed out with the openers.

And hey, you can’t really call this thing a fest if there’s less than four bands on the bill, so if one of the aforementioned Big Three is a no-go, you’ll need to look elsewhere.  There are at least a couple up-and-coming stoner/doom bands around here with some pretty solid tunes, but these guys couldn’t pack the 460, much less the ElMo, on their own.  You’re probably gonna need a mid-level touring sludge/doom band, someone like Weedeater, Zoroaster or maybe The Gates of Slumber to be on the road at the time, and try to convince them to cross the border.  Of course, this is gonna cost ya even more…

Hey, I’m not about to do the math on this thing, but it certainly won’t be cheap.  Although I’ve laid out the blueprint (and we haven’t even gotten into venues, promotion, etc), I don’t expect anyone to see this through to completion–though you’re always welcome to prove me wrong. 😉



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Seahawks/Stamps/Flames/Zags/Jays/Raptors fan and lifelong metal head with a beer gut and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Reviewer/blogger (Yon Senior Doomsayer) for