Calgary Metalfest V - A Historic Night!

Western Canada welcomed the return of Calgary Metalfest this September. Thrashtastic!

Something special happened in Calgary this September.... 

Calgary Metalfest resurfaced for the fifth year running, and brought the metal community an amazing four nights of entertainment at four different venues across the city. Calgary thrashers converged onto the downtown core to bear witness to some of Canada's most iconic thrash bands, and I couldn't be more stoked to get involved in the madness.

When I arrived at Flames Central for the Saturday night show, the first thing I noticed was the sign declaring Calgary Metalfest's final and biggest night was open for business. Something about seeing that big red sign up in lights put a smile on my face and got me really excited. The second thing was that Calgary's typically corporate Stephen Avenue was filled with battlevests, leather jackets, and black jeans, a beautiful sight in contrast to the typical downtown corporate suits.

With Razor, Sacrifice, Exciter and Annihilator on the bill, it was hard not to be swept up in the excitement of the night. As an Australian, I felt like I was a part of a really special moment for the Calgary scene. Dubbed "An historic night of Canadian metal", it was clear that this night was important for our local metal community. I arrive as Razor is playing, and even though the night is still young, the pit was filled with eager metalheads getting their aural fix. Razor, hailing from Guelph, Ontario, are fast and intense, and provide a perfect warm up for the rest of the evening. 

Next up is the legendary Sacrifice, from Toronto, and lead singer Rob Urbinati gets the crowd revved up, telling us all how he really feels about watching Exciter's John Ricci play after them: "I can't believe how awesome it feels to be playing tonight at this great show!" Rob exclaims as the band launches into "Reanimation", an obvious crowd favourite. The windmills start with the first riff, and all the big grins in the pit show that Sacrifice are still a band close to their hearts.

Big Nate hosts the CMF charity auction in between band sets. He aims to raise 10k for the Southern Alberta Make-a-Wish Foundation. Included in the booty for this round is one of many special guitars, a CMF aluminium sign that's been autographed by the entire festival line up, and $5,000 worth of recording studio time. The sign goes for $700 to the lucky winner and someone else walks off with the studio time for a mere $1,500 - what a deal! 

Exciter, from Ottawa, take the stage and holy fuck do they light it up! Vocalist and drummer Dan Beehler is a ball of energy as he revs up the crowd. Their set is fast paced and well known; it's as if everyone in the mosh pit is singing along word for word. You can see the band are really happy to be back on stage; John Ricci and Allan James Johnson are explosive, and put on what I think is the set of the night. Beehler says a few times how stoked they are to play in Canada for a change. The crowd echoes that sentiment. "Long Live the Loud" is the last song on their list and everyone in the pit goes crazy. Exciter really brought their all to give us an epic performance.

At the next round of the auction I see more metalheads cough up their cash, as three winners make off with a guitar, a 4x6 foot poster for the night, and a Tenacious D photo during the third round of Big Nate's auction. About $1,200 is raised, for a grand total of $7,100, for the Southern Alberta Make-a-Wish Foundation!

Annihilator, also from Ottawa, hits the stage and the crowd is so ready to welcome them to the night. Their set is incredible and you can see by the smiles from people everywhere in the venue that they have had an awesome evening. I pop up to the merch stand to try and grab myself a tshirt, and they were completely sold out! For some reason this made me really proud of what Calgary Metalfest and its team has achieved.

CMF for me was a beautiful combination of all the things I love about Calgary; an amazing metal event where everyone could enjoy themselves in a friendly and safe environment, a community coming together to help those in need, and some of Canada's best bands who we could all headbang along with.  

As John Ricci said in our recent Q&A, Calgary absolutely is a heavy metal town. On the final night of CMF, I was able to watch some incredible Canadian metal bands perform in my city, while also being among fellow metalheads enjoying every second of the experience. Once again I found myself so proud to be a metalhead, and equally as proud to be a Calgarian.

Congratulations to Big Nate Productions, and all involved who made CMF 2016 an amazing success!  

Till next year...