Montreal est incroyable! I spent the weekend in Montreal with a co-worker. We took VIA up Friday afternoon. The train was pretty uncomfortable. The seating was new and not very worked in… Ugh. We stayed downtown at the Four Points Sheraton… it was decent. My impression of Montreal was very favourable. It has a much more personable and down to earth feel to it than Toronto. Even the downtown has much more older buildings with mature architecture. Montreal also has bike lanes that run right through the downtown core and they are well used. I saw cyclists all over the city at all hours of the day and night. It was neat to see. In general Habsville seemed less claustrophobic to me than Toronto. (I think it must be compulsory for all businesses to have a Habs flag in their window. Nearly every business downtown was flying the Habs colours) I was most happy however, with the friendliness and willingness of the locals to speak English. In every place I went they willingly spoke English to me, unlike how I was treated in Quebec City some years ago.
The first night we wandered around downtown a bit and settled on a small Lebanese place (sorry don’t recall the name, but it was a block or two from the hotel) and the food was great. After dinner we met up with a former mutual co-worker Otown who we met at Mont Blanc and Park. We looked for a pub… Whoa.. at 7PM every pub we went to was packed! The third pub we went in finally had some seating. We ended up staying there the whole night… and it was a fun time. We drank a lot of beer… I think Otown and I shared the better part of 5 pitchers, granted it was over several hours, but it was the most beer I’ve had in ages. We did a lot of reminiscing and talked about work and projects and Otown’s school. It was great to see him.
Saturday we met up with one of Raj’s longtime friends Karish. He was a nice guy and knew Montreal fairly well so we followed his lead for dinner. We ended up at a Mexican place in the towntown ‘square’. The food and ambiance was pretty amazing.
After dinner we cabbed it to Metroplis which turned out to be a very impressive venue. Onto the rock… we were a little late arriving partway into Hemlock‘s set. They were decent and seemed happy to pay for ‘food’ and ‘gas’ money. I was looking forward to seeing the band that followed, Meshuggah. They didn’t disappoint, well, mostly not. They are a very challenging, if not difficult band to listen to. They have strange time changes throughout all their songs. Just as you start getting into the grove of one of their songs the timing would change. This happens over and over. It is a little frustrating since many of the groves are awesome and I love to enjoy them longer. The crowd consisted of the typical metal/ industrial assortment of delinquents and freakish rabble. I especially want to thank the couple in front of us who dances like idiots when no one else was, especially the girlfriend. These two clowns would have been better off in a room alone in bondage gear. Gah. The show had the typical mosh pit and body surfing. A special devil rock on flash to the blue haired punk rock girl who was body surfing all night long. I saw her limping down the stairs to the coat check area at the end of the show. Just another day at a rock show.
The headliners, Ministry, brought the rock big time. I knew it was going to be good when they started putting fencing up around the front of the stage before the band took the stage. Grandpa Al was pretty low key however, allowing the industrial ear assault do the talking. The tunes were intense especially when combined with the huge video screen showing odd saturated and desaturated video clips and frantic lighting. Ministry played a ton of new stuff and ended the night with two sets of encores. The first set was So What, Thieves and Stigmata… the crowd loved it. At the end of that set, black and white balloons dropped on the crowd which resulted in the death of hundreds of balloons. The final set was an unexpected series of cover songs. Ministry covered songs from the Doors, ZZ Top and the Rolling Stones, yes you read them right. Vocals from ex-Fear Factory lead singer created a ton of energy as Grampa Al played guitar. Overall a solid, loud night of music. It was odd being in Montreal a night they were eliminated from the playoffs. There was a strong police presence and we passed a ton of depressed Habs fans as we walked home from the show.
Sunday took forever to home as I arrived at Union too late to catch the final train out. Bah. So I ended up getting home around 10… and now I’m exhausted. Good night!