Published Jun 01, 2018For most Ontario metalheads, the Toronto show on Slayer's final North American tour was a night to remember, but for Chris LaRocque the next couple days were something he'll likely never forget.
The 46-year-old went viral, receiving plenty of news coverage when Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian made an Instagram post showing LaRocque's effort to swim back into the Budweiser Stage after getting kicked out of the show. We called the Oshawa man on his girlfriend's phone — his was still drying out after joining him in Lake Ontario — to talk about what happened.
"I was a little inebriated, not like fall-down drunk or nothing, but I was feeling pretty good," LaRocque admits, though comments on social media posts from attendees suggest he was a fairly sauced. "I was just like headbanging and moshing around a little bit."
But that seemingly Slayer show-standard behaviour was enough to attract security, who gave him the boot during opening act Testament. "I was pretty bummed," LaRocque says.
After some failed negotiations to stay, he went outside and was texting concert mate Sean D'Nyke, who introduced our hero to Slayer and Anthrax back in the day and insisted he find a way back in. After responding that he could probably swim back in, LaRocque sat along the water down from the ticket gates and pondered.
The joke became reality and he lowered himself into the water, holding onto the cement wall. His final thought before committing was quite sober: "It's going to be cold. I was worried about getting my junk in the water and freezing."
Luckily for him it wasn't too bad, as LaRocque estimates he spent about 15 minutes swimming across, not due to lack of ability or drunkenness but a conscious decision.
"I wasn't going fast. I was just trying to be incognito — I had my camouflage hat on, so I thought that might help."
Unfortunately, it didn't, and there were medical personnel and security waiting for him by the Anthrax bus where he came ashore. Despite some pleading while he was warming up wrapped in a blanket — and a behind-the-scenes pardon attempt courtesy of Slayer (and Exodus) guitarist Gary Holt — LaRocque had to return home without having ever seen two of his favourite bands.
It wasn't the first sad moment of the day for the swimmer, as D'Nyke accidentally left one of the tickets he had bought his friend for his birthday in the Uber they took to the venue. There was a solution, however, when LaRocque exchanged $150 and the remaining 300-level ticket for a pair for the floor. It seems less likely he'd have gotten kicked out if he'd been stationary, though he opines there's a reason his friend didn't get the same treatment.
"He was headbanging one day to Slayer and just listening along on his radio and heard something go pop in his neck, and the doctor told him, 'Don't headbang anymore,' so he's got to really take care; he can't give 'er when he goes to the shows. That's probably why he didn't get kicked out and I did."
Though his friend saw the bands, LaRocque will go down in history for his actions. He says metalheads have been responding to his antics by calling them "so metal," which he'd never considered. For the headbanger, this was simply his one shot to get back in. Still, it makes sense that his reaction would be the metal one, as he's been a lifelong fan of the genre.
"I grew up in the '80s. I was one of the guys with the ghetto blaster on their shoulder walking down the street cranking Twisted Sister, you know, Maiden and stuff like that. I was a hair farmer for years, from maybe 15 years old. I didn't chop it off until 2009. I went back, finished high school and then I went to college, and before I went to college I chopped all my hair off. I've been a metalhead for most of my life."
And a metalhead he'll continue to be. Despite the tragedy of missing the bands, this story has a happy ending.
A stranger messaged LaRocque and said he was his hero, offering him a pair of tickets to the London date of the second leg of the tour. He'll have to be on his best behaviour there, though, as there isn't a watery way in at Budweiser Gardens, but our hero has some parting words of wisdom for those who find themselves at the site of the Toronto gig: "Maybe if you're going to a show at the Budweiser Stage, bring swim trunks."