Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
A packed crowd at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre awaited the return of Slipknot, who brought a galvanizing and barn burning show. Billed as Knotfest, Slipknot hit the road with an eclectic bill of metal stalwarts--Volbeat from Denmark, the technical prowess and might of Gojira hailing from France, and the brutal extreme metal from Polish metal band Behemoth.
Think about this for a moment, four bands that are equally important in their genres of metal, appearing together for a festival of the ages. All trailblazers, all deserving to be headliners, which says a lot about the boys in Slipknot, who are uncompromising in their production and aren’t afraid of showcasing such great supporting acts.
Bottom line, Slipknot still delivers. It’s only fitting that Knotfest in Tinley Park coincided with their sixth studio album release We Are Not Your Kind. Slipknot’s first album since the firing of longtime member Chris Fehn. Regarding Fehn’s termination, Slipknot have made it clear they'd rather not talk on the issue and move on.
Only two songs from their new album made the cut for their setlist. "Unsainted," a blistering and unrelenting song worthy of stature in the band’s canon, and "Solway Firth," which made its live debut at Tinley Park. The set started off hard and heavy, with a foot stomp statement of "People = Shit," then into "(sic)," followed by "Get This."
The beginning of Slipknot’s set was the definition of intensity, and we haven't even started with the vertical pyrotechnics. The three- tiered stage set up was perfect for the members of Slipknot, since there's so many of them, to equally lay waste to a normal rock n' roll show, having audience members’ eyes ping-ponging from one musician to another, watching the uncontrolled antics of Slipknot acting like gremlins to the tenth degree.
I say this with positivity and genuine appreciation.
A lot of thought has gone into this stage design, courtesy of founding member Shawn Crahan, otherwise known as "Clown" aka #6. Clown has his hands in everything Slipknot, from stage production, music videos, and songwriting. There were giant panelled video walls, air vent windmills below Jay Weinberg's drum kit, and a small treadmill below Sid Wilson's mixing table. Wilson’s mixing table set up added to the chaos by having an elevated percussion kits 20 feet up. Sid Wilson cemented his place in music as a genuine and unpredictable performer.
Of course, ringleader Corey Taylor was lively as all get out. From heavy and gnarly vocals to his costume and new mask, Taylor was as wicked as wicked comes. You can't keep your eyes off him.
An A+ show from Slipknot. These metal legends brought a setlist that was unrelenting from beginning to end in all things heavy. Being Midwesterns themselves, Slipknot’s from Des Moines Iowa, they made it known time and time again how important Chicago and the Midwest region has been to the band’s success over the years.
Each act of this Knotfest roadshow brought something different, something unique, something fresh.
Even with the sun shining brightly, openers Behemoth did not disappoint. With Nergal front and center, with his nasty, trademark corpse paint and unique headpieces on full display, was surrounded by a band that knows the definition of uncompromising punishment.
Same holds true for Gojira and Joe Duplantier, with patrons in the main GA pit in the center of the main floor thrashing about in unison to the band's plentiful set of heavy on top of heavy songs. Furious in approach and furious in might, Gojira have continued to develop into an inspired live act with lots and lots of touring in the states, and a polished set of songs that leave you drained and your ears buzzing for days on end.
After the two downright heavy openers, we were entertained by Copenhagen, Denmark's Volbeat. Led by frontman Michael Poulson, who was jovial and energetic, looked like a rockabilly rocker who's fixated on early Elvis, but has a passion for dark speed metal. Lots of wah wah riffing heavy guitars throughout, with a snippet from Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" before tearing into "Sad Man's Tongue," with over the top heavy guitar playing from Rob Caggiano, who is super underrated in guitar playing. A high energy performance from these dudes, before headliner's Slipknot took the stage.
A remarkable show from four awesome bands, and no loose ends in the line up.
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