Slipknot’s ‘Knotfest Roadshow’ Deserves to Be ‘Your Kind’
It all seemed fitting -- arguably the hottest tour of the year, featuring a band who sweat for their art behind masks and jumpsuits touching down in the desert outskirts of San Bernardino as temps soared over 100 for the second date of Slipknot's 2019 Knotfest Roadshow.
Slipknot have risen to the top of the ranks not only for their frenetic live show, but also for their ability to continually introduce fans to some of the best acts in the genre. That continues this summer with the Knotfest Roadshow, featuring an eclectic bill that includes the good time rock of Volbeat, the technical prowess and intensity of Gojira and the brutal extreme metal theatrics of Behemoth.
Nocturnal rockers Behemoth opened the day in the scorching California sun, playing primarily to a still-arriving crowd. But these metal giants more than held their own under less than ideal conditions. If fans were unaware of what was coming, the band's backdrop of a U.S. map featuring upside down crosses offered a hint. The show opened with the group arriving to the stage amidst child-choir chants. Drummer Inferno was the first to take the stage, raising his arms to the sky before settling into pure double kick glory on the opening “Wolves ov Siberia.”
The fist-pump, dual-guitar rocking ”Daimanos,” the fiery, pit-starting performance of “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” and Satan-motivated guitar work of the set closing “Chant for Eschaton 2000” helped set a blistering tone for the day. While a little of the mystique of Behemoth is lost in the daylight, there’s no denying the power with which they opened the show, delivering a truly pummeling set and engaging the crowd. Frontman Nergal left ‘em wanting more, appreciatively telling the audience, “We shall return. Until then, stay strong.”
After a quick change over, it was time for Gojira to take the stage. It didn’t take long for the audience to warm to the French outfit, as they started the show with the impressively nimble fretwork of Joe Duplantier and Christian Andreu on “Oroborus.” By the time, they hit the second song “Backbone,” the pits in front of the stage were fully formed and only grew more plentiful as the set continued. The first crowd surfers of the day were spotted and inflatable “flying whales” started to be tossed around the audience as the band performed the heavy rocker “Flying Whales.”
Gojira went a little longer than their opening night set, working in the tracks “Love” and the set closing “Vacuity” to their performance. The latter provided a furious finish, complete with synched up headbanging. Much praise came from Joe Duplantier at the end of the set for the sea of circle pits all around the venue he spotted from the stage. It was an intense performance that left the crowd buzzing afterward.
After the two brutally heavy openers, Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen joked with the crowd that they were there to bring the “beautiful” for the evening. They did, in fact, keep the spirit of their show fun, mixing their early rock era and county influences with their own brand of metal. “Devil’s Bleeding Crown” got their set off on the right foot, and the “hey hey” crowd participation of “Lola Montez" ensured that the audience was engaged.
Poulsen really pulled in the audience, offering a bit of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” before segueing into Rob Caggiano’s wah-riffing guitars on “Sad Man’s Tongue.” Inspiring future generations, a couple of small children were spotted on their fathers’ shoulders in the crowd gleefully rocking the “horns” throughout the high energy performance.
Volbeat also worked some new material into their sets, with “Leviathan,” a song Poulsen said was about “love and Satan,” getting some solid response from the crowd. “Last Day Under the Sun” also got a set nod, fitting perfectly with the heat of the day. Other highlights included the Slayer-influenced “Slaytan,” the fan-favorite “A Warrior’s Call” and the chaotic finish of ‘Still Counting.”
Finally, it was the moment that many a Slipknot maggot had been waiting for. The unveiling of Slipknot’s new look production was upon us, and they continue to up their game with what they bring to the stage. The new three-tiered set-up is a visual feast for the eyes, while Slipknot more than take care of the audio senses as well. Paneled-video walls, air vent windmills below Jay Weinberg’s drum kit and a moving treadmill that made Sid Wilson’s stage moves something reminiscent of Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay but even sicker, were all put to great use throughout the night.
Each song came with its own mood-lighting, whether it be the red-hued brutality of the opener “People = Shit,” a more calming blue for “(sic)” and later a fired up night sky for “The Devil in I.” Things did get a little testy early on, with Corey Taylor refusing to start the third song of the night, calling out members of the crowd to “back up” and stating, “Nobody’s getting hit on my watch." After the audience complied, the band continued the show with one of the night’s highlights, “Get This.” At different points during the song, a majority of the members made their way to the front of the stage for the first time, a few of them grabbing mics to handle additional vocals to go along with Corey Taylor.
As for the new material, the audience lost their mind over “Unsainted,” which comes across even better live than on record. The late set arrival of “All Out Life” also went over well, complete with onstage explosions and chants of “We Are Not Your Kind” serving as the night’s anti-establishment anthem.
The pyro-aided “Before I Forget,” the always high energy “Heretic Anthem” and Corey Taylor seemingly leaving it all onstage during his performance of “Sulfer” raised the level of the body of the set before finishing that portion of the night with “Duality.” The latter song found percussionist Clown coming down from his perch with a lit torch that he used to pound away on a steel drum dangling from above.
Completing the evening, the band returned for an encore of “Spit It Out,” which saw the most visibly chaotic response from the crowd of the night and one of Taylor's signature "Get the fuck up" moments. Ending on a high note, Slipknot closed with the powerful crowd favorite “Surfacing.”
If the Knotfest Roadshow is coming to a town near you, this is one you don’t want to miss. “It represents what heavy metal is all about,” stated Corey Taylor during the band’s set, adding that each act on the bill brings something different and diverse from the world of metal. “So much diversity, so many flavors, but one goal” is how Behemoth’s Nergal described it earlier in the evening. All four bands could have headlined their own shows, but getting them all in one glorious night makes it the concert deal of the summer.
Head below to check out our photos from Saturday’s (July 27) performance at San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Amphitheater.
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