The wristband for the pit at Knotfest says 'Enter At Your Own Risk', just so you know what to expect, and security will even wish you good luck on your way in, although the chances are high that if you're in the pit then you already know what to expect. Shirt, the soundman, plays some early Killing Joke through the PA as the anticipation builds into chants of “Slipknot”, while, way up at the back, on top of the hill, there are flame-throwers bursting fire into the night sky. Expect madness.
Tonight, however, is the first night of Slipknot’s own Knotfest, and not only the first show to feature nine masked faces on stage, since the death of bassist Paul Gray in 2010, but the first without drummer Joey Jordison. It is also the first show to feature any new music in six years, the latest album, .5: The Gray Chapter likely to hit the charts at number one. And a mere glance at the crowd suggests that they’ve shattered attendance records for this place. It is, make no mistake, a big fucking deal!
The question is moot whether Slipknot are any good or not, they are always good, one of the most exciting live bands on the planet, with a true air of insanity about every show. Opening with Iowa’s 515 and the ferocious People = Shit the are simply unrelenting throughout, without question the most brutal band ever to invade the mainstream. More importantly this feels like a new beginning for the band, The Gray Chapter marking a new era for the band. Along with anonymous new bassist and drummer, Alessandro ‘Vman’ Venturella and Jay Weinburg, (allegedly) there are finally some new songs, The Negative One being the first offering tonight. The keyword for tonight is new! New masks, new madness, and even new favourite live songs.
Up until Custer the highlight of the show is debatable. For some it will be a relatively rare airing of Eeyore, for others it’ll be Wait And Bleed, or a poignant Three Nil, the lyric “today I say goodbye” feeling like a farewell to Paul Gray and the passing chapter of the band. Up until Custer that is… Holy shit! Are they serious? No band twenty years into their career raises the bar this high! Even Slipknot themselves appear momentarily stunned by the reaction, and there’s a pause in the set like the calm in the eye of a hurricane. “You motherfuckers are insane!” says frontman, Corey Taylor before leading the audience to sing-along with the closer, Duality. And there’s still Spit It Out and Surfacing to come!
Put simply, Slipknot owed it tonight, untouchable in every respect. Welcome the fuck back!
(515) People = Shit Eeyore Disasterpiece The Negative One Sulfur Eyeless Wait And Bleed Dead Memories Before I Forget Three Nil Frail Limb Nursery Purity Custer Duality Spit It Out Surfacing