Moshpit Memoirs: Slipknot
I don’t know if it’s due to the season of Halloween masks, but the band Slipknot has been on my mind as of late. Perhaps it’s also because their 20 year anniversary is coming up and frontman Corey Taylor recently revealed that he's begun lyric writing for a new Slipknot album. Whatever it is, I feels like the right time to look back at all the Slipknot live shows that I’ve survived and conquered.
Ozzfest June 30, 2001 in San Bernardino:
A pinnacle of metal concerts, in my opinion. Metal exuberance filled the Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion (that’s right, Blockbuster!) as metalheads bounced between the main stage and second stages. I vividly remember approaching the main stage with the sad knowledge that Drowning Pool’s last minute cancellation would prevent my own personal “let the bodies hit the floor” moment. But my frown quickly turned into upside down into a snarl as nine jumpsuited figures hit the stage. It was if a blinding light of metal fury was cast over the audience, cranking the mood from from eight to eleven. As the first notes rang out, I was actually nervous as opening acts Linkin Park, Papa Roach, and Nonpoint hadn’t quite warmed us up properly for such a heavy onslaught. It was like the metal equivalent of going from Kenny G to Slayer, you get what I’m saying?
As the show raged on, I witnessed a deranged clown smashing a trashcan with a bat, a gas masked DJ jumping from the stage-support into the audience, a long nosed gimp… you know what, I'll stop myself there. Suffice to say, it was the kind of that left me with a natural high and a ring in my heart (and ears) that started my love for a band I knew nothing about. I guess If you wanted to make it more poetic, that was the day I went from a young man to a maggot.
Ozzfest July 31, 2004 in San Bernardino:
I returned to the now-called "Hyundai Pavilion," rocking the sweetest of Superjoint Ritual shirts that I won from a local rock radio booth. My friends were anchored to the main stage line up, but I had my eyes glued to that second stage. With the likes of Darkest Hour, DevilDriver, Unearth, Every Time I Die, Lacuna Coil, Atreyu, and Lamb of God… it was a veritable who’s who of amazing talent that would fight for my love on my “most played” on my IPod mini.
There was, however, one band that I was looking forward to the most. Dawning new masks and new black outfits, Slipknot hit the stage with a whole new level of polish. The insanity and crazy stage antics were still there, but it was different now, somehow even more pure and focused. At that point it was less of an embodiment of emotion and noise, and more like a singular drumline hellbent on unifying the audience with its music. And, sure, maybe I lost my left shoe in the pit, but it was well goddamn worth it for that experience!
And you can be that the mosh was unreal when “Before I Forget” dropped.
Mayhem Festival July 16, 2008 in Chula Vista:
Okay, this is one of the shows I actually wished was back in San Bernardino, because Chula Vista’s amphitheater was terrible. From the parking lot of horror to making me miss most of the side stage performances, to the staff frisking me three times because I was apparently the "most suspicious guy there.” However, for that night... I let it all slide.
After watching Five Finger Death Punch at the properly branded Jägermeister Stage, I took to my lawn seat watched the main stage as megaband after megaband came and went. To be fair the sound was great, but we felt so disconnected way in the back. This raised a serious question: would Slipknot suffer from this same effect? Will we not have the Slipknot experience if we were not front and center?! Will I ever remember why I thought it was a good idea to wear my dress shirt to a metal festival??!! All I knew at that moment was Slipknot was hitting the stage next and I wished I could be closer.
The sound cue goes off and the band hits the stage. Now brandishing newer, more morbid-er masks and a more military aesthetic to their black uniforms, they kicked off the proceedings. From a set list of ranging from big hits and deep dive charms, this performance blew away the prior disappointments. My bud and I headbanged in the back as “Psychosocial” blasted its way through the audience, giving us the biggest pop when we saw the turntablist, Sid Wilson, crawled on stage while having 2 broken ankles.
After that show, I had an epiphany: my love of the band was not just from their music and “crazy live” antics, it was also from the artistry and dedication they bring to the fans at every show making you feel a part of it, no matter if you are in the front or in the back.
Knotfest October 25, 2014 in San Bernardino:
Back at the now "San Manuel Amphitheater," enjoying the array of mass talent that Slipknot brought to its self-branded festival. It was so refreshing to go to a metal festival that had such a huge lineup and had things to do at any time. It was like they created a festival that catered to the twisted minds of their fans by bringing upside down ferris wheel, a thunderdome, food trucks with appropriate names like “Grill Em All” and having lots of fire. The spectacle of this fest engulfed all who came and brought their senses to an overload, much like Sipknot's music. As day turned to night, it was time for the final act to hit the stage.
Slipknot came on to an roaring crowd that had been fueled by the day devoted to stimulation and anticipation, waiting to hear the band that brought this festival to life. As I stood in the center in audience, the pit beginning in motion, I noticed some younger kids in the crowd. They reminded me that at one point I was just like them, wide eyed to the spectacle of the insane Slipknot live show. Having aged 13 years during the course of this journey just as I did, Slipknot might not be setting themselves on fire or smashing their heads into the audience at this point, but you can believe that still brought every ounce of the same intensity that I first witnessed in 2001. And that, my friends, is what will keep bringing me (and those kids) back to witness Slipknot over and over again.