Oct. 15, 2009
I’ve never really considered myself a Heavy Metal fan. Metallica’s “Black Album” and Megadeth’s “Countdown to Extinction” were my first steps into a different musical world. Yes, I know, true metal fans will say that Metallica stopped being a heavy metal band when they decided to go “all mainstream and shit” with that album.
My buddy Earl, who is definitely a metal purist in every sense of the word, was patient with me at the time and made sure to let me know that it was alright to like this “new stuff”, but that this was not “real” metal. He tried to get me into their older, darker stuff, but in the end I think he was just glad that we finally had at least a small patch of common musical ground. Aside from a brief but torrid fascination with Marilyn Manson’s “Antichrist Superstar”, that was pretty much the extent of my foray into the metal universe. I can certainly appreciate metal for what it is, but I think it would be fair to say that I never really “got it”.
All that changed this past Thursday. I’d heard of Slipknot before – a manager at one of my previous job was a fan and sometimes wore a Slipknot t-shirt to work on the weekends – but I really knew pretty much nothing about them. When I got the email confirming to shoot the show and write this review, I started searching the usual places on the ‘Net for some background information. I was surprised to discover that they’d only put out one demo album, 4 studio albums, and one live compilation in their almost 15 year history.
This show was the opening show for the Canadian leg of their tour for 2008’s “All Hope Is Gone” and was also celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album, 1999’s self-titled “Slipknot”. Everything I’d read and had heard from a few people told me that this was “more visual”, so I looked up a few videos. “Psychosocial” and “Dead Memories”, the second and third singles from “All Hope Is Gone” certainly proved that correct and also surprised me with melodic vocals mixed in with the requisite screams and throaty growls. While all the band member’s masks seem at first glance to evoke memories of deeply buried childhood phobias, lead singer Corey Taylor’s relatively simplistic mask was for me the most fascinating and the most disturbing. I can’t put a finger on what exactly it is, but that simple mask somehow compelled me to keep watching. It grabbed my attention, drew me in and kept me held tightly in its misshapen, hollow-eyed, gaping mouth grasp. As it turns out, that was just the appetizer for the main course yet to come.
Watching videos and reading dry words on a web page in no way fully prepared me for seeing Slipknot live on stage. The band, each member known individually on stage only as numbers, slowly crept on stage one by one, taking up their appointed positions; 3 drummers / percussionists, 2 guitars, a bass, a DJ, a sampler and the singer. Thus began my induction into “Maggotdom”. “Maggots” is the generally preferred term for the legions of fans this band commands. Not knowing much of the band a scant 12 hours before, I didn’t know all the songs that they assaulted the throbbing crowd with.
One of my issues with a lot of metal bands, particularly the heavier, darker, thrashier ones, is that most of their songs sound somewhat a like and if you don’t know the songs, they all seem to flow into one another. I had that same problem a few times at this show, too, but not as much as I’d expected. Slipknot delivers many variations on the thrash metal theme, and thankfully, Corey broke up the set a few times to interact with the crowd. Sure, he dropped a LOT of F-bombs and other “colourful adjectives” in his conversations with the audience, if one can call talking to a almost sell-out crowd of roughly 11,000 screaming, moshing, double-fist-pumping crazed Maggots a “conversation”, but what stood out the most, at least to me, was the pure sincerity he brought forth in voicing the band’s appreciation for their fan’s loyalty and dedication.
After all, as Corey so astutely put it, he and his Slipknot brothers are where they are because of the fans, and he was quick to point out how much it bothers him that a lot of other bands these days have lost sight of that fact. And who else but the fans could propel a band who’s repertoire includes such elements as empty Budweiser kegs being “played” with baseball bats, clown-masked percussionists hanging off their scissor-lifted, rotating drum kits and in previous years at least, a stage show so self-destructive that would sometimes result in the band leaving the venue and going straight to the nearest hospital. In repayment for the 10+ years of loyalty and support, Slipknot gave the gathered fans a performance that was tight, powerful, explosively energetic, and so awe inspiring that not one person left the Coliseum disappointed. Quite the contrary, actually, virtually everyone wanted more.
A further testament to the power this band commands over their followers came near the end of the show. Halfway through the show staple finale song “Spit It Out”, Corey commands “all the crazy motherfuckers” in the house to get down on their knees. The venue is eerily quiet, as quiet as it can be anyway, as they await their orders. As the song continues and builds to a thrashing crescendo, Corey barks out “JUMP THE FUCK UP!!” and the faithful dutifully obey. Seeing nearly every person at the Coliseum, be they on the floor or in the stands, all jumping up at the same time was an awe-inspiring sight that sealed the fate of my music-loving soul.
Hi, my name is Paul, and I am a Maggot.
I think Earl would be proud.
Slipknot continues its “All Hope Is Gone 2009” / 10th Anniversary tour with stops in Western Canada and cities in the Western United States through the end of October. Tour dates, band merchandise and other information can be found at their website .
Vancouver Slipknot Set List:
3. Wait and Bleed
4. Get This
5. Before I Forget
8. Dead Memories
9. The Blister Exists
16. Spit it Out
(editor’s note) Opening act, California experimental/thrash band Deftones, put on a commanding performance as far as opening acts go – especially as far as opening acts for Slipknot can go. Lead singer Chino Moreno was moving across the stage as a rabid pace and made people wonder how he could keep the energy level up so high. Fans were also commenting on his amazing voice, which barked with thrashy growls and screams and then moments later mellowed to carry a bitterly melodic tune. The band performed a set list chosen by the fans in an online poll.
Review and Photos by Paul Oostergo