Monday, July 27, 2015

Slipknot Kick Off Summer's Last Stand in West Palm

summer's last stand west palm 2015

I first heard Slipknot when "Duality" came out back in 2004. I instantly loved the dynamics of that song. The way it went from heavy to beautifully melodious and back. The insane drumming. It was perfect. The album, Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, was even better and made me get into the rest of their stuff, including the much heavier previous albums. There was something ominous about them that went beyond the masks. The darkness of their world view was not rooted in the occult. It was every day hate and anger, in many cases turned inward. This was a somehow different breed of metal than I grew up with and while it likely served the same purpose of letting off steam, the fact that the themes were so real made it seem like it was a fine line between dissipating violence and encouraging it. But that danger, that razor's edge, is exactly what makes it something of importance and something special. So all these years later, when Carlos* mentioned going to see them, I was a little scared.

There were like 4 bands playing at the Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm. It was the first show of the Summer's Last Stand Tour. While I'd heard of the other bands, I wasn't really interested in them so we didn't plan to get there until Slipknot was about to play. We did, however catch about 3 songs from Lamb of God, which I guess are a big deal. It was very heavy and there was a projection of battle footage that gave the whole thing a kind of apocalyptic vibe, especially since the first and only word I understood from the lead singer was when he actually, stereotypically, yelled out, as part of his audience banter, "SATAN!!"

summer's last stand
Insane stage.

Anyway, once they were done it wasn't long before Slipknot unleashed what turned out to be an amazing show that was equal parts opening the gates of hell and Kiss style theatrics. There were several times that I wished, probably delusionally, that I had been down in the pit getting a better view and really feeling the energy. But as it was, from our more than safe distance, my knees were killing me just standing there.

I couldn't name all the songs, but the few I did remember, and some of the new ones I hadn't heard were great. I'm not a fan of big venues, especially when they're outdoors. The sound was ok, but at that volume, in the open air, it's bound to get muddied and lost, no matter how good the mix. The stage set was pretty insane featuring a giant devil head and ramps and fire and Christmas lights. There are a lot of dudes in Slipknot and three of them were drumming. One guy just kept jumping off the second level of the stage, repeatedly, because he's the DJ and there are maybe 3 songs that he actually has to do anything on. But all that insanity and over the top madness serves to somehow simultaneously enhance and balance out the darkness and nihilism. Because it's all in good fun.

One example of the fun was a song I hadn't heard before called "Custer" which features a chorus that everyone sang along in unison. That happy little chorus was "Cut, cut, cut me up and fuck, fuck, fuck me up." I thought Carlos shit his pants during that one. But the thing is this song, this music, this community is built on giving voice to dark thoughts. At several points Corey Taylor, lead singer, talked about us all being part of a family and how metal was the true music of the streets. And while I'm sure it's true that most genres, especially the more outsider genres develop these supportive communities, there's something about the nature of the metal catharsis (I've really taken to this word lately) that inspires a sense of community. Maybe it's because all that anger is coming from mostly painful places and anyone that is really into it can recognize it in each other even if we don't get all touchy feely about it. I don't know. Maybe it's just bullshit and it's just adrenaline.

*It's funny how mentioning Carlos makes him seem like my Argentinian lover or something. But he's actually Puerto Rican. 

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