Slipknot, As I Lay Dying, Asking Alexandria – Meadowbrook Arena, Gilford, NH Aug. 2012
I have praised the merits of Corey Taylor’s golden vocal cords on this blog before, but it was quite a different experience going to see them live. Upon arriving at the venue, my friend Justin and I found that our $30 lawn seats had been upgraded to $65 ampitheater seats based on low ticket sales. Needless to say, we were pretty stoked off the bat. The two of us took in a lackluster set by Americans-by-way-of-England Asking Alexandria for an appetizer. The band’s frontman, Danny Worsnop, strutted around like some kind of weird, misplaced cowboy, screaming his dick off while wearing some white dress shirt Matthew McConaughey threw away and boots he stole from Clint Eastwood. There is no denying the band’s appeal and the fact that they write great songs (Hell, I own both of their full lengths), but at least on this night, they failed to pull the songs off live at all. It was awkward and phoned in and Justin and I got a kick out of laughing at the backing tracks.
As I Lay Dying, on the other hand, brought the thunder. This is a band that I have been into since I was a wee one, but I never remembered them being as good live as they were the other night. First of all, Tim Lambesis is jacked as fuck now. Second of all, Jordan Mancino is way more of a beast on the drums than Taste of Chaos (’05?, ’06?) conjures up in my memory bank. The band whipped the crowd into a frenzy and roared through hits from “94 Hours” to “The Sound of Truth.” Their whole set was fantastic and I eagerly await the arrival of their new record in September.
Out of all the awesome shit that had happened that day, however, Justin and I’s good fortunes were about to pale in comparison to the set Slipknot was about to play.
I have been open and honest about the fact that I am a late bloomer when it comes to the wonders of Slipknot. I wrote a blog entry explaining how my recent obsession with Slipknot was largely due to that of frontman Corey Taylor. Needless to say, I was stoked/nervous to get my first real Slipknot experience. When the lights went down and the red play curtain came up, I felt an unease and a tension I have not felt from a crowd in over a decade. The band emanates such a feeling of “anything could happen” it is tough to encapsulate in words, but suffice it to say that when the 8 remaining band members could be seen, the crowd went off.
The band blasted through what amounted to basically a greatest hits set (which made sense considering the release of their recent Greatest Hits record) with a fiery fervor that should have been reserved for a sell out crowd. I got the idea that the band plays the same way every night, regardless of head count.
Taylor & crew cruised through hits like “Eyeless,” “The Heretic Anthem” and “Wait & Bleed” while the crowd pulsed and swelled in front of them; a sea of puppets whose marionettes were carefully controlled by 8 masked men. Percussionists Shawn Crahan and Chris Fehn beat the hell out of an assortment of drums and beer kegs (Both Crahan and drummer Joey Jordison were both airborne at one pint via hydraulic drum kits) and also served to back Taylor up on some screaming parts. Every single note I thought Taylor couldn’t possibly hit live, he absolutely nailed. Every lick Mick Thompson and Jim Root played on their albums, they replicated beautifully in a live setting. Everything was spot on, but there was a dark cloud hanging over the proceedings nonetheless.
After a brilliant set, Slipknot returned for a well earned encore. As they headed back out to the stage, Slipknot’s banner dropped from the stage to reveal a gigantic “2,” the assigned number of departed ‘Knot bassist Paul Gray. Corey Taylor gave an impassioned speech about the loss of Gray and the ensuing unity in the Slipknot camp and within their fanbase, which brought tears to the eyes of even the most hardened metal fans in the building. The band blew through 3 more songs before closing out the evening and theit summer tour with a bang, and sending ticketholders home with more than their money’s worth.
Through the whole set, through DJ Sid Wilson’s antics and stage diving, through the epic sing along of “Duality,” through the everyone-down-on-one-knee-and-jump-the-fuck-up craziness of “Spit It Out,” and everything in between, Slipknot ruled the evening and proved why they have earned their place in the upper echelon of metallic deities.
Sure, there was a weird, white trash element to the whole thing. While enjoying cigarettes on the lawn, an overweight “maggot” continuously referred to Justin as the “N word” while his shirtless, trailer trash buddy tried to pull him away. Additionally, a middle aged woman told us how drunk she was, how much she loved metal and couldn’t wait to see Slipknot. Then she asked us if we had any pot. One guy was reliving the time he saw Coal Chamber while bumming out on how he was missing System Of A Down that night. Ugh.
But, after an excited drive home and several shots of Sailor Jerry’s, at one one point Justin remarked to me how he used to think the masks were a gimmick to get people to buy records. He continued to explain the extended metaphor of the masks based on what Taylor had said to the crowd about losing Gray and the strong support system that is the metal community. It’s all a bit hazy, but I agree. At the end of it all, Justin and I go down on one knee and jumpedthefuckup at the same time, sending out a shot to Mr. Gray, Mr. Taylor and the boys. On this one night, for two men in their mid 20’s, Slipknot proved that metal is alive and well and as strong as ever. Thank you, Mr. Taylor.
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