Category Archives: Show Reviews

Norma Jean at Cobalt Cafe

Norma Jean-117Norma Jean, Cobalt Cafe, November 14, 2014

Norma Jean at the Cobalt Café was downright INSANITY. They came out on stage with “The Potter Has No Hands” off their latest album, Wrongdoers. Instantly, the whole audience started to scream and jump, it was PACKED. Plenty of people were stealing the microphone from Cory, that night and tons were just screaming the lyrics. This was one of the craziest shows I have ever attended at the Cobalt, there were so many people, there were tons of crowd surfing, and tons of crowd diving.

Norma Jean-185I’ve seen Norma Jean twice before, at Summer Slaughter (House of Blues) & The Word Alive’s Deceiver Tour (Chain Reaction). Both times, they had great performances, but this night was one to take the cake. Most songs they played were off Wrongdoers, they played a couple old songs, off their first album. The overall show had some of the best sound I’ve heard so far from the Cobalt, I could hear every individual instrument and the vocals. Cory had said something about how clubs like the Cobalt are mostly the size of clubs they play as of now because of the intimacy. Norma Jean is definitely a hardcore genre veteran, they’ve been around since 1997, and definitely have made a huge impact in their genre. If you’re into the hardcore scene and haven’t seen Norma Jean, you’re making a huge mistake.

Presented by Twohearts Shows

Setlist:
“The Potter Has No Hands”
If You Got It at Five, You Got It at Fifty
The End of All Things That Will Be Televised
The Lash Whistled Like a Singing Wind
I Used to Hate Cell Phones, Now I Hate Car Accidents
Deathbed Atheist
Sword Mouth, Fire Eyes
Hive Minds
Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

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Sworn In at House Of Blues – Sunset Strip

swornin4Sworn In, House Of Blues – Sunset Strip, November 30, 2014

Sworn In at the House of Blues was heavy and fun. This was the biggest tour they’ve been on so far, and they had a great set in Hollywood. The only bad thing about their set was that it was too short; they had only enough time for 5 songs, and they were my favorite band on the bill. Tyler Dennen came out on stage with XIII, and made a very demonic persona with it. Immediately you could see the resemblance to Gerard Way with the powdered face, and the red eyes.

The rest of the band enters the stage after the intro and starts to play Hypocrisy. The audience already being riled up from Tyler’s entrance made things crazier. Tyler was definitely more involved in the crowd than usual, and the whole band was just flowing so well live. Chris George, the drummer, had broken his right hand a couple days before the show and still continued to play perfectly. He didn’t miss a single note, and that was definitely amazing.

swornin1Sworn In played a brand new song live, called Sunshine. The song was definitely a lot lighter lyrically then all the other songs. Tyler explained the meaning of the song was basically f*@% all the haters and people who don’t believe in me, basically like all the other metalcore bands lyrics. It was still really cool though because Tyler definitely put his own twist on it. Sworn In is definitely being given an A+ for stage presence and their performance.

Set List:
XIII
Hypocrisy
Mindless
Not My Sunshine
Snake Eyes

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

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Circa Survive at the Fox Theater

Circa Survive-363Circa Survive, The Fox Theater, November 26, 2014

Circa Survive at The Fox Theater in Pomona was unreal, and too good to be true. The show was the day before Thanksgiving, and still managed to sell out. Words cannot put to justice how amazing they were, and how happy I was to get the opportunity to finally not only see, but shoot them. The best thing about the whole thing was that Circa Survive sounded better live than on recordings, I love when artists truly live up to their hype.

They came out on stage with Through the Desert Alone, hyping the crowd just with guitar riffs, and Anthony Green splashing a little water on the crowd from his fingers. Anthony’s vocals have become raspier, making the song sound different than how it was recorded. His voice was just perfect; he’s the best singer I’ve heard live, easily. Not only was Anthony’s voice incredible, but the instrumentals were beautiful. At one point during the middle of a song, Anthony Green stuck the microphone into his mouth. He was really getting into the performance and trying to make things funny.

Circa Survive-687In the middle of the show, after playing Semi-Constructive Criticism, Anthony pointed out a fan that he said, “sang beautifully, and sounded like an emo Josh Groban.” I’ve never heard a frontman say that to a fan before, let alone hear them with all the noise on stage. Circa Survive then played their single Schema, off their new album “Descensus” which was recently released through Sumerian Records.

The thing I found most interesting was when Anthony directed the crowd to stay still during the last song until he gives them a command to “release all wiggles and be little hippies”. I was shocked to see the floor actually listen to him. Everyone stood still for about half the song, and then started jumping around and whatnot when he gave them a signal to do so. That’s something else I’ve never seen at a show, so it was cool seeing that Circa Survive does things differently. This was one of the greatest shows I’ve attended, I highly advise everyone to see Circa live.

Setlist:
Through the Desert Alone
Strange Terrain
Sharp Practice
Semi-Constructive Criticism
Schema
Glass Arrows
Fever Dreams
The Greatest Lie
Suitcase
Kicking Your Crosses Down
In Fear and Faith
Stop the Fuckin’ Car
Only the Sun
Frozen Creek
The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose
Child of the Desert

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

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The Shakers at The Viper Room

theshakersviperrev1The Shakers, The Viper Room, November 15, 2014

It was off to the notorious Viper Room on the Sunset Strip with photographer Jack Lue to check out a local band destined for greater glories ahead. We are speaking of The Shakers, a raging indie rock entity whose dynamic live shows will take this wondrously unique collective to the top! Fearlessly bucking the trends and coming up with a sound that is visionary and compelling, The Shakers is the kind of band that shows the City Of Angels could still unleash some ferocious talent onto the world at the large. Headlining the world famous venue on a Saturday night,  The Shakers had The Viper Room packed to the rafters for what would be a tremendously memorable show.

theshakersviperrev2Opening with the nefarious strains of Villain, the room was quaking right away with the vibrant intensity The Shakers were exuded from the stage. One notices right away the mesmerizing performance of Jodie Schell, unleashing the memorable vocals with a captivating sense of urgency. Not a shy chanteuse in the least, Ms. Schell vented a range of emotions that were absolutely electrifying. Chris Lee on lead guitar unveiled an exhilarating wall of sound, while John “Ro” Rogan on bass and Nick Woods on drum made for a thrilling rhythm section ride on the wild side. Performing songs from their recently released Rescue Team as well as unveiling a whole cadre of thrilling new material, top tunes by The Shakers included Mystics, I Spy, and the devastating Thundercloud.

theshakersviperrev3Opening for acts as wide ranging as Everclear, Our Lady Peace, and The Motels, The Shakers own innovative work has clearly attracted an audience looking for a heartfelt, auditory adventure. All this, and the songs are insanely accessible, leaving an indelible impression even at first listen. It will be exciting to see what the future has in store for The Shakers, certainly one of L.A’s best kept secrets.  Be sure to check this rocking outfit out when they show up to shake it up at the clubs in your town.

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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At Our Expense at Cobalt Cafe

atourexp2At Our Expense, Cobalt Café, November 12, 2014

At Our Expense is a hard working collective from the San Fernando Valley who has found themselves on national tours, and have self-released their own recordings over the last few years. Amazingly unsigned at this time, At Our Expense combines the melodies of punk punk with the vibrant intensity of post hardcore – unleashing an auditory exhibition of sound that will captivate the senses. Playing right into the middle of an all pop punk night at the Cobalt Café, At Our Expense drew a wildly appreciative crowd on an otherwise tranquil Wednesday night in Canoga Park.

atourexp3Opening with the spiraling Lighthouse, the first track from their recently released I’m The One Who Changed effort, At Our Expense sent the room spinning with their exhilarating set. One noticed right away the shattering clean vocals of Angel Carmona, venting an emotional intensity that soared into the stratosphere. The ferocious unclean vocals then arrived via Andy Argueta, presenting a feral juxtaposition that really kept your attention throughout. The two charismatic front men were way up in the front, certainly drawing the audience in with two very impassioned performances.

atourexp4The musicianship in the band was absolutely thrilling, with each member contributing tremendously to the At Our Expense wall of sound. Terrific performances all around from Danny Santamaria on guitar, Danny Lopez on guitar and vocals, Emory Mugalianon bass, and Michael Duffy on drums. Focusing on material culled from the new CD, songs such as The Walls Around Me and In The Heart Of August were gripping and ambitious. With a show this powerful and an explosive recording to back it all up, it won’t be long before we witness At Our Expense finally breaking it out into the big leagues, whether with a record label or on their own terms. In the meantime, be sure to catch up to this vastly underrated local band on the rise and get ready to be thoroughly impressed by their sonic artistry. Presented by TwoHearts Show!

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Talia Farber)

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Relient K at The Glass House

fromindian1Relient K, Blondfire, From Indian Lakes, The Glass House, November 14th, 2014

From Indian Lakes have two CD’s already and haa proven to be an eclectic arty garage guitar based band. These mix elements of The Ocean Blue’s sound with an artistic lead vocalist that uses higher vocals that flow gracefully over the blend of lush guitars and keyboards. They hail out of Yosemite National Park, California area. Being from the forest mountain area might explain the dreamy sound of their music. They would do really well if they were to play Coachella Music and Arts Festival or perhaps on Saturday Night Live. They are currently signed to Triple Crown Records. The best song in the bands set was Am I Alive from the newest release Absent Sounds album.

blondefireFrom Los Angeles next up was Blondfire. They are currently on tour in support of their newest release Young Heart. The female vocalist reminded me of Kelly Clarkson but more slowed down and relaxed. They play wonderful heartfelt pop songs with catchy melodies. However, in the middle of the bands set they play a cover of Dreams by Fleetwood Mac and did it really well! One of the best songs in the bands set was Hide And Seek. Hide And Seek would make for a cool video of the same name of the game as well.

relientkColumbia Records recording artist Relient K was for sure what the sold out crowd came to see. All six members were playing their hearts out to the crowd. The hour and a half long set had the audience singing alone to every song they did. They decided to go back into 2004 a do the entire album of theirs called Mmhmm. They also played one of their newest songs from the recent album Collapsible Lung. From that album they played during the 20 minute encore Don’t Blink which the crowd went into a frenzy for, plus a few more songs from the bands back catalog. A great time was had by all. Every one left happy and uplifted.

(Review and Photos by Jonathan D. Wright)

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The Get Real Tour at The Glass House

thewordreview1The Word Alive, Myka, Relocate, Asylus, The Glass House, November 9, 2014

The Word Alive made their way into town, headlining the Get Real Tour at The Glass House on a Sunday night in Downtown Pomona. The venue was packed to the rafters, even for the opening bands. And what a tremendous lineup The Word Alive brought along, including the likes of The Color Morale, Our Last Night, The Dead Rabbitts, and Myka, Relocate. With this many exciting bands packed on one touring package, the elation throughout the venue could be felt tenfold. Southern California was about to truly Great Real in a glorious way, with each band presenting topnotch performances throughout the night.

asylusjl1The first act to hit the stage was not on the touring package at all, and yet Asylus from Orange County captivated the early arrivals with a wondrously solid performance. Opening their short yet combustible set with You Should’ve Yelled Fire, Asylus ignited the room with an exhilaration that was highly infectious. Just as talented as anyone on the touring package, the explosive compositions Asylus unleash including Endeavors, The Sacrifice, and To Whom It May Concern. And while there was apparently a good amount audience members familiar with Asylus, there is little doubt this collective gained even more converts. The resourceful Asylus membership consists of Tyler Casanova on vocals. Nicholas Miller on vocals and bass, Jordan Damasco on guitar, Alan Hernandez on guitar, and Mel Torres on drums. Stay tuned, because with songs this memorable and a band this charismatic, we are destined to hear a lot more from Asylus in the months ahead!

mykalive1Through one band’s misfortune arrived another band’s destiny, and there is no one who deserved this opening slot on the Get Real Tour more than Myka, Relocate. This hard working band from Houston, Texas has been paying their dues for a few years now, playing in small clubs all across the nation. With a chance to reach this many people, Myka, Relocate took the opportunity and presented a show that was nothing short of mesmerizing. And while it is routine to have two front men doing the clean vocals and the screams, the duo who inhabit Myka, Relocate really stand out in an otherwise overcrowded genre. Screamer John Ritter exudes a ton of depth and intensity, his growls thundering throughout the cavernous Glass House. And then there’s clean vocalist Michael Swank, whose emotive singing soars into the stratosphere. Keeping it real with an all-out vengeance were Luke Burleigh on bass, Austin Dore’ on guitar, Josh Peltier on guitar, and Aaron Robertson on drums. Their current album Lies To Light The Way remains one of the most vastly underrated post hardcore album in recent years, but expect that all to change if they keep on winning over the bigger crowds on the Get Real Tour. Highlights of the set included Something To Dream About and Useless. A triumphant performance to be sure – and if you wanted to meet the two front men, they hung out at the merch booth all night long taking pictures and greeting fans old and new.

thewordreview2After impressive sets from The Dead Rabbitts, Our Last Night, and The Color Morale, it was time for the headliner to arrive on stage. And amidst a stunning light show, The Word Alive presented an explosive set that sent the room into a frenzy. From the opening strains of Broken Circuit, the mosh pit went wild, and those who weren’t slamming into each other were singing along joyously to the anthem-like songs. Play The Victim and Lighthouse were especially exhilarating, showing The Word Alive at their most compelling both lyrically and sonically. One of the big surprises of the set was when Luke Holland was left alone on the stage, and did a fantastic drum solo performance to the Skrillex song Cinema. It was like one of his mega-popular YouTube videos coming to ultra-vivid life. Such a dazzling display of talent from one of the very best young drummers on the scene today.

thewordreview3Another stunning highlight was the impassioned Never Forget, about a song about celebrating the life of friends and family who are no longer with us today – not a slow heart-wrenching tune, but one filled with exultation, and a beat that makes you want to take on the world. “I’d rather die than live a life without meaning,” vocalist Telle Smith then sang passionately, launching into their dynamically inspiring Life Cycles anthem. This one always packs an emotional punch when presented live, and no matter how many times an audience has heard it in the past, the tune still retains an emotional wallop.

As a unit, The Word Alive remains one of the most compelling, hardworking collectives on the planet. There is so much heart and conviction to be found within each and every member of The Word Alive collective, featuring the gripping performances of Telle Smith on vocals, Tony Pizzuti on guitar and vocals, Zack Hansen on guitar and vocals, Daniel Shapiro on bass and vocals, and Luke Holland on drums. Be sure to check out The Word Alive’s latest auditory epic entitled Real., out now from Fearless Records!

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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The Dead Rabbits at The Glass House

deadrabbitts1tlThe Dead Rabbitts, The Glass House, November 9, 2014

The Dead Rabbitts at The Glass House on the ‘Get Real Tour’ were great. Having seen them only once before years ago I can definitely say they’ve stepped up their game. Seeing Craig Mabbitt on this tour was a little ironic, due to the fact that he was the original vocalist of The Word Alive. Knowing that, they’re all probably still good friends.

Their set only contained songs off their latest release Shapeshifter. Craig Mabbitt and the rest of the Rabbitts definitely know how to put on a performance. There were tons of crowd surfers coming behind me in the photo pit. Their songs definitely had a great amount of singing from the crowd. Deer in the Headlights received the best reaction, the crowd sang loudest to that one.

Craig Mabbitt’s vocals are always just so impressive live; he’s definitely an amazing performer. Their set was short, but sweet, I definitely recommend watching them on the ‘Get Real Tour’.

Setlist:
My Only Regret
Nothing But A Reject
Shapeshifter
Bats in the Belfry
Deer in the Headlights

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber

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Black Oak Arkansas at The Whisky

image1609404Black Oak Arkansas, Lynnette Skynyrd, The Schnyde, The Aviators, The Whisky, November 7, 2014

Consider the jaded mind of a music critic blown. It was a Friday night on the Sunset Strip in the year 2014, and Highwire Daze Editor Ken and his trusty photographer Jack Lue made their way into the hallowed walls of world famous Whisky – and then got transported back in time to a concert headlined by the one and only Black Oak Arkansas. Have no fear about the passages through time, as Jim “Dandy” Mangrum and his Black Oak crew was slated to come to the rescue a little after the midnight hour. Prior to meeting up with the legendary headliners, we caught a few of the other bands who made this journey into the past such a vibrant, unforgettable experience.

The Aviators

aviators1Before any of the touring acts, one of the locals that really attracted a good amount of attention was The Aviators from Bakersfield, California. If these guys were around in the age of the hard rockin’ 70’s, they would be absolutely huge. With the classic rock genre still thriving in the 21st Century, The Aviators prove that catchy tunes will always remain timeless. Two of their most wildly infectious songs were Flying Planes / Hopping Trains and Tattoos, Whiskey and Wine – and even though many in the crowd were hearing these raging anthems for the first time, there was plenty of singing rambunctiously along occurring throughout. Lead vocalist August Young really knows how to deliver a riveting performance and can play the cowbell like no other! Will Slikker rages on with super tasty lead guitar licks, driving the material into a whole new fiery dimension. Closing with Wolfman from their debut CD Gotta Have Em To Grab Em, there is no doubt that the high-flying Aviators grabbed a whole bunch of new fans on this wild and crazy night at the Whisky!

The Schnyde

schynyde2Up next was The Schnyde from Wentzville, MO, a solo artist with over 30 years experience and a repertoire of over 400 classic rock and country songs. His parody numbers he’s penned, like Bruce Springsteen’sHungry Hearts” as “Hungry Parts“; Nazareth’sWhiskey Drinkin’ Woman” as “Nookie Sellin’ Women“; and Moody Blues‘ “Nights in White Satin” as “Drag in White Satin” where all present and humorously accounted for.  Arriving on stage with just a guitar and harmonica, one clearly does to expect some of the raunchy songs emitting from this seemingly affable looking figure. Citing comedians such as Steve Martin, Rodney Dangerfield and the SNL crew, The Schnyde was personally selected by Black Oak Arkansas to open their shows on this tour, and his front porch aura and wickedly bawdy compositions definitely left a lingering impression. It was an acoustic set via a David Lynch movie, and the results were just short of a ride of the crazy train. Some audience members looked bewildered while others seemed to really get into what this unique musician was offering up to the Friday night party crowd on Sunset Strip.

Lynette Skynyrd

lynnette1Lynette Skynyrd is known as the only all-female Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band in the world, and this massively talented act is based out of Southern California. Invited to play select dates for the Black Oak Arkansas tour, the girls of Lynette Skynyrd proved to be a formidable opening act. Opening with the bluesy inflections of Saturday Night Special, if their good looks did not win over the crowd, then their superb musicianship certainly did! All members of Lynette Skynyrd were in tip top form, delivering the classics in a style that would even make Neil Young still remember! Such terrific guitar work, playful keyboard interludes, a rollicking rhythm section, sexy backup singers, and a lead vocalist that really makes you stand up and take notice! Lynette Skynyrd has it all, and by the time the grand finale of Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird arrived, the venue had taken flight, thoroughly enchanted by the rapturous sounds of Lynette Skynyrd. The South has risen once again!

Black Oak Arkansas

jimdandy2And it was now time to meet the 2014 edition of Black Oak Arkansas! Definitely the best dressed man on the planet, Jim Dandy arrived on stage, spinning warm homilies about the various songs they were performing throughout the evening. “Raunch and roll” was the theme of the event, and those who stayed well into the midnight hour and beyond were treated to an exhilarating set by a band who has persevered and continues to thrive in this modern age. You could not invent the characters you were seeing onstage, now being brought to life magically within the confines of the Whisky A Go Go. Looking around the room, one could clearly see the crowd was transfixed by what Black Oak Arkansas had to offer. From the opening strains on Plugged In And Wired to the wacky reveries of Hot Road and Happy Hooker on to the dazzling reprieves of the grand finale Jim Dandy To The Rescue, Black Oak Arkansas delivered the scrumptious goods in a big and dynamic way. There may be more than a few bleary eyed, hung over types scattered throughout Los Angeles when the morning arrives, but the night of November 7th belonged to Black Oak Arkansas and their ardent fans! And thus ended our extraordinary trip through time, courtesy of the many amazing bands and the world famous Whisky!

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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KNOTFEST 2014

knotfesttop1Knotfest U.S. 2014, San Manuel Amphitheater, San Bernardino, CA, October 25-26, 2014

Knotfest… A weekend that was created to awaken your darkest senses; let me tell you, it did much more than that. As you walk in to the festival you are greeted with numerous monstrous looking things on stilts wearing goat heads. Some people stopped to take pictures while others rushed downhill to the stages and the many other attractions Slipknot put together for the show. With four stages downstairs, and all of the main attractions such as the zip-line, all of the vendors, and the Slipknot museum, the fans are sure to be pleased.

DAY 1

ENTERING THE FESTIVAL GROUNDS & SLIPKNOT MUSEUM

THE SLIPKNOT MUSEUM - Photo by Edward Brandon

THE SLIPKNOT MUSEUM – Photo by Edward Brandon

I was able to enter the festival about 20 minutes early so bands hadn’t started playing therefore I had time to see some of the attractions without waiting. The first thing I wanted to do, not only for the review, but for my own viewing experience was the Slipknot museum. As you walk down the path to the museum there are 7 or 8 live rotting goat heads. Tongues sticking out, flies and bees chomping away on the dead flesh, the essence of Slipknot as a whole was in the air. As I stepped into the history of Slipknot I was floored. The first thing I saw was a giant Slipknot S, their logo, with the fallen Paul Gray red jumpsuit hanging from the top of it. That definitely brought some strong emotions to my stomach and heart. To my left there was all of Chris Fein and Clowns percussion sets from the previous years as well as their jumpsuits. Also on display, were the infamous Death Masks from the Vol. 3 Subliminal Versus Era. Only ever uses for the Vermillion music video and occasionally live for that song it was cool to see such an important part of Knot history. Walking farther into the museum the masks and outfits dating all the way back to 1999, as well as some of the stage ramps used during the previous tours. Also, what I thought was sort of cool, was next to each of their equipment was the band members personal ice chests with their names and drink preferences on them. Also included was the marching snare Chris and Clown during The Blister Exists and Psychosocial. Going all the way from the early 1999 Self-Titled days, to the All Hope Is Gone Era. As you walk out a man is standing there with a gong saying, “Wake up the Clown! Hit the gong!” so the fans were able to have a little bit of interactivity. The museum gave fans an inside look on the Knot that a fan normally would not be allowed to see, it was surely a special treat.

HEADBANG FOR THE HIGHWAY & OTHER STAGES

ONE OK ROCK

ONE OK ROCK

By the time I was basically asked to leave the museum for being in there too long, the bands were just starting to play. The first few bands that I watched were the Headbang For the Highway battle of the bands winners. It was cool to see mosh pits and circle pits opening up for bands that are too well known. Some of the bands were all the way from Nevada, which showed the true dedication to the music.

The first band that was on the official bill was a younger band all the way from Japan by the name of One Ok Rock. Those guys sure know how to put on an awesome show. Most people are just waking up on a Saturday at 11:45, but for them, there was already a crowd going past the soundboard. Miss May I came on immediately after. I’ve seen these guys about 6 times now and I promise myself every time that I will not miss there set. They put on such a killer show with crowd participation that will certainly blow minds.

Day two was much different than the first for me. Already getting many of the attractions out of the way I was able to focus more on the music itself. Seeing bands such as Whitechapel, Devildriver, Of Mice & Men and the legendary Killswitch Engage, I was more pumped than ever for night 2 of Slipknot.

THE FESTIVAL AS A WHOLE

Festival Photo by Edward Brandon

Festival Photo by Edward Brandon

On Saturday, I focused more soaking in the festival and what it has to offer. I was lucky enough to go two days so I had the opportunities to really look around every corner. I wanted to see the festival from every viewing point so; I did a lot of walking. The 4 smaller stages were all down a large hill. So down the hill was kind of like a festival of its own. The two bigger stages were united so whenever a band would end, the next would start right up. Of course the music was the main attraction but I wanted to experience what the festival truly was and walking around soaking in the people and the environment was a huge part of it for me. Down the hill there were vendors, the zip-line 4 stages, the freestyle motor-cross demo and much more. The whole festival reminded me a lot of Mayhem Festival in the way it was run. I took some time away from the music and walked up to the top of the lawn, which was up the hill. They had a huge dome the looked like the ones on playgrounds but triple in size. But this isn’t your average playground fun; this is the Thunderdome. Instead, two people are chosen to fight with batons and their own bodies. “Two men go in, and only one comes out”, is their slogan. I’ll let you imagine the rest. Also on the top of the lawn were a few carnival games as well as what seemed to be a huge hit, the Junk Car Drum Circle. These guys had old beat up cars, car batteries and barrels all over the place and yes, they made sweet sweet music with them. I was shocked at how well they kept in sync and how cool it sounded. They allowed the fans watching to interact by having a few car batteries lined up with drums sticks so the onlookers could participate in the fun. Another huge success was the ring of fire carnival ride. The line was huge for that all throughout the day. One giant loop that hangs up side down for about 30 seconds is sure to be a hit. All of the attractions that Slipknot provided were huge successes and there was never a dull moment.

MAIN-STAGE:

HATEBREED

HATEBREED

DAY 1: Hatebreed. I waited for about a half hour to get in the front of the line in the main-stage, which in the end, paid off tremendously. Remember, Slipknot has been my favorite band since I was about 10 years old. I was extremely excited to see them and I wanted to be as close as possible. The first band to go on the Main Stage was Hatebreed. I had never seen them before, but I’ve been a fan of their music for a long time. I’ve heard about their performances being full of energy and the crowd being absolutely nuts. My favorite part about Hatebreed’s songs/performances is how all of their songs are meant for the crowd. Starting with Everyone Bleeds Now, the “die hard” fans as Hatebreed puts it went completely nuts. Throughout their set, vocalist Jamey Jasta had the biggest smile on his face. He, as well as everyone attending the show lnew that Knotfest is something that will be remembered for a long time.

ANTHRAX

ANTHRAX

Anthrax. One of the key elements that make up the legendary big 4. As always, they did not miss a beat. With an extreme amount of crowd interaction they were a huge treat. I’ve noticed that Anthrax tends to not headline the shows. They like the fresh crowds that are before the headliners. Playing a new song of their upcoming album they were a perfect addition to this insane main stage lineup.

I found it a little odd when I heard that Danzig was on right before Slipknot. He’s obviously an older band that isn’t as heavy as some of the others. But now, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Danzig put on one hell of a show. Danzig’s voice did not skip a note. Shockingly heavy with some new stuff as well as old favorites like Mother and Twist of Cain, Danzig’s performance was a perfect opener to the legendary Slipknot.

HELLYEAH

HELLYEAH

DAY 2: Hellyeah, a super group that was formed by the renowned Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray while also including Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, and Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul, they opened the main-stage for Sundays show. Putting on a hell of a performance. With classic tones from the Mudvayne / Pantera days this super-group brings a lot to the table. Again, for an opening band the amphitheater was packed and ready to party.

TECH N9NE

TECH N9NE

TECH N9NE was obviously the odd ones out on the bill. Most people including me were confused as to why a rap group of their nature would be on a metal festival, especially a metal festival of such a high caliber. I’m happy I gave them a chance though because their show was insane! With an extreme amount of energy the crowd was off their feet and jumping for the entire set. They were perfect to get a fans blood flowing for the upcoming acts.

SLIPKNOT

slipknotda1_3Day 1: Slipknot, my favorite band since I was 10 years old. I remember hearing Wait and Bleed for the first time and losing my mind. It had been two years since I’d seen them last and I couldn’t wait for them to come out. After rushing to the front barricade of the crowd I was dead center, about 8 to 10 feet away from the stage, so close in fact that when Slipknot came on I could see the fold marks in Corey’s pants. After rocking out to all of the opening bands and standing in the front for a good 6 hours waiting. The lights finally dropped.

With Slipknot’s new album coming out .5 The Gray Chapter I was wondering what they would open with. Of course, off of my favorite Slipknot album Iowa, the guttural screams of (515) immerse over the crowd and immediately the curtain drops, fire everywhere, the band goes into 2001 hit, People=Shit. I was off the bat shocked that they would open up with a classic being that they just released the new album but I was too busy head banging to think about it thoroughly. As soon as the first note of the song comes on I feel the crowd push forward and the barricade actually moved forward a good foot and a half. I could see the look in the securities eyes of fear. A few of the security guards were actually singing along and head banging.

slipknotday1_5The stage set up was spectacular. A giant goat head on the top center of the stage just above the drum riser, two ramps going up behind the drummer where the band could walk up, as well as Chris Fein and Clowns percussions on either side of the stage. In the far back were huge banners that show the cover of the new album.

All of them still wearing the classic jumpsuits except for the vocalist Corey Taylor who was wearing a bullet proof vest. Also showing on stage was all of their new masks. They were awesome. The only one not wearing his new mask was percussionist Chris Fein who was wearing his red Vol. 3 mask. My personal favorite. Corey’s mask seemed to be giving him issues though because throughout the set he kept adjusting the mouthpiece because it seemed to be affecting his voice being able to project through the mic, but he made it work.

Saturday seemed to be a day of reflection on the old music. Opening up with People=Shit and playing songs they haven’t played in years such as Three Nil and Eeyore. Also playing a few songs off the new album such as The Negative One and one of the heavier songs Custer. Custer was able to get a shocking crowd reaction. With crowd surfers everywhere, Slipknot was truly pushing the crowd and band to its limits. They played the two main classics Wait & Bleed and Spit it Out. I was looking forward to Spit It Out because they do the famous No Bullshit. This is where Corey tells everyone to kneel down, and when he says to “Jump The Fuck UP!” you Jump the fuck UP! Since I was in the very front. I was able to turn around and see an amphitheater full of people kneeled down on the ground. Anticipating the war that was about to erupt.

The live performance of Slipknot on day 1 was astonishing. Playing a mixture of classics and new songs the band truly showed what hell on earth looks like.

slipknotday2_1Day 2: Day two of Slipknot. This time around I decided to stand towards the back of the pit so I could truly see everything. This show the band focused on some of the new songs. opening up with XIX and Sarcastrophe, which are the opening tracks of the new record and playing some newer songs such as The Devil In I and again Custer. They played two different set lists on either night. Which to me was a good thing because I got to see more songs than people only attending one day got to see.

The new members of the band, whoever they may be, were great additions to the mix. They performed very solidly and didn’t miss a beat. It was actually really fun to watch the new drummer as he fit the part very well. He was putting out a lot of emotion just from behind the drums with his style and movement. The fans were given a few special treats on Sunday when the band played two songs they haven’t played since the early days. The songs were Opium of the People of off Vol 3. and My Plague off of Iowa.

The individual members each shined in their own way. Guitar Player Jim Root was spot on. He probably performed, technically, the best out of anyone in the band. Other guitarist Mick Thomson towered over everyone and seemed to never stop head banging. DJ Sid Wilson was not as active as he normally is because he just had surgery. The fans definitely noticed that Sid was trying everything in his power to move but unfortunately, it seemed like he was in pain. But he was still trying his best to be active on stage and his DJing sounded spectacular. Craig Jones was on fire with his samples and percussionist Chris Fein and Clown were going as hard as ever only not only their percussions, but their backing vocals as well.

slipknotday2_4I felt bad for Clown’s drum tech. Slipknot’s percussionists use beer kegs as instruments. Which is one of the things that make Slipknot so unique. As the show goes on the percussion tables rise about 15 feet in the air. Clown tends to take the beer kegs and throw them off from that height. What was funny, was whenever he would throw one off, his drum tech would have to go on stage and put it back on. I counted on a few different occasions, right after he would put it on Clown would take it right back off and throw it at his tech. Clown’s whole persona on stage is a huge highlight to the show. The character or “being” he portrays is absolutely terrifying, but adds to the intensity in a way that nobody else could.

Highwire Daze writer Edward Brandon at Knotfest

Highwire Daze writer Edward Brandon at Knotfest

All in all, there is no real way to describe a Slipknot show. As Slipknot has said for years, Slipknot is not a band it’s an entity. The fans are what brought this show together. Slipknot is a true band of brothers that will live on for years. With an insane amount of chaos, intensity and passion, Slipknot will go down as one of the craziest bands in history. I have never seen a live show that compares to them and never will. I’ve been to shows of every kind. All genres of music. More so, I’ve experienced what the fans are like. Even the new age of metal music cannot relate to how dedicated and true the fans of Slipknot are. It was truly an amazing experience and I hope Knotfest grows into an annual festival because it truly awoke my darkest senses into something I couldn’t even imagine.

(Review and some photos by Edward Brandon – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

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