Venue: Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater (Wantaugh, NY)
Opener: Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat
Label: Roadrunner Records
The mega-concert event known as “The Knotfest Roadshow” was rumbling through cities of these United States and laying waste to anything that stood in its way. One could not expect anything less from a touring package that brought together bands like Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat who lead off the day before a crushing/thrilling/energetic set by the one and only Slipknot. The weather report was on the grim side which made the long haul out to Wantaugh in Long Island a bit of a bother as the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater venue is an outdoor space but once sufficiently prepped and packed for the adventure I girded myself properly for a sure to be fun time. The show started early, and I mean 5:30 early which was the slot held by Behemoth and there was no way that I was missing them so here is how their set and the rest of the event took place.
Behemoth: Now according to my concert playbook, I have caught Behemoth a few times over the last couple of years and I didn’t mind this at all since I absolutely love what they do on the stage. It was going to be interesting to see the Metal Blade artist in the daylight this afternoon and with their hitting the stage at this early a time if you were stuck in that Long Island traffic you were not going to catch them at all since they were only going to give us about a thirty minute set. After a brief audio playback, the incendiary might that is Behemoth were on the stage and sporting the masks one would see during a full headlining set. Though this was to be a brief performance the band was on fire and quite literally as jets of flame shot from the rear of stage while singer Nergal also brought some out and offered up some homage to the Dark Gods at one point. To say that they crushed would be an understatement and since this was really early the venue was not yet full so far too many people missed a really overpowering set. I cannot wait to catch this band when they headline or co-headline with another superpower in the future. Gojira was coming up next.
Gojira: Now its been a few years since I’ve seen Gojira and I am not entirely sure how that ended up being the case since I’ve been rallying behind them since I first heard their debut album on Prosthetic Records, but I digress. The daylight was still above us and that’s fine for this kind of band since they don’t do elaborate costumes or overly dramatic presentations. For Gojira its all about the crush and it was without question that they delivered this on all fronts. The bands most “recent” album comes via 2015’s “Magma” and their set would feature three tracks from the release which included the Grammy nominated “Silvera”. Gojira is comprised of the Duplantier brothers (Joe and Mario) along with Christian Andreu and Jean-Michel Labadie. Though a French band, they have called New York their home for many years. I should also add that Mario is one of the most thundering drummers that I have witnessed in years with a level of power that makes this music all the more powerful. Soon it would be time for Volbeat to bring their sound to life and so far the rain that was experienced on the ride to Long Island had pretty much subsided minus the brief “spraying”. I could live with that I guess.
Gojira Set List: Toxic Garbage Island, Backbone, Stranded, Flying Whales, Love, The Cell, Silvera, The Gift of Guilt
Volbeat: I had to say that I was loving every minute of this show so far since not only are all of the bands profound at what they do, but I am also a fan of each of them and since I had not seen Volbeat in a couple of years was very much looking forward to their set. Now I am also fortunate enough to take pictures from close quarters based on running this musical outlet for 14 years and as we headed into the pit area noticed it was 2-3 inches deep in water. Yeah the high tide had rolled in and with the stage not far from the nearby surf, me, the fellow media and all of the fans on that level were standing in the ocean. This made navigation slightly tough but once Volbeat hit the stage there were other things to pay mind to and the main thing was their exciting brand of music. As it stands I’ve been behind the music of Volbeat for the past 10 years or so despite their having two albums before “Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood” even came out. They once opened for the Nightwish tour and it was the way that many USA Metalheads first learned about them. Fronted since the beginning by singer/guitarist Michael Poulsen, the band has had a few shifts in the lineup as far as bass and guitar with one of the smarter moves being the inclusion of former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano. Rob is a super talented player that brings a new level of awesome to the group and he’s been doing so for six years now. So they hit the ground running tonight which was expected but since we are around the 10th anniversary of the album that broke them here I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more of a focus on those tunes.
Sure they have a brand-new release in “Rewind, Replay, Rebound” and would deliver three tracks from this one, but I think they should bring back songs like “We” and “Maybelline” for a sense of nostalgia in their fans. Now you probably realize that Volbeat music is far different from the other bands on the bill and while I can agree to this I also felt it changed the dynamic and kept the night all the more interesting. They always seem to sound great and their songs move forward with a nice energy that doesn’t find you bored at any point in time. There is nothing tedious about a Volbeat set at all and we should probably expect a full-scale headlining tour in the not too distant future. Now it was time to gird our Metal selves for the mayhem to come – the arrival of Slipknot.
Slipknot: By the time it had come for Slipknot, the rainy mist had moved along and the tide went back to where it belonged (meaning not where all the fans were standing) which was a welcome relief. To say that the air was charged with a sense of electricity would be an understatement and the vibe of this just increased by the minute as the collective throngs in the audience waited for the stage long banner with the bands name to drop before they unleashed into their performance. I was excited as well because it seemed by the calculations that I had not seen Slipknot in action for a few years as well with the last time around being in this very amphitheater. I’ve only managed to catch them in concert two times before this evening for some reason or another and was glad to be on point for this amazing thing they called “Knotfest”. Once the intro had played and the curtain drawn it was immediate chaos as the band broke into their seminal “People = Shit” and for those who have never witnessed such a group in concert, I can only say that it keeps you on your feet and screaming at the top of your lungs.
Historically speaking the group now consists of only one single founding member in Shawn Crahan and instead of the full “9” in the command of players there are “8”. Fronted by the master showman Corey Taylor, the band is sporting new masks for the album cycle of “We Are Not Your Kind” and to be completely honest it is like watching a finely tuned hurricane happening on the stage. It’s true and if you are in the audience you will find your eyes unable to focus on a single happening because while one of the DJ’s is on a moving platform like you would use to exercise, the two percussionists are rising and lowering on either side of the stage. As a Master of Ceremonies, Taylor is top drawer and commands both the actions behind him in the band and the throngs of supporters in their rabid fanbase. Corey would speak to the crowd often this evening and say that he viewed it as the swampiest place in New York. The rain earlier almost found the show being pushed back or even cancelled and he was glad that the group didn’t need to do this since this is all family and they’d been coming there for many, many years. The crowd responded in kind to his every word with ear deafening screams and rolling over the small barrier between the stage into the waiting arms of the on-point security. Those cats sure deserved some applause themselves for keeping everyone safe once they went over the rail.
The set list was nothing less than comprehensive this evening with classics from their earlier years to the newest stuff and while I didn’t actually have the last couple of albums in my possessions this didn’t prevent me from enjoying every second of the show. When all was said and done I had to say that I was exhausted. It was a super long day but also an exhilarating one when it came down to it. Slipknot is truly one of the best live bands on the planet, and I am saying this as a lifelong fan of the legendary KISS who always manage to pull out all the stops for their shows. Kudos on a tour well assembled Slipknot. You’ve really left your fans breathless with this one and gave them moments that they will be talking about for weeks. This show was pretty late in the touring cycle but at the time of my posting the narrative about it, there are several dates left and you should check against your own locality HERE to see if there is a chance to catch this Heavy Metal spectacle. I’ve also included a number of the recent works by all four of the performers this evening that you can purchase on Amazon.com
Here’s some of the cool fans that we snapped photos of during the show.
Volbeat Set List:
1. The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
2. Lola Montez
3. Sad Man’s Tongue @Info[preceded by a verse of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash]
4. Black Rose
5. The Everlasting
6. Slaytan @Info[with “South of Heaven” intro by Slayer]
7. Dead but Rising
8. A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
9. Last Day Under the Sun
10. Pelvis on Fire
11. Seal the Deal
12. Still Counting
Slipknot Set List:
1. People = Shit
3. Get This
5. Before I Forget
6. Solway Firth
7. The Heretic Anthem
9. The Devil in I
12. Wait and Bleed
14. All Out Life
16. Spit It Out
18. ‘Til We Die @Tape