By Danny Contreras
“We’re more than just a band and its fans. We’re family,” said Corey Taylor in between songs, pumping the Comcast Theatre crowd.
Slipknot closed Rockstar Energy Drink’s Mayhem Festival after The Meadows were battered by a thunderstorm. Heavy metal cannot describe the intensity of this festival. The two smaller stages contained some of the leading acts in the industry with Dirtfedd, As I Lay Dying and whitechapel opening a chaotic day.
Danger filled the day. Amidst the heavy crowd, rain poured throughout, and the audience had to seek shelter due to an impending thunderstorm, with cloud to ground lightning, slowly making its way to Hartford.
Slipknot took the stage at 9:15 PM, following a Satanic set by metal gods, Slayer. Thrash pumped everyone in the crowd up before a video with Anthrax’s Scott Ian asking: “are you ready, maggots?” the endearing term by which Slipknot refers to its fans. And how could anyone argue otherwise when bodies just amassed everywhere in the Comcast Theatre?
Opening with “(sic)” Slipknot got down and dirty from the beginning. Dropped tuned guitars machine gunned for fifteen minutes as they made their way through their earlier songs. “Wait and Bleed” played fourth; the crowd echoing Corey Taylor’s melodic voice, as the extra percussion provided by Shawn and Chris, thundered along with the light show nature provided the audience.
The band wore red jumpsuits similar to the ones they wore during Iowa. The masks had changed for about 50% of the band members, with half of them wearing their Vol. 3 get ups, and the other wearing masks from the self-titled and All Hope is Gone.
Midway through their fourteen song set, a dark interlude akin of gothic metal bands lowered the intensity and gave the band the chance to sing one of their darker songs, “Gently.” Dropping from above, white confetti mimicked fragments of skin which glistened with the yellow and purple lights. Corey dropped his microphone and kneeled, yelling low notes from a short distance to the microphone. Sid withdrew himself from the throng and sampled distorted voices. The demons had been summoned. “Gently” transitioned into “Vermillion.” Obsessions were burned on the pyre as the creepy chorus was sang by the audience and the band members: “She isn’t real. I can’t make her real.”
Then, everyone present had to face a daunting, painful memory: the death of Paul Gray, a founding member, and bassist. The background changed to reflect his number, #2. The air stood still, and the audience knew why. Chaos incarnate was only words away. “I push my fingers into my eyes,” and the crowd sang along in memory of Gray. Reminiscent of the music video, “Duality” started with slow moving audience members ready to tear everything apart. People started hugging each other, arm in arms, swaying to a decaying rhythm, the only thing that made all the maggots feel part of the Slipknot family. This wasn’t just a concert. This was a ritual—a rite of passage for fans because doing this “is the only that slowly stops the ache.”
Unfortunately, things had to come to an end. But still, this whole concert, the very first one in Hartford since Paul Gray’s death, needed to end with the exorcising of demons and so the best way to honor a man, and save ourselves from personal destruction was to “Spit it Out.”
In search of a concert record, Taylor commanded every audience and band member to get down on the ground. A grenade had been thrown and we needed to avoid it by “jumping the f*ck up.” And we all obediently agreed. He rapped his way through the chorus, then the bridge, then he commanded us to jump. That split second of clean air, felt like a realization of a dream. And right after everyone headbanged.
And while it may have been an amazing ending, the band needed to get a message straight. A message of solidarity: you’re not alone, and you will get through it. “People = S#!T,” and “Surfacing” played after as conclusions to an epic journey. What a blissful moment.
The sky lit up to the voices of the fans and the band members. The ecstasy had run its course, and coming down felt bad. This is one thing one can experience every day; a dangerous drug with everlasting side effects. But one that we cannot blame addicts for choosing. This band provided an escape for all its fans. And before the band said good-bye, Corey needed to warn everyone. Warn the world that things, no matter how bad they seemed, “were just beginning.” Oh, 2013 will be a great year for maggots.