TVD Live: Knotfest Roadshow with Slipknot, Volbeat, Gojira, and Behemoth at the Glen Helen Amphitheater, 7/27

With nearly 40,000 in attendance and temps exceeding 100 degrees at showtime, the 2019 Knotfest Roadshow was everything I wanted going into the show and more. It’s as if they pulled the very best from their previous festival formats and ignited it simultaneously at America’s largest outdoor amphitheater. It will definitely go down as one of the best live metal shows I have ever seen.

I have attended a lot of shows in my lifetime, but Saturday’s Knotfest Roadshow might have been one of my all-time favorites. What was billed as “A Mind-Altering Collision of Music, Art & Culture” ended up being so much more for the tens-of-thousands that braved sweltering heat, parking lot hikes, and extremely long lines on Saturday afternoon at Glen Helen Amphitheater.

Typically, festival-type shows like this bring in 2 or 3 bands to fill space prior to the headliner taking the stage. That was not the case at this year’s Knotfest Roadshow. Slipknot went all-in to bring out the very best money could buy, landing international metal sensations Behemoth (Poland), Gojira (France), and Volbeat (Denmark) to round out the bill. On paper, this one looked too good to be true and I was wondering walking in if it would live up to the hype. We would soon see.

As the sun began to set and heat began to dissipate, black metal legends Behemoth took the stage and kicked off this year’s roadshow with a thundering set that conjured up demons throughout the San Bernardino Valley. Nergal, Inferno, Orion, and Seth challenged the masses with a set so diabolical that it caused many to question their own faith when the dust finally settled. Songs such as “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” and “Chant for Eschaton 2000” whipped the faithful into a frenzy from which there was no going back and signified the start of something special under the stars on Saturday.

Next up was Gojira. If fans were hoping to get a reprieve after visiting the depths of hell with Behemoth, they were sadly mistaken. Brother’s Joe and Mario Duplantier, Christian Andreu, and Jean-Michel Labadie took it to a whole new level and solidified their meteoric rise on the international metal scene with a set so heavy my ears may have bled. Joe Duplantier’s vocals were from another world, and when combined with the sheer musical talent of Andreu on guitar, Michel-Labadie on bass, and Mario Duplantier on drums, fans got to see firsthand how gifted this band actually is.

Third up on the Knottfest Roadshow docket was none other than the crown princes of Denmark, Volbeat. Founded in Copenhagen in 2001, this quartet has been astonishing crowds around the world with their unique brand of music—integrating rock, metal, and rockabilly into one cohesive sound that is truly unique in this day and age.

Taking a few moments to watch Michael Poulsen on stage, you’d think he was possessed with Elvis Presley’s spirit and magic. Add Rob Caggiano’s stellar guitar work, Kasper Boye Larsen’s bass chops, and the sheer madness of Jon Larsen’s drumming, and you were in for one heck of a performance. I could have watched these guys all night, but unfortunately it had to come to an end with “Still Counting” off of 2008’s Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood. And as I was “Counting all the assholes in the room…” it became time for fans to prepare for main event of this year’s Knotfest Roadshow, the mighty Slipknot.

Now, I must preface the final part of this review by noting that I have never seen Slipknot live. Don’t get me wrong, I love the band and have followed them for years. It’s just that the stars have never aligned for me to see one of their live performances—until now. As the long line of photographers entered the photo pit, I looked out across the crowd and it was literally packed from the pit to the far reaches atop of the amphitheater. Fires seemed to be burning in the general admission grass area, and as one was put out another would erupt almost simultaneously. Standard faire for Glen Helen shows, and even more so when Slipknot is involved.

At 9:30pm, just after twilight had ended, the all too familiar sound of ACDC’s “For Those About to Rock” assaulted the now sold-out amphitheater as loyal fans sang along in sheer ecstasy. As the song came to an end, the giant “Slipknot” banner (which had been concealing Glen Helen’s stage area) finally dropped. The crowd erupted, and Slipknot finally took their rightful place on stage and brought the Knotfest Roadshow to a whole new level, opening their set with “People=Shit.”

I’m glad I was in the barricade area, because the crowd surged forward as Slipknot got underway and I was seriously concerned that someone might get crushed in the mayhem that would ensue. Prior to the third song, Corey Taylor literally stopped the show to help authorities regain control of what could have turned out to be a dangerous situation. “Back the fuck up—no one is getting hurt on my fucking watch… do you understand me?!” Taylor’s rebuke seemed to have worked. The crowd retreated, fans were safe, and the show continued on in fine Slipknot form.

Over the next 2 hours, Corey Taylor and Slipknot annihilated the Glen Helen Amphitheater with a 17-song set that pushed the boundaries of what could actually be possible at a live metal show. Crazy masks, fire, keg drums and numerous “crowd-surfing” wheelchairs—the show goes to a whole new level. To me, this is the way a metal show should be.

As all good things must come to an end, so must the 2019 Knotfest Roadshow. After a few well-deserved moments off stage, Slipknot wrapped up the set with a two-song encore consisting of “Spit It Out” and “Surfacing.” I love these songs and they seemed to do the trick for the near 40,ooo in attendance on Saturday night as well. Walking back to my car, drenched in sweat, only one thing came to mind a wild night of metal mayhem… “This show was unfucking believable!”

BEHEMOTH

GORJIRA

VOLBEAT

SLIPKNOT

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