Slipknot at Ak-Chin Pavilion
Slipknot at Ak-Chin Pavilion 9/5
by Jess Swarner
I survived a Slipknot show.
Then again, I was sitting toward the back of the Ak-Chin Pavilion during the Summer’s Last Stand tour on Saturday night, away from the brutal pits in front of the stage, but returning home without a broken nose still felt like an accomplishment.
I knew the show was going to be a rough one from the moment I saw a large, already inebriated man vomiting outside of the entrance before any bands had even begun playing. That seemed to be a theme throughout the night—many attendees were visibly drunk from the moment doors opened until Slipknot’s last hurrah.
Motionless in White opened the show to a pretty unresponsive crowd, playing metalcore fan favorites “Abigail,” “Devil’s Night,” and the final banger “Reincarnate.” The Marilyn Manson look-alikes from Scranton, PA, played a fun set and managed to amp up energy levels a bit despite the heat and still sunny sky.
Next, Wales metal band Bullet for My Valentine took the stage and turned the sky dark with their wailing guitar solos and opening crowd pleaser “Your Betrayal.” They boasted of their latest album Venom reaching #8 on the Billboard 200 and thanked their fans for getting it there. Veteran rockers Lamb of God were next. As if their music wasn’t intense enough, the group added large screens playing clips of war footage, building demolitions, and nuclear explosions to add to the terrifying ambiance. As the Richmond band wrapped up, the beginnings of a storm rolled through the venue, and the dusty gusts swirling around the headbanging crowd felt like they were summoned by the dark artists on stage. As they ended with “Redneck,” the band had to pause the song while a hurt fan received aid, but they picked right back up and left the crowd breathless.
Finally, after the wind-swept curtain trying to hide the stage was taken down, Slipknot appeared on the most elaborate set I have ever seen. A large lit-up goat’s head loomed over the multi-level stage, featuring a mirror on the second level that reflected the pulsating crowd. Two risers that not only moved vertically but also fully rotated held drum sets. Two large staircases connected in the middle to create some room for the masked members to run up and down and jump from level to level. The entire production was covered in striking lights and pyrotechnics, especially impressive when you consider the heat they were already enduring in their masks and heavy jumpsuit costumes.
The Des Moines heavy metal band covered all of their bases with popular songs “Duality,” “The Heretic Anthem,” and “People=Shit,” as well as newer songs including “The Devil in I” and “Custer” from 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter. The crowd roared consistently at the end of each song, and the most cheering occurred when vocalist Corey Taylor reminded the audience that they are all one big, happy, heavy metal family.
Slipknot last played Ak-Chin in 1999, and Taylor let fans know that they broke the band’s attendance record for the pavilion. Nearby concert goers marveled at how packed the venue was, noting that the crowd for Slayer at the July 3 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival was a fraction of this one.
As the dedication of their fans and the blazing fires on stage reminded us, Slipknot is nowhere near burning out.