Review by Cassandra Hale
It has been a long time coming, we have been waiting patiently, and now the inaugural Knotfest was upon us. The Maggots were festering and ready to burst, the excitement was palpable, the hoards were bouncing on the balls of their feet waiting for those magical gates to swing open and let them the hell in. The colour of the day was black, it came in every possible version with only the odd orange boiler suit thrown in for good measure. Masks were plentiful strapped on with precision in various arrays which were laboriously removed for the id checks on arrival. I bet the owners weren’t quite expecting that! Eager to go hunting for all the hidden gems and scope the lay of the land before Malevolence kicked off the proceedings I set off, and man oh man what a huge area to explore. The trek to the Slipknot Museum and other offerings such as flash tattoos and a cheeky haircut felt like walking between suburbs, the area was vast but did not take long to fill. With plenty to keep you entertained and a massive amount of food options it was a great place to come and chill for those seeking some down time. There was even a tent complete with a wrestling ring which held some pretty feisty matches over the course of the day if you were that way inclined. But for now it was time to get the party started.
Hailing from South Yorkshire, Malevolence hit the stage running, wowing the masses from the first song. I was blown away by these guys. They were super tight and extremely entertaining to watch, and I did not seem to be alone as they amassed people as far as the eye could see. The circle pit made its first appearance and it was rabid, punters so happy to get amongst it. From the outside it looked to be moving at warp speed with people riding on shoulders while making the crazy annulus. A few that caught my attention were Still Waters Run Deep and Self Supremacy, and I will be looking into their back catalogue pronto, these guys were worthy of a spot much higher up the order and set the bar very, very high for the rest of the day.
Melbourne’s Void Of Vision took their place on Stage 2 and I could not believe the early turn out of people, no one wanting to miss one band. They had thousands in front of them as they blasted out their thirty minute set with, singer Jack Bergin pulling out all the stops. With blackened eyes and studded collar, he led the boys as they opened with Into The Dark and I pondered how far they had come since I last saw them. They crammed a lot into their set including HELL HELL HELL and DOMINATRIX and closing out with THE LONELY PEOPLE.
The weather remained favourable after a brief shower early on, but it did not deter a single person as they flowed back to stage one for Melbourne based superstars Alpha Wolf. Opening the pit up instantaneously the boys flew through their set with Hotel Underground being a standout. I could see how overcome they were with the turn out and they seemed humbled on many occasions during their time on stage. Sabian Lynch even taking to the speaker tower to get a bird’s eye view of the crowd. Nearing the end of their stage time they punched orange and white Alpha Wolf beach balls into the pit which were happily pounded around for the duration of the set. I was left well impressed by these guys and if you are yet to check them out get on it stat!
Making a dash to try and find a shortened line at any of the four merch counters proved impossible, they were one hundred deep at every one, disheartened I vowed to try again later and headed back to catch the end of Knocked Loose. This Kentucky based five-piece had a huge crowd in front of them as they ploughed through their set including Dead Ringer and Counting Worms. After being around for ten years they have certainly earned their spot and were eager to entertain, singer Bryan Garris bringing his energy to the forefront. One that definitely took me by surprise was Spiritbox, this Canadian outfit instantly grabbed your attention and held it for the duration of their set. Singer and founding member Courtney LePlante engaging with fans as they powered through with a set of eight including Yellowjacket, Rule of Nines and Hysteria. I can see why their sideshows sold out in minutes; these guys kicked serious arse.
Story Of The Year were earning their spot on stage 2 as the sets grew slightly longer and they threw in a quickfire 9 songs. The mosh was piping up and fans were surfing across the top with vigour. Hailing from Missouri these guys have been around a while and knew how to entertain the swelling masses treating us to We Don’t Care Anymore, Tear Me To Pieces and In The Shadows to name a few. Closing out he set with Until The Day I Die leaving the fans fully satisfied and ready to mix it up with InFlames. Hot off their sideshow with Megadeth these Swedish megastars had the punters in a frenzy, the mosh circling like their life depended on it. With a terrific span of songs on their setlist the fans were awash with happiness and had their heads banging in approval as Cloud Connected, Only For The Weak and State of Slow Decay were among the treats provided. The punters more like the walking wounded as they slammed over the barrier, many hobbling for help as they were dragged and dumped. But that is the nature of the beast and if you can’t handle the heat get out of the damn kitchen. It was at this point that a wheelchair was raised in the crowd much to singer Anders surprise, but hell, this is Knotfest so anything goes! It would be a sin not to mention Chris Broderick who was shredding up a storm, it was so awesome to see him having so much fun onstage and engaging with the fans, and while I may have been distracted briefly by his bulging biceps I tried to stay focused as they closed out with Take This Life.
Viking heavyweights Amon Amarth have a following like no other and it would be a sin to miss their set for the spectacle alone. It takes you on a historical journey, their songs forged in time, flying Thor’s flag as they navigated through passages of history with vigour and conviction. Guardians Of Asgaard, Deceiver Of The Gods and The Pursuit Of Vikings turning up the heat. As expected, Put You Back Into The Oar saw the heathen army take a seat and ‘row, row, row’ if you are yet to see this in action please add it to your bucket list it is quite the spectacle. The masses raised cardboard swords and shields which did not go unnoticed by singer Johan Hegg, their dedication unwavering. I did see one man in full Viking regalia complete with fur and I was impressed by his enthusiasm.
Northlane really did bring the heat as they turned it up to 11, our own Aussie bands stacking up with the international superstars with ease. The mania had well and truly descended as they opened with Clarity and Plenty. The stage set with LED screens from which the drum riser nestled in between, creating a terrific stage dynamic. The hoards not messing around as a wall of death was quickly established, leaving the weak to fend for themselves as the craziness arrived. Cypher, Clockwork and Bloodline all worthy additions as these boys from Blacktown were overwhelmed by the scene in front of them. Closing out with Talking Heads the boys were well spent and had earned a cold refreshment, but there was none of that for the punters who were back to it with the mighty Trivium. Anyone who has seen these guys in action knows exactly what is in store, these guys play hard and instantly turned the heat metre to 100. Matt Heafy had a smile for miles, his face ever expressive as they worked through an impressive set including Rain, Feast of Fire and Down From The Sky. The pits were intensifying which each band and they took on a pulse of their own as Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr rang out, it was Trivium’s fourteenth trip to Australia and gauging the crowd response it definitely won’t be the last.
Stalwarts of thrash metal and members of The Big Four, the highly anticipated Megadeth’s time had come. The chants of ‘Megadeth’ started long before they hit the stage, the thrash army pumped and ready to mosh. The intro to Prince Of Darkness got the juices flowing as the band unleashed with Hangar 18, Dread And The Fugitive Mind and Angry Again. Dave Mustaine in peak form and smashing out all the hits with ease. Kiko Loureiro working the stage with ease his guitar shredding exemplary, it was such a joy to watch him at work, he owned the stage and boy can he play a guitar! Their stage also came complete with LED screens and an elevated drum riser giving a terrific view of Dirk Verbeuren as he smashed the skins to within an inch of his life. James LoMenzo is the god of bass and so much fun to watch on stage, his crowd engagement is undying giving every fan an up-close experience. Symphony Of Destruction with its signature intro set fans into a frenzy and made them hungry for more. But would any Megadeth show be complete without a quick appearance from Vic Rattlehead, of course not. Peace Sells was the song when he staggered out and the punters went crazy, taking the mosh up a level and saluting this iconic mascot. There was only one song the fans wanted to finish out the set and it had to be Holy Wars, a Megadeth classic and one that left an air of contentment across the smiling faces of the pit.
Parkway Drive is a household name worldwide these days, the boys have worked ridiculously hard to forge their place in the music industry and it is now paying off in spades. Their show is a spectacle to behold and I can not begin to describe the size of the crowd that had amassed, there was literally thousands upon thousands as far as the eye could see. A sea of people moving as one so eager to regain their lost years of music and soak up every minute on offer. They don’t get much bigger in Australia than Parkway Drive and they delivered a show with every bell and whistle and then some. It had flames, it had pryo, it had smoke, it even had a drone taking in all the action. Winston McCall a born entertainer, had the crowd eating out of his hand as the band worked through their hour and a quarter set, including Glitch, Carrion and Vice Grip to name a few, his graciousness was unending to the fans and his face showed his happiness all night. The addition of strings lifted the show to new heights, the violin and cello setting a sunning scene as the sun set over Flemington Racecourse. Winston returned shirtless to start a few hearts racing as they finished out with Crushed and Wild Eyes, flames blasting off every place possible and warming up the quickly cooling venue.
The time had come to honour the name’s sake of the festival itself, Slipknot. The build-up had been one of gargantuan proportions, selling out every show in Australia, the fans voting with their hard earned desperate to see their musical heroes. It has been a long wait six years in fact, the maggot family reunited and ready to raise hell. Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 played briefly before the AC/DC classic For Those About To Rock stilled the fans, tension was palpable the giant Slipknot banner waving in the wind across the stage, as it dropped Flemington Racecourse exploded. Disasterpiece, Wait And Bleed, and All Out Life got pulses racing and the collective mosh bouncing. Corey Taylor demanded your attention and every eye was on him as fan fave, Sulfur rang out, the stage a mass of impressive screens and lighting, flame throwers rocking the night sky. The show briefly halted while one bozo tried his luck climbing a speaker tower, but the problem was quickly rectified, and the show went on without a hitch. The stage having the trademark Slipknot drum set up on either side raised high to give everyone a perfect viewing platform while the main kit took pride of place. Psychosocial left the hoards panting along with Duality and Custer which just formed a small part of the blistering setlist. Spit It Out took the show to new levels as we all got ready to get low and hold until our preacher Corey ‘mother fucking’ Taylor told us to ‘jump the fuck up’ it was surreal moment and one that always brings the chills with it. The hold he had over the thousands was masterful to watch, the power he held in his hands mind blowing. After a quick trip off stage the night was complete with People = Shit and Surfacing what a way to finish of the most amazing day, Corey constantly thanking the fans for their unwavering support, his appreciation paramount all night.
As the war-wounded and weary made their way from the stage, their faces tired, their bodies feeling every bit their age I know with all certainty they would jump back in the pit to do it all again without a moment’s hesitation. The sound, the lighting and effects made the festival what it was, kudos to all involved your dedication and attention to detail made for a wonderful experience and it did not go unnoticed.
Knotfest Australia 2023 was a resounding success, congratulations to each and every person involved, you brought so much joy to the fans and gave them memories to cherish for a lifetime. Now we wait with bated breath until next time……
Amon Amarth, Trivium & Malevolence will be back on stage at the very first KNOTFEST AUSTRALIA kicking off today in Melbourne!
KNOTFEST AUSTRALIA 2023
Slipknot | Parkway Drive | Megadeth | Trivium | Northlane | Amon Amarth
In Flames Knocked Loose | Spiritbox | Story Of The Year | Alpha Wolf
Void Of Vision | Bad Omens | Malevolence
DATES AND VENUES:
Friday 24 March 2023 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne SOLD OUT
Saturday 25 March 2023 – Centennial Park, Sydney SOLD OUT
Sunday 26 March 2023 – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane SOLD OUT
Information available at destroyalllines.com
March 24th, 2023 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Saturday 25 March 2023 – Centennial Park, Sydney
Sunday 26 March 2023 – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane