August 12, 2016 Chicago Open Air Goes Out With A Bang Bridgeview, IL 7-17-16
With so much transpiring in the first two days of Chicago Open Air, on day three violent storms rolled through Bridgeview, Illinois in the early morning hours. Lightning, thunder, and heavy rain drenched the town as festival goers prepared for the worst. Add to that the cancellation of Asking Alexandria, due to visa issues that kept them from entering the United States, and day three got off to a rough start. Nonetheless, there was plenty to look forward to with a slew of Metal bands from all over the spectrum ready to bring a rainbow to the raining beginnings.
Opening up the second stage was Los Angeles, California based Gemini Syndrome bringing on their own brand of Alternative Metal. Formed in 2010, the band’s 2013 debut album, Lux, received acclaimed reviews. Now in 2016, they are set to follow-up with Memento Mori as of August 19th. Lead Singer Aaron Nordstrom, white dreads falling around his shoulders, surveyed the Sunday morning crowd to say, “Day 3 and you motherfuckers are still here before noon! I’m impressed!” Responding with a cheer, Brian Steele Medina then pounded the drums as Bassist Alessandro Paveri and newest Guitarists Daniel Sahagún and Charles Lee Salvaggio began “Pleasure and Pain.” Welcoming Gemini Syndrome with energy and movement in the pit, many concert goers’ fists were in the air as the band followed with “Resurrection” and “Basement.” Anxious to hear new music from the band, that came when the guys offered up “Eternity,” “Anonymous,” and “Remember We Die,” all from the forthcoming Memento Mori, to mass approval. Closing out their set strong with hit single “Stardust,” Gemini Syndrome impressed all those that made it out early as they continue their rise.
Upon A Burning Body
Next on the agenda at the second stage was Sumerian Record’s own Upon A Burning Body. Based out of The Lone Star state of Texas, after the release of their demo and Genocide EP in 2005, the band went on to produce the full-length albums The World Is Ours in 2010, Red. White. Green. in 2012, and The World Is My Enemy Now in 2014. Comfortable within the festival atmosphere, judging from their history at Vans Warped Tour and Rockstar Energy Drink’s Mayhem Festival, Upon a Burning Body were ready to rattle Chicago Open Air.
Vocalist Danny Leal, Guitarist Ruben Alvarez, Bassist Rey Martinez, and Drummer Tito Felix approached the stage with high energy, and as a result, quickly took over the crowd. Leal moved wildly across the platform as the band ran through “Sin City” before the singer called for a circle pit, telling them, “You know what to do!” The crowd eagerly obeyed and during “Texas Blood Money” Leal brought out festival host and SiriusXM DJ Jose Mangin and the two united to crush the crowd together. From here, the rabid audience did whatever was asked of them as the band got ready to play their final song, a cover of DJ Snake’s “Turn Down For What.” Demanding more, Leal requesting all ladies to get up on the shoulders of their men and make some noise. It was barely 1 PM, yet Upon a Burning Body were able to motivate the massive crowd at will, very impressive.
We Came as Romans
Keeping everyone at the second stage, Michigan’s We Came as Romans were ready to go. Formed in 2005, after numerous lineup changes and four studio albums, including their most recently self-titled release in 2015, We Came as Romans are continuing their steady rise.
With Joshua Moore on lead guitar, Dave Stephens on unclean vocals, Eric Choi on drums, Lou Cotton on rhythm guitar, Andy Glass on bass guitar, and Kyle Pavone’s clean vocals/keyboards, the collective took to the second stage where anxious fans awaited. Known for double vocal assaults, Stephens and Pavone combined for powerful clean and harsh singing during “Regenerate” and “Fade Away” before inspiring the crowd to sing along with every word to “Ghosts.” Not letting up, “Tear It Down,” “12:30,” and “Tracing Back Roots” had the crowd jumping up and down without a care. Concluding the performance with “The World I Used To Know” and “Hope,” We Came as Romans delivered a set with positive messages and catchy singable choruses that had everyone’s attention from start to finish. Recently signed with new label SharpTone Records, We Came as Romans find themselves in good company with a roster featuring Attila and Miss May I. That being said, the future looks bright for the band.
Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy
Meanwhile, the first act to open the main stage on day three was Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy. A well-respected Comedian, Actor, New York Mets fans, and Heavy Metal lover, Breuer is quite an endearing personality. Best known for his time on Saturday Night Live, Breuer has also appeared in numerous films and television shows over the years, rocked Stand-Up Comedy, and is currently the host of his own podcast. No stranger to the road, as a touring Comedian he is familiar with the lifestyle, but Breuer has always dreamed of fronting a Metal band. Thankfully, that dream came true with the release of his debut album, Songs from the Garage via Metal Blade Records. More than just a novelty, Breuer was amped to show this Chicago crowd what he had to offer.
Along with Breuer on vocals, Guitarist Mike Tichy, Bassist Joe Vigliotti, and Drummer Eric See took the stage marking the first-ever live performance of the band. Eager to get things going, Breuer addressed the crowd asking if they were ready before blasting into the up tempo rocker “Thrash.” A mix of ’80s Heavy Metal and parody, Breuer’s comedic side came through in his music, but this is not to say he cannot sing, because he most certainly proved he could. When the first song was over, he thanked the crowd adding, “That was our first song ever live. Who said Rock is Dead?” Embracing Breuer and his talented band, the crowd were engaged as they listened to tracks such “Mr. Rock n Roll,” “Be a Dick 2nite,” “Raising Teenage Girls,” and “Old School.” Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy are no joke and they delivered a solid set and really captured the heart of all Metal fans in attendance.
Heading back on the second stage, crowds found the red hot letlive. Lead Singer Jason Butler, Bassist Ryan Jay Johnson, Guitarist Jeff Sahyoun, and Drummer Loniel Robinson make up this band from Los Angeles, California who formed in 2002. Unique from other bands on the scene, letlive. have made an impact with their very interesting mix of Punk, Hardcore, and Soul. Releasing Speak Like You Talk in 2005, Fake History in 2010, The Blackest Beautiful in 2013, and most recently, If I’m the Devil… this year, letlive. only seem to be growing in popularity. Currently touring the world in support of their aforementioned new album, letlive. were excited to return to Chicago after a visit on last year’s summer tour supporting Killswitch Engage and Rise Against.
Wasting little time, they went right into the heavy “Banshee;” a track laced with a Funk vibe. Robinson provided the feel as Butler moved rapidly across the stage, jumping from amps while pumping up the crowd and igniting the pit during “The Dope Beat.” In the groove, Butler surfed atop the crowd as he sang. Once back on stage, he addressed everyone and warned them to open their eyes and shut their fucking mouths, referring to the state of our government. With that, the band blasted through “Reluctantly Dead” and “27 Club.” During “Renegade 86′,” Butler was missing from the stage. Looking to see where the vocalist went, once found, he was singing high atop the Chicago Open Air sign above the stage to many’s surprise. Returning to the stage, he encouraged the pit to keep moving as the band wrapped things up with “Good Mourning, America.” Different and compelling to watch, letlive. provided a highly entertaining show with a groovy heavy brand of Metal bound to attract a broad audience.
All That Remains
Just before 2 PM, back at the main stage, fans waited for the veteran outfit All That Remains. One of the original bands from the talented New England Metalcore scene that arose during the late ’90s, All That Remains have pumped out one powerful record after another, including 2015’s The Order of Things. Combining clean, melodic vocals with screams and growls, catchy choruses with heavy breakdowns, and double bass drums to form their unique style, All That Remains have become a well-respected Heavy Metal band; one which transcends a sub-genre label. The band has enjoyed a solid lineup since 2006, until very recently bringing in Bassist Aaron Patrick to replace longtime Bassist Jeanne Sagan.
Creating a mood from the start, Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” played over the sound system as the crowd geared up for All That Remains. Then after the dramatic opening, they erupted as the keyboard intro opened “This Probably Won’t End Well.” One by one, Drummer Jason Costa, Vocalist Philip Labonte, Guitarists Oli Herbert and Mike Martin, and Bassist Aaron Patrick appeared to ruckus applause. Inspiring everyone to move, “Stand Up” and “The Last Time” were next, and amid the chaos, fans floated on the hands of those in the crowd. This included an unlikely mother/daughter combo, one where mom clutched her young daughter as they were carried to the stage. This aside, Labonte moved across the stage quickly leading the crowd through the choruses of “Six,” “What If I Was Nothing?,” “This Calling,” and “Two Weeks.” Tight musically and most of all writing impeccable melodic Metal compositions, All That Remains kept the crowd singing and surfing all set long.
Corrosion of Conformity
Back on the second stage, veteran rockers Corrosion of Conformity were next as a mass of people gathered. Formed in 1982 down in Raleigh, North Carolina, C.O.C. enjoyed success throughout the years, first, with 1984’s Eye for an Eye, 1985’s Animosity, and 1992’s Blind. All this brought them major label attention, thus resulting in their signing with Columbia records in 1993 and the release of their biggest record to date, 1994’s Deliverance. Subsequent albums also found success, but in 2006, the band went on hiatus, leaving fans to wonder if they would ever see them again. Returning in 2010, and then reuniting with Guitarist/Vocalist Pepper Keenan in 2014, C.O.C. is firing on all cylinders once again.
Keenan, Guitarist Woody Weatherman, Bassist Mike Dean, and Drummer Reed Mullin arrived to chants of “C.O.C.!” before Dean began “Bottom Feeder” with a thick bass line. Keenan addressed Chi Town, thanking them for coming out before everyone slowly banged their heads to the chunky, Blues Metal washing over them as the band jammed out “Vote With a Bullet,” “Seven Days,” and “Who’s Got the Fire.” Keenan and his bandmates engaged the masses with long jams featuring guitar and bass solo mixed with aggressive Heavy Metal. Ending it all, they closed with mega hits “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds” as the crowd sang along and moved to the Sludge-like atmosphere. That said, Corrosion of Conformity represented heavy Blues Metal proudly to this enthusiastic crowd.
Bullet For My Valentine
Keeping the day going strong, Welsh Heavy Metal band Bullet for My Valentine claimed the main stage, looking to turn up the heat on an already brutally hot day. Bridgend, Wales, United Kingdom is the place where in 1998, Matthew “Matt” Tuck (vocals/guitar), Michael “Padge” Paget (guitar/vocals), and Michael “Moose” Thomas (drums) put the band in motion. Recently adding Jamie Mathias on bass guitar/vocals in 2015, Bullet for My Valentine offered one of their heaviest albums to date in the form of Venom. Experiencing tremendous success with each of their five albums, Venom was accompanied by a US and headlining UK tour. Now, keeping the momentum going, they would be appearing at Wacken Open Air Festival in early August, but not before tearing up Chicago Open Air.
Aggressive, and going for blood, they jumped into “No Way Out” followed by the drilling hit “Your Betrayal.” Tuck took a moment to welcome and thank everyone for coming to see their set at the first ever Chicago Open Air Festival. Adding “We don’t have a lot of time on this stage, so this is probably the last time we will have a little bit of a bonding moment. So if you don’t mind we’ll just carry on and play some fucking Heavy Metal if that’s cool.” Agreeing completely with Tuck’s sentiment, the audience erupted as the band went into “4 Words (To Choke Upon)” while Mathias added screams to the cleaner vocals of Tuck. Letting the Metal fury flow, “You Want a Battle?” saw a steady stream of crowd-surfers moving toward the stage and beach balls bouncing everywhere as the party continued with “Scream Aim Fire,” “Tears Don’t Fall,” and “Waking the Demon.” All killer and no filler, Bullet For My Valentine packed their set with wall to wall Metal, giving fans exactly what they were looking for.
Co-headlining the second stage, Japan’s BABYMETAL were met by a massive following. Creating quite a buzz since over the last few years, BABYMETAL consist of three young female vocalists known as Su-Metal,Yuimetal, Moametal. Performing choreographed dance moves closely tied to a Heavy Metal soundtrack provided by a high caliber group of musicians called Kami Band, made up of Takayoshi Ohmura on guitar, Mikio Fujioka on guitar, Boh on bass, and Hideki Aoyama on drums, BABYMETAL is quite a unique entity. Clearly something different than what North America is used to, BABYMETAL has provoked generally positive reactions as they continue their world dominance following the release of their sophomore album, Metal Resistance, earlier this year.
As the enormous crowd descended upon the second stage to get a look at the phenomenon, the intro told the story of BABYMETAL. A theatrical sensation, it opened with “A long time ago in a Heavy Metal galaxy far, far away… …Now it is time for Metal resistance with BABYMETAL!” Feeling like a videogame, the intro gave way to a Metal march to start “BABYMETAL DEATH.” The girls marched out together in perfect sync as the Metal kicked in. Then, singing together, while moving with precision, the girls mesmerized the crowd with hand movements and dance. Wearing Kabuki makeup and white robes, Kami band shredded their big hit “Gimme Chocolate!!” as the audience jumped and raised fists, watching in amazement as the three singers moved about to the hyper pace of the band. Next was “Catch Me If You Can,” a showcase of the band’s power as each one of them took their turn in the spotlight, showing amazing musicianship. When the singers returned to the stage, Su-Metal immediately called for a big circle pit. The crowd was happy to obey and as a result were treated to “Megitsune” and their hit, “KARATE.” Now standing alone center stage, Su-Metal asked in English, “How are you feeling today ? Let us hear your voice, Put your hands in the air!” Inspiring more screams, BABYMETAL closed their show with “Road of Resistance,” and at the end, the three bowed and said as one, “See You!” Kicking, punching, and dancing, BABYMETAL performed hands down the most unique and spellbinding set of the day.
Dinner time, or in the eyes of festival goers, it was Marilyn Manson time over at the main stage around 6 PM. Forming the band originally down in Florida back in 1989, the singer is known for his theatrics and controversial subject matter as well as controversial behavior on and off stage. Having sold over 50 million records worldwide, Manson has three platinum records and three gold records while eight of his releases have debuted in the top ten, and two were No.1 records. Often misunderstood or smeared by mainstream media, Manson’s 1996 album, Antichrist Superstar, and 1998’s Mechanical Animals bought the band massive attention, while 2015’s The Pale Emperor received critical praise and commercial success. Currently touring throughout the summer with Chicago Open Air Festival day 3 headliners Slipknot, Marilyn Manson was prime to incite a reaction from the audience.
As the intro played, Bassist Twiggy Ramirez, Drummer Gil Sharone, Guitarists Tyler Bates and Paul Wiley, along with Keyboardist Daniel Fox made their way onto the stage, dressed in black with faces painted in macabre display. Cheers grew to screams as Manson himself strode onto the stage as stained glass depictions of Manson in a red robe could be seen on either side of the stage. On his cue, the band began “Angel With the Scabbed Wings” and Manson walked across the stage, taking in the crowd, all with fists raised and singing along. Dropping down from the stage, Manson gave himself to the sea of photographers who surrounded him as he screamed. When it was over, Manson, now on his knees, blew a kiss to the crowd and threw his brass knuckles microphone before thanking the crowd and started “Disposable Teens.”
Smoke filled the stage as Manson bounced and screamed before “No Reflection,” where he was now singing into a butcher knife. The band tightly delivered as Manson re-appeared from backstage wearing a bowler hat, stating, “My job is to bleed and wear a hat, and yell really fucking loud cuz you came to see the mOBSCENE.” From there, Manson strode down a narrow walkway taking him into the crowd surrounded by security, singing to his elated fans. He made his way back to the edge of the crowd, greeting crowd-surfers as they reached the stage. Despite what some critics may say, he seemed to love being near his fans. That said, “Deep Six” followed and ended with Manson throwing his microphone, and once again, disappearing into the shadows. Returning, this time holding a confetti gun, he fired it at Ramirez saying something about drugs and introducing “The Dope Show” as the crowd erupted with Manson leading them through the chorus.
Manson returned looking unnatural, wearing stilts and stomping around singing their unmistakable rendition of the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams.” Next, “Antichrist Superstar” began as Manson walked out wearing a suit and tie, cross painted on his face, carrying a burning book as he took his place behind a large podium in a naziesque scene. Delivering a powerful performance as the masses screamed before him, Manson told the crowd that he was not sure if they should play another song, as he teased with the rhythm of “The Beautiful People” on a drum. Once again departing from the stage, to be among his people as chaos followed his every step, crowd-surfers moved through fists and horns as people bounced and screamed throughout the powerful finale. Capping it all off, Manson dollars rained down over the crowd as he bid one final goodbye to his fans and disappeared into the darkness. On point throughout, Marilyn Manson captivated all who attended with a dark, unpredictable performance.
Closing out the second stage was New England’s own Killswitch Engage. A part of the same crop of talented New England bands to rise in the late ’90s like All That Remains, Killswitch Engage has released seven studio albums, including their most recent, 2016’s Incarnate. Led strongly for a decade by Vocalist Howard Jones, 2012 saw the return of original Vocalist Jesse Leach, a move which excited their fanbase. Not to say Jones was not loved as the band’s voice, but sometimes for fans, there is something special about the return of an original vocalist. That being said, Killswitch Engage continue to rip up the live stage and play countless festivals including, but not limited to, Soundwave, Wacken, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Ozzfest, Download Festival, Rock on the Range, Mayhem Festival, Monsters of Rock, Knotfest, and Heavy Montreal.
Festival vets, Guitarists Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz, Bassist Mike D’Antonio, Leach, and Drummer Justin Foley got the crowd swirling early with the blasting “A Bid Farewell,” the opener from 2004’s The End of Heartache. Moving on, “Strength of the Mind” was no different as the mayhem gave way to a brief sing-along chorus before “Beyond the Flames” and “Hate by Design” followed in brutal fashion as surfers rode the crowd from pit to stage. Leach growled deeply at the sea of people as he pointed to them asking for more. From there, “My Last Serenade” featured heavy breakdowns and “Rose of Sharyn” was a straight-ahead grinder prompting the pit to pick the speed up and swell. Closing out was “The End of Heartache,” “My Curse,” and “In Due Time” as the tornado the band created whipped everyone around, leaving them a need to catch their breath.
Five Finger Death Punch
With two bands left, co-headlining the main stage, Five Finger Death Punch was ready to rumble. Come together a decade ago, Five Finger Death Punch have been riding a wave of success that began with 2007’s The Way of the Fist. Taking the Metal scene by storm, they have sustained that success with album after album and, in 2015, were voted SiriusXM Octane Artist of the Year, adding to the numerous awards and nominations the band had received over the years. Currently supporting their latest effort, 2015’s Got Your Six, Five Finger Death Punch are prime for remaining atop the Metal food chain.
With the distinct line up of Guitarists Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook, Drummer Jeremy Spencer, Singer Ivan Moody, as well as Bassist Chris Kael, hands reached up and toward the stage as the band walked out to loud cheers. An opposing figure on stage, Moody told the crowd to “Put your fucking hands up!” before the band got things rolling with “Lift Me Up” and “Hard to See.” Fists pumped till the end when Moody paused and told the crowd, “So I bought a Cubs jersey.” As the mix of boos and cheers rained down upon him, he continued, “Wait a minute, I didn’t say I was gonna wear the thing.” Pausing again, he said, “Then I bought a White Sox jersey.” Accepting more boos and cheers, “But I decided not to wear that one either. I’m not getting shit over baseball.” The crowd laughed and cheered loudly before Moody engaged them some more saying, “Are you guys alive? Prove it, when I jump up, you jump up.” This led into one of the band’s earliest hits, “Never Enough.”
Later on, Kael and Hook sang tight harmonies as the band churned out “Got Your Six,” Bad Company’s “Bad Company,” and “Jekyll and Hyde.” Then, changing it up a bit, Hook accompanied Moody on acoustic guitar as the two began “Wrong Side of Heaven” when hands swayed back and forth and voices rose up from the crowd. Returning to heaviness, “Battle Born” and “Under and Over It” were performed before they closed out with “The Bleeding.” Emotionally driven, fans clapped along with Moody as he sang and called for the crowd to scream. Moody called for the little girl, now famous for crowd-surfing with her mommy, to join him onstage. She ran up, gave him a hug and sang into his own microphone lowered to her height. The duo drew huge cheers from the crowd as the little girl showed veteran stage presence jumping and throwing her fist in the air. A beautiful moment, Moody, the little girl, and the crowd all sang the last song together, making it one of the boldest stand-out moment of day three.
Now, with the evening set in and everyone rather exhausted, it was time for Metal Giants Slipknot to close out the festival. Hailing from the unlikely location of Iowa, Slipknot has achieved massive success with their aggressive style and mind-blowing theatrics. After solidifying its lineup and releasing 1999’s Slipknot, founding member and Percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan, Keyboardists Sid Wilson and Craig “133” Jones, Percussionist Chris Fehn, Guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thomson, and Vocalist Corey Taylor toured extensively in support. Since then, Slipknot has seen themselves become one of the world’s biggest Heavy Metal bands and, in 2014, received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock album for 5: The Gray Chapter. The band’s first record since 2010’s All Hope Is Gone, they continue to reach new heights in their music and live performances in the years to follow. In 2014, Bassist Alessandro Venturella and Drummer Jay Weinberg joined the band on the road.
Introduced by David Bowie’s “Fashion” playing over the speakers, the near capacity crowd roared in the dark as anticipation grew. With aggression, “Be Prepared for Hell” began as Crahan spun and Fehn raised up behind their satellite drums rigs. A dominating frontman, Taylor asked the crowd, “Are you ready?” then told them to “Jump the Fuck up!” as the rest of the band sported jumpsuits and masks, banged their heads as they delivered “The Negative One” before “Disasterpiece.” A riveting start, Drummer Jay Weinberg blasted the beginning of “Eyeless” as Taylor once again asked the crow if they were ready, and they responded in a chaotic fashion, singing in full force with “Before I Forget” from 2004’s Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses).
Still having complete control, Taylor appeared on the giant video screens flanking the stage as flames swirled on a third video screen behind the band. Blue and purple lights washed over the stage as brilliant images flashed across the giant screen behind Weinberg as the band played the 2015 single “Killpop.” With everything going black upon the conclusion of the song, the crowd hushed as they waited. Then Taylor appeared to speak of the band’s origin, stating, “This band is from Des Moines, Iowa. Coincidentally we have an album called Iowa. Who has the Iowa album here?” Upon hearing the intro, Wilson was keyed to lift off into “The Heretic Anthem” as the crowd erupted and the insanity raged on for “Psychosocial” with Crahan and Fehn marching around the stage playing snare drums.
Inspired by the crowd reaction, Taylor told the crowd to look around. He said, “The next time anyone ever tells you that Metal and Rock and Roll are dead, they can suck my ass.” With that, the went into “The Devil in I” before going way back to the beginning, to close the show with “Wait and Bleed.” Their first ever Grammy nominated song received loud screams, cheers, and singing from all in the crowd. Trying to draw Slipknot back out, the crowd exploded once they returned with “Surfacing,” as the word SLIPKNOT flashed on the giant screen. Ready for more, the crowd sang along as a frenzy of lights and sonic brutality ensued for an encore with “Duality” and “Spit It Out.”
Simply put, Slipknot demonstrated their live supremacy with an incredible show filled with spectacle and sheer brutality that engaged the immense crowd from start to finish. As far as day three of the first ever Chicago Open Air Festival, it was a fitting conclusion to an incredible three day long event that exceeded the expectations of all involved. Fans saw an unreal lineup of bands spanning decades of Heavy Music, the organizers saw huge attendance, and bands played to enormous crowds. Hopefully a tradition that will return for years to come, over three days in July of 2016, the world witnessed the birth of an epic new festival.Photos by: Aintellin Photography