Knotfest crushes in day one San Bernardino, CA 10-25-14

Knotfest crushes in day one San Bernardino, CA 10-25-14

Back in 2012, Iowa’s own Slipknot unleashed their own vision of the ultimate Heavy Metal festival, launching two days of dark entertainment and extreme music called Knotfest held on August 17, 2012, in Council Bluffs, Iowa and August 18, 2012, in Somerset, Wisconsin. Highly successful, the festival had fans pondering if it was a one-time event or something that would become tradition for years to come.  That question has been answered in 2014 with the resurrection of Knotfest in association with Rockstar Energy Drink for a bigger, more epic experience than ever before. Scheduled to be held October 24th through 26th at San Manuel Amphitheater & Campgrounds in San Bernardino, CA, there was a total of five stages, as well as 60 plus bands scheduled to perform.  Although there has been a highly publicized reaction to KISS’ Gene Simmons stating Rock-n-Roll is dead, Knotfest nearly sold out a three day event, showing just the opposite.  Many fans flew far and wide, drove long distances, and some even risked having their cars go up in flames to make it to this event.

Friday October 24th was the kickoff as a pre-party for those choosing to camp on the grounds, as well as VIP guests. These early birds were treated to such acts as Butcher Babies, Chelsea Grin, Black Dahlia Murder, Alterbeast, and Suicide Silence.  Immediately following a long and exhausting day for the fans getting settled into the designated camping area, everyone still found a way to make it to Stage 002 and 003 for a liberating night of pure Metal.

Then on Saturday October 25th , the celebration officially began with a total of twenty-eight bands on tap to perform for nearly thirteen consistent hours of non-stop Metal.   Arising bright and early, preparing themselves for the day, fans from all over were blasting tunes from their cars, getting ready to kick off the amazing weekend.

Play For Blood:

Beginning approximately 12: 25 PM on Stage 004, Phoenix, Arizona based Play For Blood unleashed their heavy and melodic style onto the audience. Formed in 2011, this unsigned band consists of Kash Christopher (Vocals), Joe Rocha (Guitar), Seany Ringo (Bass), Danny Nelson (Percussion), and Jay Macchione (Guitar).  Performing original songs such as “Godless” and “Dark Passenger,” this was certainly an excellent opportunity for the band to get some great exposure.   Their debut EP is scheduled to be released soon and Play For Blood will also be appearing on Desert Frostover December 12-13 in Phoenix.


Stage 005 introduced the pioneers of the urban Metal scene, Prong, at approximately 12:45 PM. Formed in 1986 in New York City and now residing in LA, after a  five year hiatus Prong reformed in 2002 with a current lineup of  Tommy Victor (lead vocals, guitar), Jason Christopher (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Art Cruz (drums).  Ready to pulverize San Manuel Amphitheater with their brand of Industrial and Hardcore laced Metal, they played songs such as classic “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” and a killer cover of Misifts’ songs “London Dungeon” with Randy Blythe of Lamb of God joining them on stage. Prongs ninth studio album Ruining Lives is out now and worth picking up.  

King 810:

Slightly over two months after the release of their debut album, Memoirs of a Murderer via Roadrunner records, King 810 conquered Stage 002, beginning at 1:20 PM, with their Black Metal twist in the Nu Metal genre.  These Flint, Michigan natives sure know how to rock the crowd, especially with singer David Gunn’s fearless energy climbing the stage and still staying in tune.  Performing songs such as “Killem All,” “Treading and Trodden,” “War Outside,” and “Fat Around the Heart,” this young band dominated in impressive fashion.  Gearing up for their massive tour in support of Korn and Slipknot, this was a great preview of what is to come from King 810.

Butcher Babies:

On Stage 002 at 1:50 PM, from Los Angeles California, Butcher Babies showed that they sure know how to evoke pure chaos amongst an audience. Consisting of Heidi Shepherd (Vocals), Carla Harvey (Vocals), Henry Flury (Guitar), Jason Klein (Bass), and Chrissy Warner (Drums), this was one of the best performances from day one.  Starting out heavy and strong with the fun Stormtroopers of Death cover of “Pussy Whipped,” the double assault of Shepherd and Harvey’s vocals was overwhelming through tracks like “Goliath,” “Magnolia Blvd,” as well as “Axe Wound.”  The set was so stimulating, even a fan in a wheelchair joined the circle pit.  Check out their debut album Goliath as well as their recently released Uncovered EP out now on Century Media Records.


Beginning around 2:35 PM, Stage 005 hosted Nu metal veterans OTEP. Formed in Los Angeles in 2000, lead by  front woman Otep Shamaya, the band is now independent from record labels after releasing what was stated to be their final studio album Hydra in 2013. Seeing many members come and go through the years, OTEP now includes Ari Mihalopoulos (guitars), Corey Wolford (bass), and Justin Kier (drums).  Exploding with tracks such as 2004’s “Warhead,” along with a load of tracks from their extensive discography, OTEP had a massive pit going from start to finish.  Thankfully for dedicated followers, Otep reconsidered her decision and there will in fact be a future album from the band, so keep a look out.

The Devil Wears Prada:

At 3 PM on Stage 003, Devil Wears Prada were ready to be a jolt of energy for a time slot which is usually a midday slumber for most. Formed in 2008 in Dayton, Ohio, the band consists of Mike Hranica (vocals), Chris Rubey (guitar), Jeremy DePoyster (guitar/vocals), Daniel Williams (drums), and Andy Trick (bass). No stranger to the festival circuit, the band came out completely amped up to the site of the massive crowd.  Hranica electrified with immense vocals and emotional expression as they played songs like “Mammoth,” “Sailor’s Prayer,” and “Dead Throne.”  Signed to Roadrunner records, their latest album 8:18 is well worth digging into.

Fear Factory:

Shortly after at 3:30 PM on Stage 005, also from Los Angeles, California, Fear Factory churned out their Industrial inspired Metal. Formed in 1990, Fear Factory’s lineup is made up of Burton C. Bell (vocals), Dino Cazares (guitar), Mike Heller (drums), and Matt DeVries (bass). Known and respected by a blanketed mix of Metal fans, Fear Factory’s throat-grabbing sound never sounded better as they played classics like “Shock,” “Edgecrusher,” “Demanufacture,” and “Replica.”  As always, Bell’s mix of screams and clean singing was perfect and Fear Factory sustain their crown as a force to be reckoned with.  Marking the 24th anniversary of the band in October, fans are grateful to have been apart of the amazing ride.  Being three years since their last album, The Industrialist, plans are in place for ninth studio album to be released via Candlelight Records in 2015.


Over on Stage 002 at 3:40 PM, Death Metal legends from Liverpool, England, Carcass, were ready to tear up the stage. Founded in 1985 and considered the pioneers of Grindcore and Melodic Death Metal, Carcass now consists of Bill Steer (guitars), Jeff Walker (bass/vocals), Daniel Wilding (drums), and Ben Ash (guitars). After a twelve year hiatus, the band reformed in 2007 to a warm reception from long-time fans as well as a younger generation hungry to see what Carcass was all about.  Offering songs like “Buried Dreams,”  “Corporal Jigsore Quandary,” and “Heartwork,” the band shred through with ease and had everyone screaming for more.  Releasing their first studio album in seventeen years with Surgical Steel in 2013, Carcass now gift their fans with a new EP call Surgical Remission / Surplus Steel featuring unreleased tracks from the last album.

In This Moment:

At 4:20 PM on Stage 003, one of the last bands to perform before the mainstage kick-off was In This Moment.  Another act from Los Angeles, California, the band were down on their luck three short years ago before founding vocalist Maria Brink and Guitarist Chris Howorth recruited a new lineup featuring Bassist Travis Johnson, Drummer Tom Hane, and Guitarist Randy Weitzel.  Unfearing of backlash, they pumped out 2012’s Blood, and as a result created their most successful studio album to date.   Known for their theatrical stage antics including wardrobe changes, Brink and company played songs such as “Whore,” “Adrenalize”, and “Blood.”  Complemented by mysterious masked dancers, the band captivated the imagination of the audience and went on to play newer songs such as “Sick Like Me” and “Sex Metal Barbie.”  Recently releasing their newest album, Black Widow, on November 17th, In This Moment look to continue their wave of success to the top.


Meanwhile, at  5:05 PM back on Stage 002, pioneering Thrash Metal band from Berkeley, California, Testament, was the absolute last to perform before the main stage event.  Formed in 1983, Testament now consists of Eric Peterson (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Alex Skolnick (lead guitar, backing vocals), Chuck Billy (vocals), Gene Hoglan (drums), and for the first time in a decade, Steve DiGiorgio (bass). Opening with “The Star Spangled Banner” as their intro, they immediately went into “Rise Up” from their 2012 album Dark Roots of Earth.   Truly riling up the crowd, especially during their classic hits such as “Into the Pit,” “Over the Wall,” and “The New Order,” Testament put on one of the classic Metal showcases of the day.  Testament has reportedly stated they have plans to release a new album in Spring of 2015, so look out Thrash lovers.


Having already been thrashed and bashed, Knotfest’s bravest found Hatebreed over on Stage 001 at 6:10 PM. Formed in 1994, this Connecticut Hardcore band comprised of Jamey Jasta (vocals), Chris Beattie (bass guitar), Wayne Lozinak (guitar), Matt Byrne (drums), and Frank Novinec (guitar) kicked off the main stage with “Everyone Bleeds Now.”  They certainly gave the audience a tremendous effort with songs like “Honor Never Dies,” “Smash Your Enemies,” “Last Breath,” and of course “I Will Be Heard.”   Proud to be who they are, Hatebreed reveled in every moment on stage, and so did the crowd.  In continued support of their 2013 album, The Divinity of Purpose, the band will continue touring along-side Black Label Society through early 2015.

Black Label Society:

Speaking of Black Label Society, the gritty Metallers followed at 7:05 PM on Stage 001.  Together now since 1998, the Zakk Wylde led bunch including bassist John DeServio, new drummer Jeff Fabb, and guitarist Dario Lorinae tore into the audience immediately with songs like “The Beginning… At Last,” “Funeral Bell,” “Bleed for Me,” 2014’s Catacombs of the Black Vatican “Heart of Darkness,” and “Suicide Messiah.”  Showing his unmatched guitar skills, Wylde dazzled the crowd consistently through the set.  Complementing each song with soulful vocals and tight instrumentation from all, they concluded with”Concrete Jungle,” and “Stillborn.”  Black Label Society garnished much praise and appreciation for this late day set.


At 8:05PM on Stage 001, Big Four Thrash Metal band Anthrax were ready to take the stage.  From New York, formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker, the band is rounded out by Charlie Benante (drums, percussion), Frank Bello (bass guitar, backing vocals) replacing Lilker in 1984, Joey Belladonna (lead vocals), and newest addition Jonathan Donais (lead guitar). Of course playing their all-time classic songs such as “Indians,” “Fight ‘Em ‘Till You Can’t,” and “Caught In a Mosh,” they also reveal a sneak peek of new songs which lasted approximately thirty seconds. As a perfect teaser, it sounds like their new material could be perhaps some of their best to date.   Proving they love to perform live, Anthrax lit up Knotfest in glorious fashion.  The band will be hitting the road in the spring of 2015 with Volbeat and tickets are on sale now, so act quick.


At 11 PM, the time had come for the hosts of Knotfest themselves, Slipknot, to take center stage.  After a hiatus, setbacks, and tragic loss of founding bassist Paul Gray in 2010, Slipknot has battled through, living to tell the tale. Answering the call of their undying fanbase, a week prior to Knotfest, the band released 5: The Gray Chapter, marking their first studio album in six years.  What did this all mean?  It meant that the tension of energy mounting in the Metal community leading up to the record and this performance was so immense it was sure to be a historical evening for all present.

Igniting the flames with 2001 track “People = Shit,” lead vocalist Corey Taylor and company came out with a furious adrenaline rush.  Offering up tracks like “Eeyore,” last played live in 2008, and premiering “The Negative One,” there were surprises around every turn, with fans attentively taking it all in.  Losing themselves in the moment, audience members were moving around with high velocity, raising their hands in the air, and screaming along to favorites like “Wait And Bleed” and “Three Nil,” which has not been heard live in nearly a decade.  Tightly wound and with the precision of a well-oiled machine, the percussion section featuring Shawn “Clown” Crahan, Chris Fehn, and unknown new drummer was matched by the guitar chops of Jim Root and Mick Thomson along with the introduction of Alessandro Venturella on bass.  Going into the ear tingling affection of “Purity,” they debuted another new track thereafter “Custer,” before “Duality.”  Exiting for mere minutes before being lifted out by a sea of screams, the encore highlighted old classics “Spit it Out” and “Surfacing.”

Slipknot certainly lived up to the exceptions of hungry fans of Knotfest, and to think, they were going to be performing the following evening as well.  They have not skipped a beat through all the trials they have faced, and from the sound of the new material, it seems they have put a lot into the creation of 5: The Gray Chapter.  As everyone departed from the grounds of San Manuel Amphitheater into the darkness, they knew they better rest up before the final day of Knotfest on Sunday October 26th.

See all the action from Knotfest day two:

knotfest day 2 slide

On-site reporting of Knotfest by Zenae Zukowski & photography Karina Diane Parker

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