September 9, 2015 Slipknot & Lamb of God Lead Assault Across Concord, CA 8-26-15 w/ Bullet For My Valentine & Motionless In White
A tour of numbers, masks, makeup, and fury has been sweeping its way across North America this Summer. That being the enormous lineup of Slipknot, Lamb of God, Bullet For My Valentine, and Motionless in White. All headlining acts in their own right, the bands kicked off the trek on July 24th and concluded its rampage on September 5th. With Slipknot releasing their highly anticipated .5: The Gray Chapters in 2014, Lamb of God just dropping VII: Sturm und Drang while on the tour, Bullet For My Valentine unleashing Venom while on the tour, and Motionless in White releasing Reincarnation in 2014, this is a gathering no Metal fan wanted to miss. That is why on Wednesday, August 26th, a mass of concert goers swooped into Concord Pavilion in Concord, CA early on to get ready for a long night ahead.
With a scary look befitting a concert series whose headliner is Slipknot, Motionless In White had their own special aura. Hailing from Scranton, PA, they are comprised of Chris “Motionless” Cerulli (lead vocalist), Josh Balz (keyboards), Ryan Sitkowski (lead guitar), Ricky “Horror” Olson (rhythm guitar, vocals), Devin “Ghost” Sola (bass), and finally, Vinny Mauro (drums). Definitely a part of the Metalcore scene and rocking a Gothic look that is really emphasized as part of their brand, much like Slipknot embraces the masks their members are so well known for, Motionless In White plays the part well. The youngest band by far, they released their third album last year, simply titled Reincarnation.
Performing mostly songs from Reincarnation, they began with “Break the Cycle,” the most recent single. They then went into their older material with three songs. The first two were from 2012’s Infamous. “Devil’s Night” was first and people were settling in more and more while hardcore Motionless fans were up front and personal getting down. Next from Infamous was “If It’s Dead, We’ll Kill It,” which features Brandan Schieppati of Bleeding Through. They did one song off of 2010’s Creatures, which happened to be “Abigail,” the first single they ever put out. They then returned to Reincarnation with “Unstoppable,” followed by “Generation Lost.” Two of the shortest songs on the new album, they packed a punch and made an impact with their time on stage. They ended with the titular song off Reincarnation and the crowd bid them an enthusiastic adieu as they reminded everyone of who they were and hyped Bullet For My Valentine.
With the album artwork of Venom displayed in the background proudly, the stage was set for Bullet For My Valentine. Hailing from the UK and excited to be touring the US again, Matthew Tuck (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) enthusiastically greeted the large, though not completely packed, crowd. Dual flying V guitars were rocked by Michael Paget (lead guitar) and Tuck. Jamie Mathias (bass) dominated the left side of the stage with spunk and attitude that told everyone he felt right at home with his new bandmates. Last, but certainly not least, rocking the double kicks on drums like a madman, was Michael Thomas. Everyone but Mathias has been with the band since its inception and been on all five records. After losing a bit of steam on their last album in 2013, Temper Temper, Venom has brought them back with a vengeance, and fans were excited to get a live taste of the new album.
They opened with “Your Betrayal,” which is their most popular single on the US charts. Appropriate and definitely the right choice as the crowd started jumping and moshing throughout the nearly one minute and a half intro. The break of the chorus gave fans a chance to catch their breaths and recharge. The next track was “No Way Out,” the first single off of Venom. One could really feel the disparity between the groups of fans. Each band drew people that were a little different, and it was a good thing because the energy was always positive even when people did not know the lyrics. “Raising Hell” is another example of a song that sounds brutal but is perfectly suited to not maintain a mosh pit due to the flow of the song. Thomas really punched it on this song and one could not help but beat on your chest, stamp your feet, or air drum along. The next song was the titular song of 2008’s Scream Aim Fire. This one really maintained the energy throughout, and one could see people crowd surfing, which continued throughout the rest of their set.
Back to Venom, “Army of Noise” continued the onslaught as Mathias and Paget stalked the stage back and forth like animals. “Tears Don’t Fall” was the second to last song and Tuck was really able to pump the crowd up about the upcoming bands. The pavilion was starting to really fill up at this point. As they ended on “Waking the Demon,” the crowd roared and the band left. Bullet For My Valentine really was a great choice to have up before Lamb of God as they are a slightly more ‘modern’ band with a unique flavor that really complemented what was coming up.
Lamb of God has released more albums than any of the other bands in the lineup, despite the fact that they and Slipknot released their first albums in the same year, 1999. At that time though, Lamb of God was known as Burn the Priest, they changed the name to Lamb of God later on for mostly political reasons. They consist of the Adler brothers, Chris (drums) and Willie (rhythm guitar), Mark Morton (lead guitar), John Campbell (bass), and of course, Randy Blythe (vocals). This has been the line up since changing their name, and together they have put out seven records. Their style has changed and it was perhaps most drastic on 2006’s Sacrament, but they really have not strayed from their Heavy Metal and political roots. A band that takes controversy head on, they have made many enemies, but have always been true to themselves and what they believe.
Opening with “Walk With Me In Hell,” images of destruction still playing in the background on screens, had fans practically quivering. As the destruction faded to military images, more and more people entered the pavilion. Blythe swung his dreadlocks back and forth as he addressed the crowd, exclaiming how happy they were to be there before going into the next song, “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For,” and Blythe’s whole aura changed, enveloping the whole stage, as he went into the song.
The latest single off VII: Sturm Und Drang, and the intro track, “Still Echoes” was next and the video accompanying it was one of natural disasters, destroying homes, towns, and lives. They then went straight into “512.” The video accompaniment of this track was people being abused. In contrast, Blythe talked a bit about how much he loved the bay area, which the concert was on the outskirts of. Proceeding straight into “Ghost Walking” off of 2012’s Resolution, the video for this song was something different- it was an animated piece with characters, namely red eyed sentries gunning for what one would assume was our protagonist. There was a lot of violence and a mysterious flag symbol, very similar to the American flag, but black and white and with only one star. At the end, Randy spewed water into the air through his mouth in true Metal fashion and began to talk about the other bands. Upon mention of Slipknot, Drummer Chris, brother of Guitarist Willie, played the intro to “(sic),” triggering cheers from the crowd.
A long awaited throwback came in the form of “Ruin” off of the 2003 classic, As The Palaces Burn. “The art of ruin” was alive and well, and it was here that the crowd really came alive with singing while the video showed demons being cast out of people. The band even did the guitar solo different and it was definitely noticed and appreciated. “Hourglass” was the first song off of 2004’s Ashes of the Wake, and it came with a video about wartime, invoking strong moshing. They then jumped back to As The Palaces Burn with “Vigil,” the outro to that album. The video for this was Mausoleums and creepy places which fit the eerie intro. Back on Ashes of the Wake, they played “Laid to Rest” and was accompanied by a video of protests around the world. Lamb of God closed with “Redneck,” and since they were not headlining, they could not come out for an encore no matter how hard the people begged. The crowd was definitely sad to see Lamb of God leave the stage, but by the time they did, the anticipation for the headliner was palpable.
Making way for the main attraction, Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil” began to play before the audience began cheering and then became silent. Everything is black until the ominous Slipknot “S”, one draped on each side of the stage, are lit up from the front. The intro track to .5: The Gray Chapter, simply titled “XIX,” plays in the background. A curtain opens from the middle of the stage and the most evil looking goat head hangs in the back in front of a mural showing various pieces of art from their different albums. Below the goat head, fire engulfs the back of the stage. As the noises and mutterings are playing, out of the curtains come the demonically masked men of Slipknot. Corey Taylor led the group as frontman, spokesperson, and lead vocalist. Mick Thomson and Jim Root, both guitarists, came out, followed by Chris Fehn and Shawn “Clown” Crahan, taking their places on their massive moving stages with their custom percussion instruments. Craig Jones stepped up behind his keyboard while DJ Sid Wilson came out. The last two are new to the group. Jay Weinberg (drums) was formerly in Against Me!, and even in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Alessandro Venturella (bass), on the other hand, hails from Krokodil. They all took their places as the vocals came in… “With my face.. against the floor..” followed by everyone’s taking their phones out. People began singing/screaming along as Taylor riled them up. They even had lighters out. The words “Walk with me.. Walk with me..” were heard and Taylor greeted the crowd, telling them that it was great to be back in the Bay Area. With the fans rabid, by the this time the band have fully taken their places as the set transitioned smoothly into “Sarcastrophe.” Taylor proved he has not lost his chops despite the band having “lightened up” since the controversial album, Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, where clean singing was introduced in a big way.
Moving along, “The Heretic Anthem” from 2001’s Iowa was the start of Taylor sharing the microphone with the audience as everyone yelled, “If you’re 555 then I’m 666!” He stood at the front with Thomson standing on the right and Root and Alessandro taking their place on the left. Perched above and behind, Fehn and Clown looked like demigods on their massive platforms that moved up and down and spun around. Centered behind Taylor, Weinberg was elevated and closest to all the fire. The top left housed Jones on keys and Wilson was tucked into the bottom right corner, though he did not stay put much. With all these people on stage, there was still plenty of room and it made the act feel simply ginormous. When not busy with their respective tasks, band members would run around stage doing mini parkour tricks. At one point, Clown was even out in the audience passing out candy.
“Psychosocial,” one of two songs that they played from 2008’s All Hope Is Gone started to show what the pyrotechnics were really capable of. The menacing men in masks truly were a horror to behold as they went into “The Devil in I,” and followed it with “AOV,” rounding off the first four tracks of their latest release. The first cleanly sung song echoed by the audience was “Vermillion.” Taylor seemed to get scarier the cleaner the songs got, his new mask really brought out his full potential. “Wait and Bleed” was next, and as the band regressed further back in their discography, the crowd got more pumped. Bringing the crowd back into .5: The Gray Chapter was “Killpop.” Throats not yet raw, Taylor sought to remedy that with “Before I Forget,” and this was probably the peak of the crowd’s sing-a-longs. It was after this that Taylor talked about what a great family the Metal community is and people really embraced the idea. Turning to the people to their left and right and greeting them, hugging them, fist bumping them, and more. It had people in a good enough mood to almost dance to “Sulfur,” which was the next song.
Maybe it is because 2004’s Vol .3: was the first album to really have cleans, but people really loved singing the songs off this album. “Duality” continued the singing/screaming trend and the dancing, head-banging, fist pumping one as well. Back to Iowa, things got hectic again for “Disasterpiece,” then back to 1999 for “Spit It Out.” The changes the band has been through become much more obvious when you move from “Sulfur” to “Duality” to “Disasterpiece” and to “Spit It Out” before the final song in their main set, “Custer.”
Definitely ones to make full use of their interesting repertoire of songs and sounds, “742617000027,” the intro to the 1999 self-titled album, came on to announce the inevitable encore. It led itself naturally into “(sic),” which got everyone pumped up and moved into “People = Shit,” another classic. “Surfacing” really established the F-word in the encore and it was nice to end with a bunch of older classic songs. Things tapered off with some background music as Taylor said goodbye one last time and the rest of the band tossed out drumsticks and guitar picks, making this a show no one is likely to forget.
For those that missed it, all that can be said is, get out there and see Slipknot as soon as possible. Those who have not heard the new material from these bands, get out there and buy their latest albums and learn about what it is all about. This was a concert that drew fans together of literally all ages and so many walks of life, ending with celebration and beers, and of course a packed parking lot. Despite being all the way out in Concord, dedicated fans put up with it all; traffic, lines, heat, cold, all to get there for this great celebration of Metal.