July 15, 2016 Slipknot & Marilyn Manson Crush Nikon at Jones Beach Theater Wantagh, NY 7-6-16 w/ Of Mice & Men
Back in the bitter cold days of winter, most were dreaming of a summer’s day escape. Giving hope that the hot and humid days of summer were only a few months away, on February 16, 2016, Slipknot made an enormous announcement that they would be hitting the road June through August to rattle cities across America. If that was not enough to get Metal fans’ temperature rising, the trek would be announced to include veteran Rocker Marilyn Manson and one of the hottest band’s in recent years, Of Mice & Men. A mix of respected experience and youth, this lengthy tour is without a doubt the Metal juggernaut of the summer of 2016. Having already made their way across the West Coast, stalked down South on the East Coast, following a break for Independence Day weekend, on Wednesday, July 6th, Slipknot and company brought their wild live show to Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York. A hot, mid-summer night became a scorcher as a loud and ruckus show began with the sun still blistering down.
Setting the tone for the night, Californian band Of Mice & Men were up first. Perhaps unknown to the average Slipknot or Marilyn Manson fan, Of Mice & Men have done an impressive job of blazing their own trail since their inception back in 2009. Having released three highly-charted albums and establishing themselves as the future of Alternative Metal, this tour gives them an opportunity to convert those who discount the band just because they hear the label “Metalcore.”
With that said, the talented ensemble of Valentino Arteaga (drums), Phil Manansala (lead guitar), Alan Ashby (guitar), Aaron Pauley (bass), and Austin Carlile (vocals) took the stage to Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” blaring on the PA. Set opener “Public Service Announcement” was just that as the band let the crowd know it came to deliver hard and heavy Metal with attitude to spare. Taking the open air amphitheater by surprise, blast beats on drums, heavy down-tuned guitars, and growling vocals made for a potent stew. Then there were tracks like “The Flood,” which showed the band’s ability to blend a downright funky bass line with greasy Industrial Metal, and “Glass Hearts” with its eerie soundscape intro which quickly escalated into a Nu-Metal rave-up replete with ferocious energy as well as a surprisingly Pop-worthy melody.
Performing eight songs in total, set closer “The Depths” concluded the showcase with wild vocals and spiraling sounds on guitar that left the crowd well primed for Marilyn Manson. A take-no-prisoners opening set, it is safe to say Of Mice & Men converted the unbelievers. Those of which are new fans now, the band recently released Live at Brixton back in May and have plans to drop their fourth studio album, Cold World, later this year.
Up next was the one and only Marilyn Manson. Love him or hate him, one cannot deny his talent and ability to grab the attention. Begun his professional musical career as far back as 1989, with the then Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids, Manson had a vision for pure domination. Then, in 1994, as Grunge was on the way out, Marilyn Manson filled the void with his creative blend of Rock-n-Roll, Noise-Rock, Goth stylings, and controversial subject matter upon the release of Portrait of an American Family. Taking a page from Kiss and Alice Cooper, Manson completed his act with wild costumes and over-the-top makeup, but most of all, he had a message. While his freakish appearance and outlandish lyrics certainly helped him gain notoriety, it was not all show, as he produced a slew of albums that rose up the charts, creating an army of dedicated followers. Now, nine albums later, the latest being 2015’s The Pale Emperor, Manson, along with long-time bassist Twiggy Ramirez, Drummer Gil Sharone, Guitarist Paul Wiley, Keyboardist Daniel Fox, and Guitarist Tyler Bates, still rocks audiences.
Last visiting the Jones Beach venue in the summer of 2015 along side Smashing Pumpkins, the return was received with a roar of cheers as the set kicked off with “Angel with the Scabbed Wings.” A riff that could have come right from any chart-topping ’70s Rock-n-Roll album got the crowd moving as the rhythmic drumming fell in with the snarling guitars as Manson sneered a dismal tale of the life of a burned out Rock star. Them came the upbeat “Disposable Teens,” keeping the momentum going as Manson relied on the tried and true Bo Diddley beat coupled with fuzzy guitars. Hitting high notes throughout, along with menacing, demonic vocals, the song was a great summation of Manson’s appeal.
Moving along rather quickly, a chugging riff and straight-ahead Rock-n-Roll singing made 2012’s “No Reflection” a standout track this night as Manson blended a myriad of influences into an expert mix. Going on to play the chant-along “MoBSCENE,” newer cut “Deep Six,” and the anti-trend anthem “This is the New Shit,” Manson was diving in and out of fans’ favorites. Then came the huge hit “The Dope Show” where the band delivered an infectious melody interestingly juxtaposed with dark subject matter. Sounding like the best of ’80s Synth Pop meets early Heavy Metal and classic Ministry, it was a powerful testament to why Manson has been able to draw fans from a wide variety of genres.
In a nod to his influences, Manson had a smash hit with his take on the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” While the original version was not lacking a touch of a creepy vibe and melancholy, Manson took it to the extreme, making it his own. Sinewy, murky guitars set the tone as Manson droned on, dragging out the words, sounding like a tortured soul, making for a memorable moment in the performance. Offering another unapologetic hit, “Antichrist Superstar” and Manson’s biggest hit, “The Beautiful People” was a journey into the mind of a madman. A fuzz-heavy riff along with pounding drums were the foundation over which Manson whispered the verses before exploding for the chorus. It was a roller coaster of sound, meandering back and forth between nightmarish, psychotic whispering and hair-raising screams. It is no surprise this song was a smash hit, and its appeal was ever more enticing live as Manson and his band pulled out all the stops, providing a mind-bending experience and getting the crowd gassed up for Slipknot.
Now, with only the moonlight illuminating the evening sky, a mass of eager fans awaited the finale of Iowa’s own Slipknot. Exploding onto the Heavy Metal scene in 1999 with their Roadrunner Records self-titled debut album, Slipknot would be one of the leading acts in the genre over the next decade. Known for their unconventional approach, vivid masks, and throat-grabbing live shows, they would release four more albums, including their most recent, 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter. Despite on-going speculation that Slipknot was all but done prior to their return to the live stage in 2011, they continue to tour relentlessly, headline major festivals, and draw raucous crowds every time out.
Decked out in dark, Spartan, drab clothing, Slipknot took the stage, and the crowd exploded like a pressure cooker. All nine members, Shawn Crahan (percussion), Craig Jones (synthesizers), Mick Thomson (guitar), Sid Wilson (turntables), Chris Fehn (percussion), Jim Root (guitar), Alessandro Venturella (bass), Jay Weinberg (drums), and Corey Taylor (vocals), looked like they just walked off the set of a Horror movie or broke out of prison. In addition to the dark, sinister clothing, each member donned a mask that would make a lot of people scream in fear. Creating a vivid mix of imagery, “The Negative One” was a great introduction to the uninitiated as wild percussion, heavy guitars, and battering ram vocals whipped the crowd into a frenzy, and the crowd would not slow down for the remainder of the evening.
Rocketing forward, Metal guitar with Psychedelic underpinnings introduced the crowd to “Disasterpiece” as beads and flowers were quickly whisked away as a guttural vocal, rapid-fire drumming, and molten guitars spiraled into a Death Metal dirge. Wild drumming, echoing ’70s obscure Funk, and an echo-drenched lead on guitar began “Eyeless,” but the song quickly took a turn into Industrial Metal moving at Mach 5. Later on, “Killpop” found the band dabbling in yet another sound as virtually spoken-word vocals were delivered over music and beats clearly influenced by mid ’90s Hip Hop and Dance music. A nod to their influences, the band dropped in some old-fashioned Rock-n-Roll with hints of Death Metal spread throughout each song they played. Which raises one to question, how has Slipknot had the ability to somehow play brutal music and a melody that would fit right in on the Top 40 while appealing to such a broad audience? The answer is simple, they do so with conviction and unconstrained talent.
Now halfway along into their show, “Dead Memories” came on as textbook Alternative Metal. While the music was dark, the overall sound was endearing and not overly aggressive, and the song was a complete sing-along with the crowd. With a tight grip-hold, no-frills head banger, “Psychosocial” was heavy and deep with a bouncy lead riff as the guttural vocals were delivered with purpose and gave way to a chorus that eased the heaviness with Pop Rock perfection. Complementary to it all, wah-wah heavy solos throughout made for a multi-layered sound that was rife with both angst and joy.
Having already taken everyone’s breath away, and then some, Slipknot kept the punishment coming with a slew of favorites including “Pulse of the Maggots,” “Left Behind,” “The Devil in I,” and early hit, “Wait and Bleed.” Having hearts pounding and everyone on their feet, the climax came with “(sic”) which broke the speed barrier with machine-gun drumming and a chugging riff, over which the vocals hurried along faster than both. For not even a second did the song ever drift into a catchy melody, or even Rock-n-Roll, it moved at such a brisk pace, it seemed as if it would continually speed up until exploding.
Gone through over an hour of brutal Metal, the crowd still demanded more. Aware of their fans rabid hunger, after a brief exit, the band returned for a three song encore begun with another oldie, but goodie, “Surfacing.” Featuring a spaced-out intro on guitar, reminiscent of ’80s guitar gods like Vai and Satriani, it was joined by wild effects and impossibly fast drumming, the type of texture that helped Slipknot rise to predominance. From there, the pace took off into the stratosphere and kept it up right to the end before the uncharacteristically gentle opening of “Duality.” Giving way to Slipknot’s signature heavy riffing and blast beat drumming, the verses were delivered in a hypnotic, droning manner, sounding like a disenchanted rapper pining for sympathetic ears, before dropping back into scorching Heavy Metal. Finally, taking it to the limit, “Spit It Out” was an ideal finishing number. This song, more than any other this night, was the perfect summation of Slipknot, their influences, and their unique take on the genre. Gruff lyrics were delivered faster than seemingly possible, all the while bombastic percussion darted in and out over an insanely heavy lead on guitar. Of course, a borderline sugary chorus completed the song, as Slipknot was able to deliver a brutal, yet catchy song.
With little down time, this was a show from start to finish that kept the heat on. Relative newcomers Of Mice and Men, opening for two acts who undoubtedly influenced them, rose to the occasion and delivered a solid set of hard and heavy music. Marilyn Manson, the elder statesman of the night, delivered a performance to be expected from a seasoned pro. Mixing intense music with an intriguing look and crazy stage show has always been a formula for success, and Manson delivered it seamlessly.
As for the headliner, Slipknot, they gave the crowd all they expected and then some as their super-charged stage presence coupled with their intense music, delivered by musicians with serious chops and a serious flair for the best of musical theater. While this tour ends on August 27th, Slipknot have KnotFest coming up in September, so those looking for a night with over-the-top showmanship and music that gets their blood pumping and ears bleeding, be sure to catch this tour before it is over.Photo credit: Stephanie Pearl Photography