Knotfest night 2, Oct. 26th 2014, San Manuel Amphitheater, San Barnardino, California
by on November 14, 2014 11:43 AM in Event Review

 We arrive on day 2. Still hot as shit. However…..

 Next to nothing in the way of a lineup to get in. 
 
 And…..
 
 No Jesus Clan. 
 
 Winning already. 
 
 The 1st act we caught was Whitechapel down on Stage 003. Twas my 1st Whitechapel experience, and it twas a good one. This 6 piece deathcore act from Tennessee took no prisoners during their hard rocking set. In the latter half of their set, frontman Phil Bozeman had everyone in the already substantial sized pit separate to the left & right sides with the command that nobody is to move until the order was given. Once everyone was in position, and with the proper amount of buildup for tension’s sake, the command came down….
 
 “GO!”
 
 With that the pit junkies erupted back to life in a giant circle effort that produced a very impressive tornado of dust that stretched high above the heads of those in attendance. Very cool sight. 
 
 A seemingly wore down Jose Mangin appeared again next on Stage 002 to introduce Devil Driver. The wear of the man wasn’t immediately noticeable until he began to speak.
 
 Knotfest has taken its toll on Jose. 
 
 Devil Driver played an incredibly fierce set that had everyone moving. This was my 1st live Devil Driver set and I can tell you if I have any say in the matter it will not have been my last. These guys are a really great act!
 
 Lou Brutus from XM’s Harddrive took to the stage next to introduce the Massachusetts Metalcore act that definitely ended up 1 of 3 acts that would end up challenging for best supporting act of the weekend. 
 
 Killswitch Engage. 
 
 What an absolutely arresting set these men brought with them! This being my 3rd or 4th KSE experience I can honestly say I have never once witnessed a bad performance that I can recall. This was, however, the 1st time I had seen them with newly rejoined original frontman Jesse Leach. 
 
 Now as I said before, I have never seen a bad performance from the KSE boys with Howard Jones at the helm. Nevertheless, during this set the entire unit seemed to be brimming with an energy and enthusiasm of a brand new act. This could have been contributed to Jesse reentering the fold, or maybe the just had a really, REALLY good day. Regardless, these guys slayed it! 
 
 At one point during their set, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz addressed the crowd between songs:
 
 “Alright, if you’re a girl on someone’s shoulders, you must follow the cardinal rule: Tits out or get down. If you’re up there blocking people’s view you gotta give em something to look at!”
 
 That certainly worked.
 
 Well done Adam. Well done. 
 
 Closing out the set with their classic “End Of Heartache”, KSE left the stage with everyone clamoring for more. The sustained roar of the crowd was well deserved too. They gave it their all and then some. 
Full setlist here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/killswitch-engage/2014/san-manuel-amphitheater-san-bernardino-ca-3cc3de3.html
 
 1st up on the main stage: Hellyeah
 
 AKA: the 2nd of 3 challenging acts for best supporter. 
 
 Jose Mangin was again there to intro the band, this time explaining how it could well be the excessive drinking & smoking over the weekend that has decimated his voice. 
 
 Makes sense. 
 
 These guys are a serious force to be reckoned with. The 3 times I had seen them previous were really good sets. This one was fuckin great! Their new album “Blood For Blood” could very easily be classed as their best yet. Easy to tell then why half their set was taken from that same album. 
 
 Apart from the usual mayhem taking place in the pit immediately in front of the stage, singer Chad Gray took exception to those higher up that still had their asses in their seats. 
 
 “Nobody sits at a badass party, and this is a badass party!”
 
 Mr Gray clearly commands some respect as damn near everyone in the amphitheater rose to their feet at this statement. 
 
 The band continued churning out hits throughout the set, even stopping at one point to pay tribute to a few fallen brothers of metal; Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman, Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell, and Slipknot’s Paul Gray. Classy move. 
 Full setlist here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/hellyeah/2014/san-manuel-amphitheater-san-bernardino-ca-bcc3dd6.html
 
 Atreyu were next up. The stage setup was simple but had a very nice contrast to it. The drummer sat on a black riser with his white kit. 8 white cabs were stacked 2 high on either side of him and behind a simple plain black backdrop with big white Atreyu letters spelled out across it. Not your average drummer, Brandon Saller not only shares vocal duties with Alex Varkatzas (he supplying the clean, Alex the screams) but Brandon also brings with him 3 kick drums. 
 
 Whatever, average is boring anyway. 
 
 The California fivesome banged out an 8 song set that even included an understandably heavier cover version of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name”. It actually worked very well. 
 
 Another win, and there were many on this weekend. 
 Full setlist here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/atreyu/2014/san-manuel-amphitheater-san-bernardino-ca-13cc3dd5.html
 
 Now for TECH N9NE. 
 
 I checked him out a bit before making my way to Knotfest and was very eager to see this performance not only because the man is quite talented but also to see how well the solitary rap act of the weekend would gel with the metal masses. 
 
 He arrived on stage supported by 1 guitarist, 1 bassist, & 1 drummer. 
 
 A very, very spastic drummer. 
 
 I don’t think the skinsman even had a throne behind his kit. If he did he sure as hell didn’t use it! If this crazy ass wasn’t standing and beating the drums from the back then he would be running around it attacking from every angle, even frequently standing on the front of his kick and beating his drums from there with his back to the crowd. 
 
 A serious showman this one. 
 
 TECH himself seemed on his A game as well. Throughout the unbelievably energetic set the Kansas City rapper never missed a beat. What’s more is that my question as to gelling capability with the crowd was made abundantly clear. This would not even come close to being an issue for TECH. This man and his supporting crew held everyone’s attention with steadfast ability. Perhaps not the easiest task for a rapper at a metal festival, but TECH N9NE made it look like child’s play. 
 
 I’m more than won over. 
 
 Full setlist here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/tech-n9ne/2014/san-manuel-amphitheater-san-bernardino-ca-1bcc3dd4.html
 
 Next up. the 3rd of the 3 challengers for best supporting act of the weekend. 
 
 Denmark’s Volbeat. 
 
 This is another act that is consistently & unfairly shit on by some of the metal community. The majority of the “issues” I hear people venting about is singer Michael Poulsen’s voice. Now a voice can be a very polarizing bone of contention when it comes to bands. More people than I can count can’t stand Rush due to Geddy Lee’s vocals. It’s too bad too because they are 1 of the most talented 3 pieces that maybe have ever formed. Their live act rivals that of some of the best out there as well. 
 
 I’m getting side tracked now, back to it…
 
 Poulsen is a huge Elvis fan and takes a lot of his inspiration from him which in turn translates into a more unique sound than we readily hear these days. Naturally, anything that’s different will bring with it haters by the boat load. Again, that’s their loss. Volbeat’s live sets have been great every time I have seen them previously, 2 or 3 times I think, and this time was no exception. This was them at the best I have seen them.
 
 I don’t know if it was the atmosphere, the incredible lineup, being part of the biggest metal festival in the States, or a combination of it all but these bands being at their best seemed to be a recurring theme this weekend. It was quite something to be a part of. 
 
 Opening with one of my personal favorites of theirs, “Hallelujah Goat”, the Danes wasted no time whipping the crowd into a frenzy. We were even treated to a nice little Volbeat version of “Ring Of Fire” that lead straightaway into “Sad Man’s Tongue” in a seamless transition. Throughout the set we had the pleasure of bearing witness to some tremendous solos from the foursome as well. Another little treat we were privy to was the inclusion of Napalm Death singer Mark Greenway on stage to sing his part in “Evelyn” from the band’s 2010 effort “Beyond Heaven/Above Hell”.
 
 Volbeat’s live act is one that should be experienced by any fan of metal. Of course you will never please everyone, there will always be that stubborn faction that refuse to alter their viewpoint on anything regardless of evidence brought to their attention supporting the contrary, but I suspect there would be at least a few converts. 
 
 We were also given a little teaser of a new track the band is currently working on. We were not given a name but believe me when I tell you it would be no stretch of the imagination to say this is probably the heaviest song this Danish outfit as yet to put forth. I’m excited to hear the finished product whenever that may be. 
 Full setlist here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/volbeat/2014/san-manuel-amphitheater-san-bernardino-ca-13cc3d05.html
 
 The stage was now set for a group fronted by a man that seems to be predominantly waking up on the wrong side of the bed. 
 
 Led by the ever-pissed Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch hit the stage with force opening with “Under & Over It” from the “American Capitalist” record from 2011. There is little in the FFDP catalog that doesn’t hit with force for that matter.
 
 “Turn off that spotlight, ” Moody chastised the stage hands between songs, “I’m not Axl Rose, I don’t need that shit.”
 
 In a move that had previously brought a wave of criticism towards the band when it was filmed from a prior event and posted online, Moody brought a young girl out on stage with the permission from her father to help him sing “Burn MF” from the 1st half of their latest double effort “The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell”.
 
 It’s just a little profanity people. Calm the fuck down. There are far wore things young girls can be exposed to these days. 
 
 This was followed by a skeleton suit clad Jeremy Spencer employing an impressive drum solo on a glowing red kit. 
 
 TECH N9NE joined the FFDP boys on stage to assist with their 2nd to last song, the LL Cool J cover “Mama Said Knock You Out”, to rousing cheers. 
 
 “I’m not leaving this stage until I’m good and ready. That’s just the kind of asshole I am,” Moody announced to the crowd. Then before jumping into the final song, Moody had everyone with a cell phone or lighter to put them in the air, quite the sight in the dark San Barnardino air. With that, the boys knocked out “The Bleeding” as a final farewell. 
 Full setlist here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/five-finger-death-punch/2014/san-manuel-amphitheater-san-bernardino-ca-3cc3dcb.html
 
 …..and we’re back to the brightly lit blue curtain as we eagerly await the return of the 9. 
 
 Again the constant chatter among the crowd was of predictions as to what we would see the Knot open with on this eve. Guesses ranged from every corner of their extensive repertoire. 
 
 My guess was that they would open with the 1st 2 tracks from “.5: The Gray Chapter.” It would be “XIX” over the PA before jumping straight into the explosive “Sarcastrophe” as the curtain raised on night 2. I really hoped that would be the case. It is far too good a song not to be played live. 
 
 Then as the lights dimmed and the cheers rose, the familiar tones rose from the darkness as a voice began to tell us, “This song is not for the living. This song is for the dead…..”
 
 Oh sweet fuck yes! 
 
 As “XIX” wound down, the curtain was raised and “Sarcastrophe” was given its live world debut. What a debut it was too. An absolutely crushing tune that’s perfect for setting the tone for another absolutely crushing night. 
 
 How do you follow up a brilliant new track like that? You have Sid cue up a classic cut from Iowa with his trademark, “8…7…6…6…6…5…4…3…2…1…”
 
 And the crowd loses their shit. 
 
 The Heretic Anthem. Definitely a fan favorite. 
 
 After the mayhem of that track subsided the masked men came back with “My Plague”, another  great Iowa track, one that apparently hadn’t been played live since 2002. 
 
 The boys were firing on all cylinders again on night 2 with no trace of rust nor fatigue to be seen.
 
 At the culmination of that, Corey Taylor circled back towards the drums. As he passed AV he gave him a pat on the ass before bumping knuckles with JW over the front of the kit and with that, “The Devil In I” got its live world premier. There was no shortage of pyro for this number either with giant balls and jets of flames shooting out from all over the stage throughout the song. 
 
 While a couple songs were played on both nights, the only 1 to get a repeat from the new album was “Custer” and it is quite clear as to why. As I mentioned in my night 1 review, this song is amazing beyond words to witness live. It would have almost been a crime NOT to have played it twice. 
 
 Closing with “(sic)” and “Surfacing” respectively, the Knot left San Manuel Amphitheater ecstatic & in shambles. Two nights of brutality from the 9 man mega-unit could not have come off better. Not a negative word could be heard from the 50,000+ maggots as they filtered out the gates. 
 Full setlist here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/slipknot/2014/san-manuel-amphitheater-san-bernardino-ca-bcc3dca.html
 
 After tragedy, adversity, and many, many years, our band was finally back and at their rightful place at the top. 
 
 Welcome back Slipknot. You know you were missed. We now look forward to many more years of your unique brutality ahead.  
 

 

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