Words & Photos by Will Wittmann
What does that mean exactly? What does it look like? Do we go by the dismissive, short handed derivative “fan”, or do we lean closer to the Merriam-Webster definition of “a person who is extremely enthusiastic about and devoted to some interest or activity”. If you were any one of the thousands that packed the Legacy Arena in Birmingham on Tuesday, then you likely side with the latter definition. From the youngest teenager to the oldest grandparent, we watched as the line outside began to shrink and the open spaces on the floor began to disappear. All of the differences in the outside world began to dissipate as a bond was formed through every single person sharing the same excitement. All waited in nothing short of frantic anticipation for what was to come.
Then, a thin veil of silence fell over the crowd as if they were preparing for war. No sooner, as if soldiers themselves, Wage War ambushed the stage with a bone chilling rendition of their hit “Relapse”. Within the blink of an eye it seemed, they already had the crowd in the palm of their hand for nearly an hour leading into their final song, gracing us one final time with the heaviest possible performance of their flagship track “Stitch”. Delivering a closer as if to challenge the next act to “top this”.
Before you knew it, the stage went black and the lights came up over an already exhausted sea of people gathering their faculties. It was at this moment you began to see small groups form, sharing past concert experiences, their hopes for the show, and everything in between. It was in this moment you began to see what it is that makes Slipknot so special: an ability to bring so many different types of people together.
Not having a single moment of separation, the crowd effectively got their breath back, instantly as the lights began to flicker. In this moment a chill took over the arena as a layer of fog began to leak out of the sides of the stage curtain bearing a twenty foot tall Black Widow. As the light became solid an electric guitar’s single note cut through the hush like a knife. With little regard for the crowd being ready or not, the curtain dropped leaving us with the sight of Maria Brink standing atop a platform of smoke as if an angel. What came next, was something so far beyond angelic though. As if the most beautiful disaster, Maria let out a mind shattering wail that would make a Banshee jealous, and left the crowd’s mouths agape. The members of In This Moment then did exactly what their opening song said they were going to do; Burn. For the entirety of their seven song set, In This Moment lit the stage, their instruments, and every single person in the building on fire. With a theatrical quality most will go their entire lives without seeing rivaled, what took place on stage went so much further than a concert, transcending to a spiritual experience that is truly on par with a core memory. This is one of those memories, sets, bands that stick with you until you die and make you an instant fan.
Well, what comes after the peak of a roller coaster? The drop. As soon as the final note of “Whore”, In This Moment’s final song, burned out like an ember, we saw the crowd as drained as one could think a person could be. This time, we did not see the hustle and bustle, the fervent conversation, or anything resembling it. We saw a group of people who knew what was about to happen. For some of them, it was a happening that they had experienced numerous times, for others it was what they had waited a lifetime for. Regardless, the weight of the moment was bone breaking to everyone, the anticipation enough to drive a man insane. What could possibly top the decadence of In This Moment’s set? What could possibly top the rage of Wage War’s set? Only something that could encompass both qualities and turn it up to 11. What could that be? One word: Slipknot.
Just like that, all of the anticipation was replaced with ecstasy, all of the weight removed, and within a single note of ‘Disasterpiece’, Slipknot had what they would continue to have for the next two hours – every single person in the building by their neck. With an intensity rarely seen, Corey Taylor and his band tore through a 23 year collection of the band’s hits ranging from ‘Wait and Bleed’, released in 1999 on their self-titled album all the way up to ‘Unsainted’ and ‘Solway Firth’, off their most recent album, We Are Not Your Kind. Every single song, every single line, every single word being echoed by the crowd with such an energy that it were as if the lyrics were engrained not in their memory but their soul. As if these were their own words. I sat and watched, and banged my head if we are honest, all the while a crowd ceased to have any difference and became a family through a shared love of what they were experiencing. For the aggression in the music, the power of the band, the sheer ferocity of the crowd, it was the most enamoring wreck you could witness. A true wonder made of twisted steel and heavy metal.
So, what is a fanatic? A young man in the front row wearing a replica mask of one worn by Mick Thompson, also known as #7, Slipknot’s guitarist, I believe described it best when I asked him between sets “Why Slipknot?”
“Because they make me feel like I belong”. So maybe fanatic doesn’t have a singular definition, maybe it is a fluctuating answer based on who you ask. All I know, is whether it is the music, the theatrics, the energy, or the family, Slipknot has a fanatic in me.
TheWaster.com | Fanatic