Even prior to gates opening and the PA going live, there were thousands of fans that filed in line early, eager to get the 2021 edition of Knotfest Iowa underway. That palpable excitement was recuperated with the kind of energy onstage indicative too long a lay off from getting lost in a full day of festival performances.
Charged with the tall task of hitting the stage first for one of the most anticipated festivals of the season, local crew done good Widow 7 skipped the subtleties and quickly got to the business bringing fans together. Among the band's more convincing stanzas included the live translation of their latest track "Hopeless," - an energized cut that came with the compelling need to "bang your fucking head" - per the call of the band's frontman, Mark Leon.
Taking to the crowd to get better acquainted, Leon managed to corral the kind of energy that isn't typical of the first band out the gate with an enthusiastic 30-minute set that had familiar pangs of genre giants like Sevendust.
Keeping the Iowan focus in frame, Des Moines destructors Vended made their intent clear from the very beginning of their stage time - absolute mayhem. Rather than court the crowd, frontman Griffin Taylor issued adamant commands in rousers like "Bloodline" and their introductory single "Asylum" - "fucking move".
Hitting the early faithful that spread across the field with their visceral barrage, the circle pit transformed into more of a violent swarm - particularly on the band's finale in "Antibody" - setting a scaled precedent for the kind of release that will likely be theme of the day.
"What's up maggots, we're Gatecreeper from the desert."
And just like that, the Arizona death dealers wielded their decimating brand of heavy that lay waste to the early afternoon congregation. Armed with a no-bulshit approach to their set, the band unloaded with tracks like "From the Ashes" and the opening crusher "Ruthless" that resonated as a modern continuation of legendary predecessors like Entombed and Morbid Angel.
Keeping in line with the band's M.O. steering clear of the spectacle and allowing the music to speak for itself, they played a new track the second song in and even managed to omit the title - getting that lost in music. Between vocalist Chase Mason's guttural growl and the relentlessness of guitarists Eric Wagner and Isreal Garza, it was evident that metal's new school of prospects know how to keep it classic while showcasing something new.