Even after a complete festival day that included performances from giants of the genre spanning from Megadeth, Lamb of God, Gojira, and Trivium to the next generation of trailblazers in $uicideboy$, Fever 333, Turnstile and Knocked Loose - the anticipation in the late hours of Knotfest Iowa grew palpably thick as the evening's finale drew near. Under a wash of Iowan moonlight, some 30,000 devoted maggots filed onto the Balloon field at Indianola just a short drive outside of Slipknot's native Des Moines, IA for a homecoming celebration that would not only exceed the hype, it would make history.
With AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" blaring over the PA, there was a growing sense that whatever was going to happen next, would likely add a new chapter in the veer-evolving narrative of Slipknot. Such was the case two years ago when the band set an attendance record at the Iowa State Fair - when nearly 18,000 fans turned up. In 2021, after an unprecedented pandemic and a complete halt to live music and mass gatherings of all kinds, Slipknot once again returned home and nearly doubled the draw of 2019.
If the significance of the evening wasn't already apparent, the collective anticipation of 30,000 fans waiting with bated breath in the middle of a corn field offered a lasting visual emphasis of just how magical shit was about to get. The weight of the moment had reached critical mass - the damn would begin to break under a hue of blue light as opening melody of "Unsainted" compelled every voice within an earshot to sing along in unison.
Slipknot was home.
Opening with the anthem of the We Are Not Your Kind era, immediately followed by the controlled chaos of the definitive "Disasterpiece", Slipknot set the standard for evening in what would be a marathon display of power, passion, and persistence.
Taking the opportunity to frame the importance of the set, Corey Taylor confided how good it was to be home and further more, issued a challenge for those up to the task. "Are you ready to help me go down in fucking history tonight?!" To which the sold out crowd replied with a roar that only grew louder as the set list unfolded. Rallying the fans behind the notion of penning a new page in the history of Slipknot, the band ripped though a succession of essentials in "Nero Forte", "Before I Forget, "The Heretic Anthem" and "Psychosocial" that galvanized the fans that augmented the spectacle taking place onstage.
For as much as tonight was about Slipknot, it was equally about the collective culture that everyone on the field was proud to participate in.
Showcasing the band's flair for dramatics and flexing their theatric sensibilities, selections ranging from "The Devil in I", "Solway Firth", and "Vermilion" created a immersive experience that proved especially effective standing shoulder-to-shoulder on this chilly Iowa night. The band's organic, sinister tone was on full display during this particular act and seemed to make even more sense experiencing it in the kind of cold, desolate environment in which the penchant for the darker stuff likely originated.
Punctuating this particular portion, Slipknot took on a poignant rendition of "All Out Life" that worked as both a bold assertion of individuality and a powerful testimonial to their Iowan roots which shaped their collective vision - emphatically declaring, “We are not your kind.” (Not to mention, V-Man's blowtorch hardware rigged to his bass was pretty goddamned cool.)
Charging into a medley of some of the band's most enduring cuts, songs like "Duality" and "Wait and Bleed" are among Slipknot's first hits and yet they still pack the kind of punch that could and almost should close the night for almost any other band - then again, Slipknot has proved time and again they are well more than just another band.
Upping the ante, the guys brought back a special segment of their show to further emphasize just how historic the evening was intended to be. For "Spit It Out", Slipknot finished the track by prompting all 30,000 fans to get down on the floor and jump up in the air together in what was truly an impressive show of command - literally thousands and thousands of people all coming together in celebration of nine of their own that propelled Iowa to the forefront of heavy music culture and created a true landmark within the community - this was the power of Slipknot.
For the finale, Slipknot had to unleash their most effective weapons and did so with a trifecta of tracks that not only remain fan favorites, but have arguably become the anthems forever linked with Slipknot's generational impact. From the nihilistic mantra of "People = Shit" to the absolute aggression of "(sic)", the tandem of tracks more than two decades old resonated with the same violence and volatility that skyrocketed the nine to the heights of the genre - where they have remained since.
Taking one last victory lap, the Iowan horde held court over the thongs of faithful as they, and the maggots collectively howled into the night -
Fuck it all! fuck this world!
Fuck everything that you stand for!
Don't belong! don't exist!
Don't give a shit!
Don't ever judge me!
Though "Surfacing" remains the kind of closer designed to bring the house down, tonight's rendition was less about destruction and more about creating something definitive. With both fallen brothers Joey Jordison and Paul Gray gracing the screens behind the band, the defiant spirit of one of metal's most important songs brought an already memorable night to an unforgettable crescendo. It was a sensory overload. It was an emotional purge. It was a rite of passage. It was an initiation.
It was Slipknot... in Iowa.