Knot Fest returned to San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, CA. for the second consecutive year on October 24th & 25th featuring headliner Judas Priest on Saturday and Slipknot would close out the festival Sunday evening.
The three day Musical Festival was created by the Heavy metal band Slipknot in 2012. The line ups have always been packed with some of the best metal bands ever including LAMB OF GOD, LIMP BIZKIT, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, DANZIG, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and DEFTONES to name a few. So it wasn't surprising to see the band listing for this years epic return including headliner JUDAS PRIEST, KORN, BRING ME TO THE HORIZON, MASTODON, TRIVIUM, CORRISION OF CONFORMITY, CLUTCH, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and the list goes on.
Initially I was only going to cover day one (Saturday) for On Request Magazine, but the other individual wasn't able to make the second day so I opted to fill in. This was a great decision I made, as I hadn't experienced one of these festivals and knew I was in for an amazing ride!
Saturday morning came and the weather was utterly perfect! I really was expecting hot blistering temperatures since the last few weeks had been unbearable. But on this day and through the weekend we were blessed with mild temperatures, sunny skies and a nice cool evening breeze. I was also elated to find that when I arrived at the festival, parking was FREE! This was incredible and the weekend already started off with a great beginning. Most times we tend to get gouged on the front end coupled with ticket prices and other expenses, but not the case at San Manual Ampitheater.
There were four stages in total. The main stage was located ontop of a hill and the other three stages were on the lower level. The festival was set remotely in the San Bernardino Hills with open skies and mountain tops. Breath taking!
Inclusive of this faultless line up of some of the best bands in the world, Knotfest jacked up the festival with carnival rides, extreme motocross arial tricks, stilt walkers, fire breathers and a fighting dome. Not to mention the dozens of vendors selling music memorabilia and an eclectic array of food vendors. There just wasn't enough time to see and be part of it all!
Since there was a 3 song limit for photographers and the stages were a distance apart, I knew I would have to sacrafice not watching bands complete sets, so I could obtain the coverage of more bands. Time to focus in and work.
Some of the exceptional performances that arose to mind from Saturday were At The Gates, a death metal band from Gothenburg, Sweden. Earth Crisis whom are a metalcore band from Syracuse, NY that really hit the stage hard. You will find yourself challenged deciding which musician to focus on. Straight up great music! Then Rapper Ice-T and Body Count got the crowd surfing stirring up the dust singing "Cop Killer" and "Talk Shit". We were led to the main stage where Corrosion Of Conformity, Trivium, Mastodon each delivered stellar over the top performances pushing each other. Korn was up next and I had been anticipating their show for weeks. It has been over a decade since I last saw them and now upfront with camera in hand.
As the band came out on the stage, the fans cheered louder and louder and it felt like they were the headling band at this point. They drummed into "Blind" and Jonathan Davis came out front looked at the crowd and shouted "Are You Ready"? Everyone went absolutely crazy including myself. Jonathan Davis radiated an emotional powerful performance thrusting his head up and down and side by side as he gripped his personalized mic stand that appeared to be a womans body naked laying back with an alien head with it's tongue out.(See pictures) He was in the zone and we were all on the ride together. Korn could of stayed on stage all night long, they were that Great!! "Coming Undone" and "Falling Away From Me" were just a couple of the many amazing songs delivered in their set. Korn stole the show!
Judas Priest are the godfathers of metal. They have been one of my all-time favorite bands since the early 80's and still are. Getting the chance to shoot them and capture their performance has sent me into heaven. Rob Halford, Glen Tipton and Ian Hill have been playing for over 40 years with 17 studio albums. Back now on the 2015 Redeamer Of Souls Tour headling the Knotfest.
A large Judas Priest banner scaled the backdrop for the stage as the curtains opened and Black Sabbath's "War Pig" was playing overhead. Then out came the band members followed by Rob dressed in his black leather with chains and studs wearing his cop sunglasses holding the mic high pointing in the air. The metal god has arrived! The crowd was going nuts and this was even larger than I had expected. They rolled right into "Dragonaut" from Defenders of Faith and "Metal Gods" from the British Steel album. Songs spanning from decades of albums including "Victim Of Changes", "Turbo Lover" and "Screaming For Vengeance". Rob had removed his leather jacket by now and gave us a treat by rolling out on his motorcycle mid-show on "Breaking the Law". They were really rockin' the Knot Fest and never let up. 16 songs in total wrapping up the show with "Pain Killer" for their encore. Judas Priest just forever etched his metal-god existence amongst new and old fans.
What a perfect day 1 at Knot Fest.
Sunday Day 2 of Knot Fest appeared to have even more intensity than the first day. I'm sure for the repeat offenders such as myself there was some soreness and a bit of a cough from all the dust in the pit that was constantly stirring up, but this was not going to keep the die hard fans away. As a matter of fact I believe the second day was SOLD OUT, at least that is what I heard the actual number of attendence was somewhere in the 40,000's.
Early afternoon I decided to walk around and check out some of the activities and take a break from shooting bands to get a complete feel for the festival. There were so many activities going on it was really a mass sensory overload that caused a bit of anxiety within because I wanted to see everything, but it was physically impossible. I caught the tail end of the motocross exhibition of arial insanity, then I met some friends over at the Cold Cock tent and listened in on others stories and adventures from the previous day. I also decided to eat at this kebob stand and the food was delicious. Then I headed over to stage 2 & 3 which was on the lower level of the hill. What was magnificent is when one band finished playing the stage rotated and the band up next was ready to go. This helped keep the crowd elevated as there wasn't a break in between.
I caught Cannibal Corpse whom are a Death Metal band from Buffalo, NY and apparently have quite the cult following. Up next was Suicidal Tendencies and they literally exploded on stage. Front man Mike Muir had everyone locked in on him. He was on fire trotting across the stage and pumping up the crowd. He got the pit all riled up especially when he broke into "Institutionalized". Then madness broke loose when he encouraged fans to come join him on stage. Fans went crazy and were just swimming over security to be part of the action, it was Awesome! The set ended with Mike jumping out into the crowd giving everyone hi-fives.
Now we all headed up the hill to the main stage and first up was Rapper Ghostface Killah with Mobb Deep. It was hard to engage with them especially just coming off the intense set from Suicidal Tendencies, I just couldn't feel the fit and when I looked around that seemed to be the consensus. Clutch was up next and picked the tempo back up. They are more of a rock, blues stoner funk style with exceptional grooves. I really dug them. Bring Me The Horizon came all the way from Sheffield, England bringing forth a new generation of youth, this alternative rock/metal band is fueled by lead singer Oliver Sykes emotional lyrics. His passion and rage on stage will pull you into his stories like "True Friends" and "Happy Song". This band is tight and the light show was incredible. Their set consisted of 11 songs in total and ended with "Drown". I thought they delivered one of the best shows at the festival.
Slipknot are clearly one of the largest metal bands ever and always deliver and over the top performance with dual drumming risers, balls of flames across the stage and a spectacular slide show. They opened up with a new song "Sarcastrophe" and pummeled through some of their mega hits "Wait and Bleed", "Before I Forget", "Me Inside" and "Prosthetics". Lead singer Corey Taylor is like a General on stage leading his army into Mayhem and captivating all 40,000 fans. Slipknot closed out the evening with "People=Shit" and "Surfacing".
The crowd started to exit but many remained by the fire pit talking about the bands and festival. It was incredible to see so many happy people sharing the same passion together.
Knot Fest was one of the best musical festivals I have ever been to, but I believe with an addition of more Kick Ass women fronted bands or all women bands could prove to be an asset.
See you next year!
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