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Slipknot, Lamb of God, Bullet For My Valentine, Motionless In White - Darien Lake P.A.C.- Darien, NY - July 29, 2015

Review and photos by Scott Brown

Summer is the time when concert attendees start to break their piggy banks, scour the house for secret stashes, and run the gauntlet like a rabid carnivorous dog on deadly paper route, in order to attend the biggest, most gaudy concert tours and festivals. Rumors and whispers had circulated for weeks of what Slipknot; one of the premier shock rock/metal-core bands may do this summer, including talk of the band headlining a major festival. Finally, the announcement came and fans and critics alike were stunned to hear the news of Slipknot headlining their own summer tour titled, “Summer's Last Stand Tour”. A quipping name that could possibly be viewed as a rallying call to the summer's waning days, or something more ominous in reference to the festival season? Only time will tell. Concert goers who are not fans of the ever trendy "festivals" were elated at the news, as they did not have to attend an all day event, in order to just see Slipknot, and possibly have to sit through several bands they have no interest in. Some critics pointed out by going on a headlining tour during the festival season could be committing commercial suicide. Hmmm...However, Slipknot made sure they brought along some heavy hitters on tour with them, as when the concert bill was revealed, it was announced it would include the up and coming Motionless in White, along with Bullet for My Valentine and the mighty, Lamb of God.

First to hit the stage and wind the crowd up was Pennsylvania based, Motionless In White, who brought Halloween early as bassist, Devin “Ghost” Sola, was in costume as the Jackal (from the now classic horror film “Thirteen Ghosts”). The fans attending early - in order to not to miss these young shock rockers - immediately went into a frenzy. Founder, Chris Motionless (guitar/lead vocals), steered his band through their performance like a master conductor, as they ripped through the very popular songs such as “America” and “Devils Night,” keeping the fans complete attention. He didn’t stop here. Chris played up to all the photographers on hand to shoot this spectacle, as he gave each one of us, our own individual portrait to share with the world. Another amazing feat of showmanship was by Sola, who, even with the cage on his head, managed to play his bass as though he were Steve Harris. Maybe he really was possessed? Follow Motionless in White and maybe you’ll find out.

Second warm up, and teasing appetizer before the night’s headliner, was straight ahead rockers - Bullet for My Valentine. Hailing from Wales, United Kingdom and tearing up stages all over the world, Bullet are no strangers to the area, as they very often sell out local halls here, on their own headlining tours. Second song into the set, Matthew Tuck (lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist) nailed the crowd with radio smash, “Your Betrayal,” as the band were drowned out by the sound from the front row. Impressive feat by the fans in an outdoor setting, as they truly showed their love for this Welsh band. Before the set was over, members of Bullet were pointing into the crowd, and at first, everyone just thought it was the band picking out fans to interact with and bringing a smile to them. It was actually quite more than that, as I saw fans from those areas approaching security. Then I saw it, the members of the band had spotted that some irresponsible parents had brought toddlers with them, without any kind of hearing protection. The issue was quickly resolved thanks to some caring fans and the actions of Bullet for My Valentine.

Third up for the night were Lamb of God. Armed with a set of just under a dozen songs, Lamb of God was ready to cause some metal destruction. Touring in support of their eighth studio album, 'VII: Sturm and Drang,' LOG offered up two new tracks to be sampled live. “Still Echoes” and “512,” both from the new album, were received graciously by fans as well as the favorites “Ghost Walking” and the sets closer “Red Neck." Seeing several of the female fans “dancing” to “Redneck” was an odd sight to see, for sure. Maybe we have another KISS phenomenon, in which a band will cross genres and produce an unforeseen hit?

Finally, after battling the blistering heat and humidity, the dehydrated fans, and despite the bolted down seats, had battled their way to the front rows, just in time for the curtains of Slipknot to be raised - foretelling of the band's impending entry. Never having seen the Iowa based Slipknot myself, I had no idea what to expect. Opening with the song, “Sarcastrophe,” a slow and ominous track, from their fifth studio album, provided an equally ominous entry for the band. I thought fans were loud at times for the openers, but nothing prepared me for when front man, Corey Taylor, made his appearance on stage. It was so loud that the band gave the crowd a moments pause before breaking into the remainder of the group's seventeen song set. Playing four more tracks from the '.5: The Gray Chapter,' - "The Negative One," "The Devil In I,” “Custer," and “Killpop," the night evaporated quickly with the enjoyment of the new tracks, coupled with radio hits “Wait and Bleed,” “Duality,” "Psycosocial” and the Grammy hit, “Before I forget.”

Taylor took a brief moment to share his love of the area and tipped his hat (mask?) to the fans that always attend when Slipknot comes to town. He also asked the crowd to raise their hands, if this was one of several times they had seen Slipknot. About half raised their hands. The front man then asked the crowd to raise their hands if this was the first time they were to witness Slipknot. Nearly half again raised their hands. Fifteen years in existence, and so many new fans attending, goes to show the staying power of this band's creativity and influence.

As a photographer, and a fan, it took a moment to fully absorb everything going on around me. The fan wanted to just watch and absorb every minute detail of this controlled chaos unleashed upon the stage. The photographer in me didn’t know where to start, like a perplexed child in a candy store trying to go in two different directions at once. Finding the balance between the two, I was able to appreciate this virgin experience for what it truly was, a performance that will not be matched for a long time.

Aside from their awe inspring costumes, used for variety and shock, often overlooked, is the percussion talent in the band, as this nightmare circus had multiple drum risers that would spin, evoking a very real sense of a waking nightmare. As if that weren’t enough, these fiends jumped from these teetering monoliths, and strapped on marching drum kits, as they walked like tin soldiers toward the crowd. What on earth was going on?! Four and Seven, Slipknots guitarists, played up this nightmarish scene even further with their own renditions of creativity. Nine members, all doing something different makes it difficult to decide what to focus on, and wondering how it comes together. But in the case of Slipknot, 9 stands for 1. One single cohesive unit, to bring the onstage chaos into a finely orchestrated band of this level of musical magnitude is simply amazing. Slipknot does not just play a metal concert for its fans. Their shows go beyond the music. It is a full on night of sense shattering entertainment. Even someone who may not be a fan of the music, could easily be won over by the visual spectacle on stage. Pure entertainment will keep this band around for a very long time.