FESTIVAL REVIEW: CHICAGO OPEN AIR 2016 – Day 3 (Sunday)
The third and final day of Chicago’s Open Air festival began somewhat differently than the previous mornings, with an abrupt reminder that even metal cannot escape Mother Nature’s temperament. She brought forth an early morning fury unlike any I’ve witnessed all year, with torrential rains and a light show that nearly compared to Rammstein’s performance on Friday night. Despite minor, temporary flooding in media area, stages, and for a few unfortunate vendors, the show went on with only slight setbacks in scheduling.
Rain or shine, this morning’s second stage opener by Gemini Syndrome was one I had no intention of missing, and judging by the size of the crowd gathered after the venue’s gates opened, I was not alone in my quest. Frontman Aaron Nordstrom penetrated each and every member in the crowd right down to our souls, with a ferocity unlike any opening band thus far, second or main stage. Hailing from Los Angeles, Nordstrom along with members Charles Lee Salvaggio and Daniel Sahagun on guitars, Brian Medina on the kit, and bassist Alessandro Paueri opened with “Pleasure and Pain”. Wrapping up their seven-song set with their single “Remember We Die” and “Stardust”, these gents not only exceeded all expectations of a band concluding their sixth year together, but also will inevitably become a mainstage headliner in no time.
After Upon a Burning Body and We Came as Romans, who played sets clearly not for the faint-hearted, All That Remains took to stage, with Asking Alexandria having cancelled due to some unforeseen situation. Originating in Springfield, Massachusetts – and with seven studio albums worldwide to their credit, All That Remains vocalist Philip Labonte, guitarists Oli Herbert and Mike Martin, Aaron Patrick on bass, and accompanied by drummer Jason Costa, laid down serious ear-splitting hardcore metal with non-stop riffs displayed in “Stand Up”, “This Calling”, and set-closer “Two Weeks”.
A little later, I meandered through the mulling masses to witness firsthand the hard driving force of none other than Corrosion of Conformity. I can still hear/feel vibrations from their opening of “Vote With a Bullet”, with the slow-yet-powerful riffs of guitarist Woody Weatherman. Created in 1982 down in Raleigh, North Carolina, Pepper Keenan and crew bestowed upon us their stoner metal/sludge metal in other classics as “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds”, not only causing me to become utterly speechless, but also put me in a mad rush to purchase each and every disc dropped in their prosperous career.
For those of you anxiously awaiting my review of BabyMetal, in all honesty I chose not to witness this phenomenon sweeping over the metal waves due to time restraints and not wanting to miss the highly anticipated Bullet for my Valentine. A wise decision on my part, as this heavy metal band has shared stages over the last two years with such names as Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and Iron Maiden to name just a few, and is showing no signs of limiting their potential both in the studio and on stage. Halfway through their set, following “You Want a Battle?”, a crowd-pleaser, Michael “Moose” Thomas let loose with an epic drum solo that even John Bonham would have taken notice of.
Next up was Marilyn Manson, ready to begin his ferocity of a dictator-like persona across the stage. While on top of his game, Manson is not the spring chicken of past performances, as classics like “The Dope Show”, “Sweet Dreams” (Eurythmics cover), and “The Beautiful People” were met with a thunderous approval and raw energy by his followers. While controversy follows Manson everywhere, and Chicago’s show wasn’t any different (mostly pertaining to a short set and half stage set-up), his is still one of the best live headliner gigs that one shouldn’t miss.
Killswitch Engage band members Jesse Leach, on vocals, Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz guitars), bassist Mike D’Antonio and percussionist Justin Foley exhibited their New England style of metalcore to the utmost perfection. Together for nearly 17 years, their seven-song set proved to be invaluable in closing the second stage performances, Keeping in mind that the last two headliners on the mainstage were both Five Finger Death Punch and Slipknot, these boys from Massachusetts had absolutely no problem keeping the audience in place throughout their performance.
During their rendition of “The Bleeding”, Ivan Moody witnessed a young girl by the name of Chylynne singing each and every word from their debut studio album ‘The Way of the Fist’ (2007), and brought her onstage to sing along much to the amazement of her parents and audience as well. Las Vegas natives Moody, along with Jason Hook, Chris Kael, Zoltan Bathory and Jeremy Spencer laid down some badassery of beats, and won over a seemingly rabid crowd practically demanding the closing of this year’s fest with the bizarre antics of Slipknot. But Five Finger Death Punch more than brought their game faces with such superb singles as “Got Your Six”, “Bad Company” (Bad Company cover), “Wrong Side of Heaven” and more, making up a ten song set.
Corey Taylor, just fresh from surgery following an issue with neck vertebrae, took the stage barely a half hour later, unlike any frontman with similar restrictions. The highly-anticipated performance of a thirteen song set – three being encores – “Surfacing”, “Duality”, and “Spit It Out”, opened with “The Negative One”. Taylor, Mick Thomson, Jim Root, Craig Jones, Sid Wilson, Shawn Crahan, Chris Fehn, Alessandro Venturella and Jay Weinberg fed the already-frenzied audience with not only treasured hits “Killpop”, “The Heretic Anthem”, and “The Devil In I”, but also with a stage presence and performance becoming of the Slipknot tradition. Definitely unique and exquisite entertainers in their own self-created reality, Slipknot were the perfect three day festival closer without hesitation.
As the festival drew to a close on the back of three magically memorable metal madness days, people realised that those who missed out this year had better save their paper and synchronize their work schedules around well in advance to make it to the next edition.