FESTIVAL REVIEW: CHICAGO OPEN AIR 2017 Live at Toyota Park Stadium, IL – Day 2 (Saturday)
Chicago Open Air Day 2 got underway with hard core bands Black Map, Cane Hill, Pig Destroyer and Metal Church. With Mother Nature bringing her best, the crowd quickly began to swell to much larger numbers than Friday and the bands fed off the energy.
Guitar Hero stalwarts Dragonforce featuring guitar wizards Herman Li and Sam Totman brought the crowd “Through the Fire and Flames” as they traded riffs. Vocalist Marc Hudson commanded the stage and reminded this journalist of a young Bruce Dickinson.
Next up was Avatar, the first of the triple set of costume themed acts. Based out of Sweden, the clown meets marching band act features lead singer Johannes Eckerstrom. This band proved to be no side show as they launched into heavy anthems “Hail the Apocalypse”, “Paint Me Red”, and “Smells Like a Freakshow”.
Following Avatar was hard core drum act Mushroomhead dressed in their alien masks and zombie paint. Based out of Cleveland, Ohio, the triple drum unit banged out hits like Qwerty, Nowhere to Go, and the Jason vs Freddy soundtrack “The Sun Doesn’t Rise”. Halfway thru their set, Unsaid Fate’s lead vocalist Jackie LaPonza joined the band on stage for a rendition of “Before I Die”.
Closing out the triplet, was 80s hairband knock-off Steel Panther. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of witnessing their show – words can not describe the over the top craziness. Panther is one of my favorite go to, always a great time acts. When you combine songs like “Fat Girl”, “Community Property”, and “Gloryhole” with their over the top crowd banter, the result is mind blowing. To add icing to the cake, the band invited about 4 dozen wild female fans onto the stage to close out the final 3 songs of their gig.
On a different level, the next act, Body Count featuring Ice-T, brought a completely different vibe to the crowd. Known for their controversial hit “Cop Killer”, this act is about social injustice, growing up in the LA hood, and the police brutality that goes with it. A far cry from the sexual antics of Steel Panther. Launching their set with Slayer’s “Reigning Blood”, Ice-T and company ran through “Talk Shit”, “Get Shot”, “Manslaughter”, “No Lives Matter” and “This is Why We Ride”. Showing their true grit, Vincent Price injured himself during “There Goes the Neighborhood”, but true to their image played the remainder of the set from a wheelchair.
Choosing C.O.A as one of only seven gigs this year, Godsmack and flamboyant frontman Sully Erna, immediately brought the crowd to an even higher level of excitement. Launching their set with “Whatever” from 1998’s ‘All Wound Up’, the stage stayed a constant mixture of lights and flames. Sully was in rare form and never let up during a ten minute drum dual with Shannon Larkin. With a soon to be released new CD, this will be the next can’t miss tour date when Godsmack rolls into your town.
I have to admit that when this year’s line-up was released, I shuttered at Korn playing headliner and was tempted to leave after the long day. Boy was I proven wrong. By far the best act of the entire weekend, Korn blew the 55,000 people in attendance away. A 15 song set that covered everything you could ask for from their litany of tunes, is just what this crowd needed and got to end Day 2. Opening with “Rotting in Vain” they ripped through “Here to Stay”, “Twist”, “Got the Life”, and “Coming Undone”. The latter being peppered with a fade into Queen’s We Will Rock You.
Yes, Korn was definitely the way to close out Day 2 !!