KNOTFEST is the heavy music event that Aussie fans always KNEW they needed. And finally, after several years of talking about it; Corey, Clown, Sid & Co. have delivered. Not only did they blow the house down, but they also blew the damn house up!
With a crowd estimated to be 30,000 strong, the inaugural Australian Knotfest went off with a massive BANG in Melbourne last weekend! Proving once again that heavy music has a vast and hungry audience in the land of Downunder.
The festival layout was somewhat compact compared to that of other heavy music festivals held here in the past (Download / Good Things / Soundwave / Big Day Out), with two main stages being utilized to accommodate performances of all thirteen bands.
This was good for many reasons. Firstly, no overlapping of sets which meant that no one misses out on the start or finish of their favorite bands’ sets. It also meant that there was no need to sprint from one zone of the park to another, a task that gets more and more difficult as the day progresses.
It also meant that the festival was set on a much smaller footprint, with less movement required by fans. To me, this resulted in a lack of the same atmosphere that you tend to get from the larger festivals. The color and movement attributed to people moving around from zone to zone were lost, replaced by long queues at the merch stand and food vendors. Mind you, this is a pretty minor gripe in the grand scheme of things. This festival was all about the bands, and boy there were some rippers!
UK punk/metalcore outfit MALEVOLENCE kicked off proceedings late, due to the subsequently scheduled act BAD OMENS canceling at the last minute.
Melbourne-based metalcore bands VOID OF VISION and APHA WOLF followed, both owning the large stage as though they were always meant to be there.
American outfit KNOCKED LOOSE blasted through a set of brutal metalcore that may have ‘knocked loose’ a few teeth in the pit from what I could see. By this stage, the crowd had definitely warmed up and was ready to cut loose.
SPIRITBOX are a band that I’ve been wanting to see live for ages, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. The Canadian alt-metal quartet sounded incredible and worked the stage like a veteran band. The charismatic Courtney LaPlante had the crowd eating out of her hand as she showcased her vocal strength and versatility between guttural, harsh, and clean, melodic stylings. Definitely the stand-out act up to this point in the day.
STORY OF THE YEAR appeared (on paper) to be the odd band out. But the American indie rock band from St. Louis really brought it’s A game’. The band was really engaging and it was clear from the crowd’s response that the band’s heavy/pop style was more than welcome amongst much heavier bands.
If what we had witnessed up to this point of the day is anything to go by, then the second half of the day promised to be nothing short of astounding… and so it was!
Swedish melodic death metal pioneers IN FLAMES hit the stage with full force. These guys still have it! As live bands go they are right up there with the best. They sounded absolutely incredible, nailing every note, beat, and vocal line; with a performance that would leave many bands in the genre for dead. Guitar duo Bjorn Gelotte and Chris Broderick were as in-synch as any other twin guitar attack I’ve ever seen. Definitely one of my highlights for the day.
If an entree of Swedish melodic death metal hit the spot, then the main course was set to be a joyous and gluttonous experience! It was time for AMON AMARTH! The crowd sang along with every word, cardboard swords, battle axes, and shields raised high to the sky. We triumphantly rowed our boats and raised our horns. Led by the war cries of frontman Johan Hegg, the band pounded through its set, leaving no doubt that it was here for one thing only, victory!
NORTHLANE is one of those bands that I can watch over and over. The Sydney-based metal band has a unique sound. With its hybrid blend of metalcore, futuristic toning, progressive phrasing, and emotional melodies, NORTHLANE always seems to leave the stage with nothing left in the tank. Another highlight of the day!
There’s little that hasn’t already been said about the brilliance of the final four bands – TRIVIUM, MEGADETH, PARKWAY DRIVE, and the mighty SLIPKNOT. All are incredible live metal bands. We knew what to expect and weren’t disappointed.
Always a pleasure to watch live, TRIVIUM just seems to get better and better. Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu are yet another guitar team to rival anyone, anywhere. Brilliant from start to finish, the band was as tight as I’ve ever heard them and their sound was absolutely top-notch.
It had been about 16 years since I’d seen MEGADETH live. This week I had the pleasure of seeing the band twice! Despite Dave Mustaine’s health battles in recent years, his performance was as ferocious as ever. He still has one of the best rhythm techniques of any metal guitar player out there. Although his vocals have deteriorated a bit with age, that venomous snarl still exists and he proved yet again why MEGADETH takes its rightful position as one of the legendary ‘Big 4’. This was my first chance to see Kiko and Dirk play live and I have to say, along with James Lomenzo, this is one of the strongest MEGADETH lineups since the classic Rust In Peace days. I’d almost even go as far as saying that Kiko can “out-Marty” Marty Friedman. Awesome performance!
The most successful Australian band that most Australians have never heard of… PARKWAY DRIVE! Well of course. I mean, they’re a metal juggernaut, hugely popular in Europe and South America, and increasing their audience throughout the rest of the world. And this is all happening for a reason. They are bloody brilliant! These guys know how to put on a show. Between extensive staging, massive pyro effects, a crowd-surfing Winston McCall, a string quartet and a blistering live sound, PARKWAY DRIVE continues to be the band that delivers the goods. The band was clearly emotional by the reception it received and the energy thrown forward by the crowd. For me, it was the set of the day, by far!
There’s no doubt about it, Slipknot IS one of the biggest heavy acts in the world today. Love ‘em or loathe them, there’s no denying that the band’s live show is an entertaining (albeit brutal) display of energy, anarchy, and ferocity that is hard for any band to match. The band and its stage show are such a well-oiled machine. Their performance was flawless, the sound was crystal clear and the crowd was left wanting more, much more.
Interestingly, the band’s set was halted temporarily due to a local metal personality (who shall remain nameless) deciding it was a good idea to climb to the top of one of the massive 15-meter-high speaker towers located at the back of the crowd. These are the same towers that are used to launch plumes of pyro-powered fireballs into the air. So to say it was a tad risky is probably an understatement.
All said and done, KNOTFEST AUSTRALIA appeared to be an enormous success. And with an audience so obviously hungry for more heavy festivals we can only hope that this was the first of many KNOTFESTS to come!