Knotfest Roadshow 2022 featuring Slipknot @ Choctaw Grand Theater, Durant, OK

Words and photos by Scott Rowe
When I think of the mecca's of modern rock music, I tend to think of global festivals such as England's Glastonbury or Download Festivals, or the American trifecta of Louder than Life, Aftershock, or Welcome to Rockville. Those festivals showcase some of the world's best rock talents, usually to massive crowds with numbers in the tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands. It's hard to imagine such crowds if you've never been to an experience like that, as I did when I went to the Blockbuster Rock Fest back in 1997 and being one of the 400,000 in attendance. It's quite the sight to behold. So fast-forward 25 years to 2022 and it felt like a new mecca of rock was created in southeast Oklahoma, as Slipknot took over the Choctaw Grand Theater for two hours. Two hours of mayhem took place in a space with a modest capacity of 3,000, what I can only imagine as being one of the smallest Slipknot shows in recent memory and what had to have been a logistical nightmare to accommodate a full-scale arena show into a theater within a casino. With all that said, the show went without a hitch and the 3,000 in attendance were in for a treat.

The show's opener were the Floridan, five-piece Wage War; technically a four-piece tonight, as bassist Chris Gaylord was not among the band at this show. Wage War was a last-minute replacement for fellow metalcore brethren, Jinjer, who stepped away from the Knotfest Roadshow to tend to their families in Ukraine following the Russian invasion of their country. From posts via Twitter, the band's families are well, which is great news to hear. Godspeed, Ukraine. On with the show. It didn't take long from Wage War to get the ball rolling within the Grand Theater, showcasing their metalcore sound to a near capacity crowd, which was obviously a welcome sight at their 6:30 start time. Blanketed in darkness outside of the pulsing strobes on stage, the foursome burned through eleven songs in less than an hour, focusing on 2021's release, Manic, which accounted for seven of the eleven songs performed.

Batting second was the ever-theatrical metal band, In This Moment, who is fronted by the incomparable, Maria Brink. Prior to coming on stage, in a respectful gesture, the theater speakers played Foo Fighters' "My Hero", paying tribute to the Foo's late drummer, Taylor Hawkins. It was well-received, getting a nice ovation from the Choctaw faithful. Once the music subsided, the real show began. Known for their elaborate costumes and production, In This Moment did not disappoint in these areas. Kicking off their set with "Burn", a track off of their 2012 release, Blood, Brink and company showed why their set is much more than music, it's a full-on, theatric experience. The production is the band's biggest weapon, but in my humble opinion, it's also their largest flaw. The amount of time between songs is glaring, typically a few to several minutes pass, leaving the band only to perform seven songs in a 50-minute set. While those songs are exquisite in sound and construction, I honestly wish they would cut down on the wasted set time and perform more songs.

As the clock struck 9pm in Durant, OK, the lights dimmed to Billie Jo Spears' "Get Behind Me Satan and Push" and the crowd roared in anticipation. Having already seen the band perform a handful of times, I had a good idea of what I was in for. But for the hundreds, if not thousands that had not seen a Slipknot show before, well, there were in for a wild ride. The music starts and only continues to build, until Corey Taylor yells "Nobody stop me" and a flash of pyro pops and the curtain covering the nine members of Slipknot is lifted and the show literally starts with a bang. Starting the show off with "Disasterpiece" from 2001's Iowa, the band hits their stride with no delay, showcasing why they're one of the better rock bands on the road today.

Again, the fact that this is a full-scale arena production that was tucked into the intimate confines of the Grand Theater, only made this show more enjoyable. Everyone got a front-row seat to the mayhem that is a Slipknot show, something that Taylor touches on multiple times through the set, on what it is to be a Slipknot fan and the dark thoughts they all share. He makes light of his surroundings, saying that this show may be the most surreal in his career, noting the crazies on the floor, those who no longer mosh in the seats, and those up top sitting down "enjoying their steak". He also pokes fun at the proximity to Texas and the crowd ratio of Texans to Oklahomas and his willingness to pit them against each other. 

The crowd matches the energy from the artists on stage, pumping their fists and raising their hands on command. It was actually pretty cool to see, because when Taylor yelled a request, the entire floor obliged and followed the leader, something you rarely see in a full-on arena show. Straight up Freddie Mercury shit. The show was laden with some of the greatest hits from SlipknotIowa, and All Hope is Gone, including "Wait and Bleed", "Sulfur", "The Heretic Anthem", and the rarely-played "Snuff". The show was packed full of pyrotechnics and flash bangs, topped off with bassist Paul Gray (or #2) spitting flames out of his bass during "The Devil In I".

The set was finished with another oldie but goldie, "Spit It Out", a song that has throughout the years been assigned to encores. Not to be outdone, the band returns to the stage to blaze through one of my favorites from Iowa, "People = Shit". The song is pure energy and once again, the crowd does what they can to match the band's intensity. Following "People..", Slipknot goes back to their roots and performs the first song off of their first album, "(sic)". Outside of "Eyeless", this is one of my favorite Slipknot songs to see live and proves why it's a mainstay in their present day setlists. Staying on the nostalgia train, the band elects to end the show with another Slipknot song, "Surfacing". It's the exclamation point, the cherry on top, the end all be all. It's collective mayhem on all sides, from the fans losing their minds to the band melting faces on stage; literally, there's lots of flames blowing off at the end of the song. Like I mentioned earlier, I've seen this band a handful of times and this may have been the most enjoyable of them all. But that won't keep me from wanting to see them again when they come back.

Photos of the show are below:

Knotfest Roadshow 2022 featuring Slipknot @ Choctaw Grand Theater, Durant, OK Knotfest Roadshow 2022 featuring Slipknot @ Choctaw Grand Theater, Durant, OK Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on March 29, 2022 Rating: 5
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