It’s no secret that every Slipknot tour is a cultural event within metal. The Iowan nine-piece McFuckIt meal are one of the genre’s most compelling live acts, promising not only an explosive stage spectacle but also a violent musical exorcism that will whip their fans into a Dionysian frenzy. And with the band’s Knotfest Roadshow tour kicking off next week, Slipknot obviously have no plans to slow things down or take it easy post-pandemic.
But Gehenna wasn’t built in a day. Slipknot may be masters of the stage in 2021, but that came after countless tours and festival appearances. And in keeping with the band’s MO, several of those shows have since became the stuff of legend, strange and terrifying events that maggots have heard whispers of throughout their fandom. So in honor of the band’s latest trek, we decided to look back at the gigs which took Slipknot from scabby sensation to must-see phenomenon.
Here are the 10 live shows that changed the world’s perception of metal’s most horrifying band of brothers…
10. Slipknot’s UK television debut on TFI Friday
Slipknot’s unique relationship with UK fans can probably be traced back to the melee that was their UK television debut. TFI Friday was definitely a racier musical outlet than, say, Top of the Pops, but one wonders if they were ready for the absolutely destruction that was Slipknot’s performance of “Wait and Bleed.” Not only did the Nine give the song their absolute all, they also turned the show’s cramped studio space in a roiling nightmare of human exertion. Man, if only The Muppet Show ever featured musical guests like this.
9. Knotfest 2012
That Slipknot could host their own festival was a huge statement unto itself; that they brought the house down so terrifically is a testament to the power of their live show. Fans around the world still marvel at the Knotfest 2012 performance as one of Slipknot’ most impressive events, in large part because they could tell these guys had something to prove. Watching an endless field of fans staring on raptly as the band goes apeshit on “The Blister Exist” still gives us goosebumps. Hey, if you want something legendary done, you gotta do it yourself.
8. Download 2019
Slipknot have a long, storied history with Download, and 2019’s headlining show almost felt like a tribute to that legacy. The band not only exploded onto the stage armed with material from that year’s incredible We Are Not Your Kind, but they also seemed to put on a show that was equal parts party and carnage. That Slipknot were also bringing out new percussionist Tortilla Man, who played the gig in spectacular form, just further displayed how time and line-up changes had done nothing to dull thier edge. Welcome to all-out life.
7. The 2000 Tattoo the Earth Tour
Somewhere between Ozzfest’s national domination and Mayhem Fest’s yearly trek was Tattoo The Earth, a festival bringing together metal music and body art, with a line-up including Sevendust, a young Hatebreed, a pre-God Hates Us All Slayer, and of course, Slipknot, hot off their debut but not yet the post-Iowa road dogs they’d become. Part of the beauty — and horror — of the trek was the extreme heat, which caused the masked men to force themselves into a half-conscious delirium for the fans’ sake. “It’s the music that drives us,” Joey Jordison said at the time, “and we’ve built up a tolerance for it.” Few bands can take the stage after Slayer and survive the experience, but Slipknot proved they could follow up any act in town.
6. Knotfest 2014
While 2012’s inaugural Knotfest is famous for the Iowan Nine’s crushing performance, it was Knotfest 2014 where Slipknot really shone. Readier, more polished, and performing material from .5: The Gray Chapter for the first time, the band obviously wanted to make this set a night to remember. And they did indeed, looking like gods of Hell on their gigantic carnival stage. Sure, watching pure chaos is fun, but there’s something to seeing these lords of misrule when they know exactly what they’re doing that’s extra-special.
5. The ‘99 Coal Chamber show where Joey Jordison got third degree burns
In 1999, Coal Chamber took Slipknot out on their ‘Livin’ La Vida Loco’ tour — a move they’d later regret. At one gig along the way, the late Joey Jordison set his drum kit on fire, a stunt he’d become famous for. This time, however, it was Joey who went up in flames, and the drummer suffered third-degree burns due to the accident. Rumor has it that Coal Chamber tried to have Slipknot booted from the tour soon after the blaze, but that manager Sharon Osbourne considered them too valuable an asset to allow for their dismissal.
4. Download 2009
Peruse Slipknot message boards and forums, and Download 2009 always comes up. The show saw Slipknot at the height of their notoriety post-All Hope Is Gone, playing to a crowd of 80,000 fans. The result, as you can see, was a human tempest, and signaled to the world that these dudes were officially the most exciting live metal band on the planet. Watching a mile-long field of fans crouch for “Spit It Out” is like witnessing the eerie calm before a massacre.
3. Ozzfest ‘99 in Washington DC
Ozzfest ‘99 was Slipknot’s big bang, the moment where the band honed their schizophrenic live show and were introduced to America at large. The Washington, DC, stop even saw them terrorizing the nation’s capitol, delighting teens and horrifying tourists. But it was their performance, a destructive tour de force which involved Clown obliterating his drums and the fans erupting in a full-blown free-for-all, that was most jarring. With this show, the seeds of destruction were firmly planted in America’s fertile soil.
2. The 2008 Mayhem Fest show where Sid broke both his feet
Maybe the July 9th opening date of the 2008 Mayhem Fest tour would’ve been pedestrian had Sid Wilson not broken both his feet. Maybe that gig would’ve gone down as a typical Slipknot concert, a show which sent fans home satisfied and nothing more. But that’s not what happened — instead, Sid broke both his fucking feet after jumping off a massive piece of stage equipment. That alone earns the gig such a spot of honor on this list.
1. Disasterpieces – London, 2002
Whether the Disasterpieces show was extra-crazy because it was being recorded, or whether the cameras just captured the sheer unpredictable madness of Slipknot, we can’t say. All we know is that this night at the London Dockland Arena was the ultimate display of Slipknot at their most rabid and grandiose. From the high-flying displays like massive blasts of pyro and Joey Jordison spinning upside-down to the sheer human fury of the audience as they ripped Sid naked when he tried to crowdsurf, this show will forever be Slipknot’s craziest gig, the night that the band became the monsters we now fear. Fans will wish they’d gotten to see this show in person for generations to come.
Watch Slipknot make metal history once more on their upcoming Knotfest Roadshow tour with Killswitch Engage, FEVER 333, and Code Orange. Tickets are available now for the dates listed below. And the read more about Slipknot and other metal mayhem, make sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
9/25 – Des Moines, IA – National Balloon Classic Field*
9/28 – Tinley Park, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
9/29 – Milwaukee, WI – American Family Insurance Amphitheater
10/1 – Noblesville, IN – Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center
10/2 – Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre
10/3 – Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake Amphitheater
10/5 – Syracuse, NY – Lakeview Amphitheater – Syracuse
10/8 – Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center
10/9 – Hartford, CT – XFINITY Theatre
10/10 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center
10/12 – Camden, NJ – BB&T Pavilion
10/13 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live
10/15 – Burgettstown, PA – S&T Bank Music Park
10/17 – Charlotte, NC – PNC Music Pavilion
10/19 – Tampa, FL – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
10/20 – West Palm Beach, FL – iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
10/22 – Raleigh, NC – Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
10/23 – Alpharetta, GA – Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
10/24 – Pelham, AL – Oak Mountain Amphitheatre
Oct. 26 – Rogers, AR – Walmart AMP
10/28 – Del Valle, TX – Germania Insurance Amphitheater
10/29 – The Woodlands, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion**
10/30 – Dallas, TX – Dos Equis Pavilion
10/1 – Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheater
10/2 – Phoenix, AZ – Ak-Chin Pavilion
** No CODE ORANGE
Words by Chris Krovatin