Two legendary festivals join forces for the second year straight in Southern California resulting in madness and mayhem.
For many, this year has brought on an almost unbearable level of personal loss, political chaos, inexplicable tragedy, and overwhelming fear for our country’s future. With horrific events such as this past October’s Las Vegas shooting happening on almost a daily basis, it begs the question whether events like Ozzfest Meets Knotfest could even go down anymore. But on November 4th and 5th all doubts were squashed, and for the second year in a row, Ozzfest Meets Knotfest brought together an almost perfect group of eclectic artists ranging anywhere from deep wave, to hip hop, to hard rock, and of course a heavy dose of straight-up balls-to-the-wall metal. And the result was a group of 25000+ music lovers forming as a community for a two-day festival to throw their middle fingers up at all that chaos and fear mongering and celebrate the one thing that has unified countless cultures from the beginning of time – music.
The metal gets started early on Saturday morning with Thrown Into Exile kicking things off at 11 am. There is no shortage of music with three stages going on simultaneously with acts like Iron Reagan, Suffocation, Possessed, and Fallujah.
A definite stand out is Baroness hailing from Savannah Georgia. Guitarist Gina Gleason is a force as her and lead vocalist/ guitarist John Baizley dual out powerful but beautiful harmonies on guitars. Next up is Germany’s thrash metal outfit Kreator. Bodies fly with reckless abandon throughout the crowd as they speed through their blistering 55-minute set.
Moving onto the Main Stage now we start the night time portion off with Orange Goblin. There are no frills about this foursome hailing from the UK. They play in-your-face metal. Amps are turned to 11. Guitars are screaming. Bass is pounding. Drums are pummeling. And Ben Ward’s vocals are more like eloquently pissed off growls than lead vocals. Somewhere up in the heavens, Lemmy Kilmister is smiling down as this group wrecks us with their booze laden riffs.
Next up is Finland’s death metallers Children Of Bodom. Alexi Laiho is a raw nerve as he fronts the well-oiled crew through favorites like ‘Needled 24/7’ and ‘Towards Dead End’. Fists fly high as Laiho and Daniel Freyberg accompany each other with highly difficult guitar solos.
We wait in darkness for our next sonic serving – Deftones. The sound of an ethereal synthesizer starts up as smoke fills the stage with lights flying from side to side. Finally, we hear guitar feedback as Chino Moreno calmly takes his place on a platform front stage center. As the guitar comes in stronger Chino lets out guttural shrieks that lead us into the first notes of ‘Heads Up’. There’s a certain controlled chaos about each of the member’s performance that is intoxicating as they roll through hits like ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’ and ‘Swerve City’. The pulsating riffs from Stephen Carpenter’s guitar send fans into a frenzy. They end their powerhouse set with a charged version of ‘Engine No. 9’ where Moreno interchanges lyrics from Cypress Hill’s “Here is something you can’t understand…how I could just kill a man.” Which can only lead us to…
…Prophets of Rage. Easily the most emotionally charged, and arguably the most memorable of performances of the weekend, Prophets of Rage were a force to be reckoned with as they rolled through a set that included hits from Rage Against the Machine, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, as well as original tracks from their newly released self-titled album.
Chuck D belts out the lyrics from their opening song ‘Prophets of Rage’ like an impassioned preacher. Tom Morello chews up the stage with an unmatched fervour. It’s clear from the first note that this group of individuals are here to do more than entertain a group of drunken metalheads. They are here to make a statement that will last a lifetime in the minds of highly influential and highly potent youth. And as they powered through jams like ‘Testify’, ‘Living on the 110’, ‘Hail to the Chief’ and “Bullet in the Head’ they’re doing just that. Bodies flung forward into heated mosh pits.
B Real changes the tone up a bit to throw a little hip-hop into the fire as he and Chuck D sail into a mosh up of ‘Hand on the Pump/ Can’t Truss It/ Insane In the Brain/ Bring the Noise/ Jump Around.’ Another highlight of their set is a touching tribute to the late Audioslave and Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell where Morello and drummer Brad Wilk play an instrumental version of ‘Like A Stone’ with only the audience as the vocals in remembrance of one of the best voices in the history of rock.
The set ends with B Real speaking plainly with the audience, sharing that their only goal in coming together as a group is to “just be the voice for the people” which brings us into the “most dangerous song” in music, according to B Real – ‘Killing In the name’. Lyrics are changed slightly to accompany certain suits that currently hold esteemed places in office, but the same vengeance is present as was displayed originally in 1992 with Zack de la Rocha at the helm.
Day two starts with much of the same – metal for breakfast. DED takes the stage at 11:15 am with ONI, GoatWhore, Code Orange, and Testament, amongst several others to follow. With piercing vocals, impossibly fast drums, and unfathomably heavy guitar solos that sent bodies flying over barriers steadily throughout the complete set, a clear standout for the day is Black Dahlia Murder.
Moving over to the Main Stage for the nighttime portion, Orange County metalcore band Eighteen Visions offers up a punishing set. A dimly backlit stage filled with a heavy fog machine provides an eery backdrop for their ominous tone.
The crowd is getting amped as 80’s music leads us into the next offering of the night, Stone Sour. Each member of the band calmly takes their places on stage as the crowd roars with approval. Then Corey Taylor saunters out with Hollywood leading man charm, driving the 25000+ fans wild. No time is wasted as they break out into ‘Tapei Person/ Allah Tea’, keeping the foot on the pedal all the way through their set until Corey slows it down for a more introspective version of ‘Through Glass’. The crowd sings “It’s the stars that shine for you..” along with Taylor, who’s now on acoustic guitar. Things amp back up for ‘Fabuless’ closing out the high octane set.
The stage is now being set for what looks like some sort of circus freak carnival show on acid. Which of course can only mean hellbilly deluxe rocker Rob Zombie and his devilish friends are about to take the stage. The energy is palpable as classic rock anthems such as ‘Sweet Emotion’ play over the intercom. Finally, flames start up, crazed video feed fills the backdrop, and John 5 rips out the first notes of ‘Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown’. Zombie lets out a raucous “OH YEAH” from high above on a boombox platform. And from there all hell breaks loose.
They rip through favorites ‘Superbeast’, ‘Living Dead Girl’, and the not-so-subtle ‘Well, Everybody’s Fucking In A UFO’ where of course a fifteen feet tall glowing-eyed demon-alien comes onto stage and grooves along with the band. Rob Zombie is a natural born entertainer..even with an oversized alien on stage thrusting away you can’t take your eyes off of him as he psycho two-steps to the beat. ‘More Human Than Human is a clear favorite as the enigmatic frontman surfs unabashedly through the crowd.
Just when we think we’ve seen as much eye candy as we can handle Zombie makes the whole damned place snow as the devil himself parades onto the stage, leading us into the slow pulsating grooves of ‘House of 1000 Corpses’. John 5 then busts out into a gripping ten-minute guitar solo that leaves us all in awe. After Zombified covers of the Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ and Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out’ Zombie then ghoulishly conducts the crowd into an overpowering “HEY, HEY, HEY”, bringing us into the encore ‘Dragula’. When it’s all said and done, Rob Zombie and friends have left 25,000+ fans screaming out for more. A pitch-perfect way to end a pitch-perfect weekend.
Event Date: 4&5-Nov-2017