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Alliant Energy Center; Madison, WI; 10/12/01

Reviewed by Jason Savage

    "If you can't stand the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen!" This old adage seemed fitting considering the awesome pyrotechnical display put on by German Industrial/Metal masters, RAMMSTEIN. Never have I seen a more creative use of fire. These guys made Gene Simmons look like an amateur! Before I explain the spectacle of fire and brimstone that I bared witness tonight, let's get the opening remarks out of the way.

    We arrived at the Dane County Coliseum at 6:30pm, a mere 30 minutes after the advertised start time. After consuming essential alcoholic beverages in the parking lot, among other things, we entered the venue at 7pm. Figuring we might miss openers, NO ONE, we weren't too concerned. I had been looking forward to seeing AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE though all week, but unbeknownst to most of the crowd, the show started early and we missed both warm up acts. I was quite disappointed to say the least. I missed AHC in Wausau because of an early start and at Ozzfest because they played the AM hangover slot. Now, back to Armageddon!

    I had never had the opportunity to see a RAMMSTEIN show. I heard they used a lot of cool pyro, but that proved to be the understatement of the year! Right from the opening notes of the song "Rammstein," which by the way translates to "ramming stone" in German, the crowd was treated to a brilliant display of pyromania! Vocalist Till Lindemann wore a silver/gray trenchcoat accented by science-fictionesque goggles complete with one glowing red eye, perched on his mohawked head. I felt like I was on the set of the "Terminator." As he belched forth in his low Germanic voice chanting: "Rammstein," his coat started on fire. With both arms and back ablaze, he entranced the crowd, while keyboardist, Flake, dressed in a white lab coat, swayed insanely atop his post to the right of the drum riser. Till sang every note in German, but even the language barrier didn't stop the  metalheads from moshing. Each RAMMSTEIN "soldier" wore gray uniform-like costumes and spent a lot of time marching in step. Till was built like a smaller Schwarzenegger, he definitely eats his Wheaties for breakfast. Flaming towers erupted during "Sehnsucht," as they blazed through other songs such as "Du Hast," "Buch Dich," and several new and old favorites from their three CD repertoire. 

    Guitarists Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers even played flaming guitars for one song that would make Ace Frehley proud. The coolest display though, depicted Till and the two fretmen wearing masks with a hose attachment that allowed them to shoot forth fire like a flamethrower. All three took turns aiming 10 foot long tongues of fire at one another that got the masses cheering quite loudly. 

    After this display of brilliance, I had high expectations for SYSTEM OF A DOWN. They opened with "Prison Song," kicking the tightly packed floor fans into a frenzy. Their stage show was simple, utilizing only a large video screen backdrop and three "soapboxes" if you will, that Serj (vocals),  Daron (Guitar, vocals) and Shavo (bass), stood on to overlook their disciples. Tearing through songs with their twisted, punk-like political delivery, we were treated to many tunes off their new "Toxicity" CD and a few old ones. I must say that I can't seem to get their "Toxicity" CD out of my car stereo  and hearing songs live such as; "Needles," "Deer Dance," "Jet Pilot," "X," "Shimmy," "Toxicity," "Psycho," "Aerials," and my favorite "Chop Suey," kicked complete ass. They also did "Bounce," you know the one ... pogo, pogo, pogo ... and asked the crowd to dance like the people shown on the video screen. They were doing some insane dance, similar to the twist, but it was too close-quartered for this to work as intended. They closed the set with "Sugar." I heard other songs off their debut release but their names escaped me last night.

    And now ladies and gentlemen, the moment we've all been waiting for ... SLIPKNOT!!!! I have seen these escaped lunatics from Iowa on two other occasions: Ozzfest 2001 and last year's Tattoo the Earth tour. I will start by saying up front that this was the best production of the three by far. SLIPKNOT is one of THE biggest bands on the planet right now. They are the KISS of the new millennium. I realize that this is a pretty brave statement being the huge KISS fan that I am, but let's compare shall we? 

    They have the masks vs. facepaint and the alter egos that complement those. They have the costumes and big stage production that KISS always delivered and I see similarities in their fanbase too. The KISS Army vs. The "Maggots." Most of us still don't have a clue what these guys look like either, which is the same marketing strategy KISS used to create their  mystique. KISS came to entertain and SLIPKNOT is here to pick up where they left off, and to fill a void that has been missing in action for way too long. With ticket prices rising to the point of ridiculous, not to mention those cheap-ass $30.00 t-shirts and $5.00 cups of beer, the fans DESERVE the best fuckin' show a band has to offer! And, yes, my friends, SLIPKNOT has delivered. 

    Another KISS comparison fell on drummer Joey Jordison, who performed a drum solo reminiscent of Peter Criss or Tommy Lee. Joey's drum riser was atop what looked like a round grated manhole cover. This rose several feet in the air on what was comparable to a catapult arm. As the arm lifted, the riser began to tilt forward like a catapult poised to fire while turning simultaneously in a circle. Sitting in his bolted upright seat, Joey kept pounding away at his solo as the crowd screamed their approval.

    Their backdrop was a large pentagram with a goat's head in its  center ... a la VENOM, circa 1981. On each stack of Marshalls at the side of the stage were large "666" signs that lit up. SLIPKNOT stormed the stage, opening with "People=shit," and never looked back! Spewing forth messages of  anger, hate and reality in songs such as "Disaster Piece," "Heretic Anthem," "Left Behind," and "Eyeless." 

    The absolute coolest effect I have seen yet, took place during the song "Gently." As the dark foreboding chords rattled the stage, fog began to wisp up from the floor creating a very eerie  landscape. While this was happening, machines atop the side speakers released what looked to be snow. It seemed surreal as if you were looking at SLIPKNOT in one of those glass balls with snow that you shake. White lights and the noise of wind sent chills up my spine and I felt as if I were in a  bad horror movie. Green lights flashed like strobes pulling me deeper into the abyss. The snow was actually soap bubbles with the consistency of bubble bath. They landed harmlessly on the entranced "maggots." 

    SLIPKNOT made good use of flames, flashpots and explosions. I can still feel the heat on my skin.  I am proud to say that I was about 10 feet from stage the whole show and didn't get mauled too badly. Just the usual smacks on the head from passing body surfers and bumps from those 250 lb. fat-asses that like to push everyone forward because it makes them feel more like real men or something. 

    Corey looked to the audience for participation during "Spit It Out," as he made everybody on the floor crouch to their knees. This was quite the sight to see and a real accomplishment for Corey. One girl took the opportunity to hop aboard her boyfriend's shoulders as he knelt, and flashed Corey her breasts, which, of course, brought a round of applause from the peanut gallery. Corey then quieted everyone and gave us his two cents worth on the tragedies of September 11th. He condemned those responsible and wants to see justice. He also confronted the tougher subject of hate retaliation because of these acts directed upon Arab-American citizens and how wrong it is. His  final word was that we needed to be strong and to watch each other's backs now more than ever and he was proud to have us watching his back. 

    SLIPKNOT also played "Purity," and "Eyeless," off of their debut and closed their set  with "Wait and Bleed,' as the mass of sweaty bodies sang along. After they left the stage, the crowd started chanting "Slipknot, Slipknot," before yelling "Maggots, maggots, maggots! The sideshow freaks obliged with an encore of "SIC" and "Surfacing," to cap off an excellent night of mayhem.

    Overall, I was very impressed with their energy. The pits were brutal throughout the show and I must say that being down front getting kicked around really made me feel alive. I am not your typical reporter sitting in the wings or up in the seats where it is safe. I love the interaction on the floor. Where else can a guy go to develop people skills and practice patience and tolerance for his fellow man?

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Copyright 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:17 -0400.