Knotfest: Why Slipknot Are Still A Festival Must See After All These Years

Huw Baines 14 January 2020

Some bands appear to have been laboratory engineered for festival success—they radiate inoffensive late afternoon mass appeal from each empty chorus and $500 distressed Rolling Stones tee.

But for two decades they have shared stages with a band who do things differently. A band who clambered to the upper reaches of charts across the globe, but did so with a brutal death metal screed. A band who have inspired countless scream-alongs under setting suns, but with words about fingers and eyes. In place of the Rolling Stones tee they wear identity-erasing boiler suits and masks. 

A little over 20 years since they cannonballed into the conversation, Slipknot are still among the most vital festival bands, and they’re still doing things differently. This summer they will bring their Knotfest extravaganza to the UK for the first time at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes, following up a European arena tour in support of ‘We Are Not Your Kind’, their first album in five years. 

The event is designed to reflect Slipknot’s ideal festival setup: a house of horrors stacked with like-minded bands and fans there to get into the warped spirit of things. As Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan told Rolling Stone ahead of the fest’s first stagings, in their home state of Iowa and a little further afield in Wisconsin, back in 2012: “When everyone leaves their senses [will be] overloaded, and I’m talking about smells, sights, hearing, your body, everything is overloaded with stimulation, because that’s what Slipknot does.”

Knotfest, which has to date been staged in the US, Japan, Mexico, Colombia and France, has one eye looking back over its shoulder at touring festivals like Ozzfest, the monster metal blowout that set an early standard for mayhem following its debut in the mid-’90s. In ‘99, just as their self-titled debut stoked the nü-metal fires on its way to instant classic status, Slipknot hopped on board and used the festival’s massive stage to define their game-changing aesthetic for a wider audience.

Their promo video for Wait and Bleed was filmed at one of the tour’s stops and it captured the feral power of an early Slipknot set: windmilling hair, keg strikes, pogo-happy breakdowns and, for added flavour, the pit getting atomised by a water cannon in blistering heat. Soon, this clip was reverberating around suburban living rooms as kids found something weird, dangerous, and entirely their own. 

It’s to Slipknot’s enormous credit, with a side order of praise to their hardy fans, that the energy levels on display in the Wait and Bleed promo have rarely been allowed to drop in the intervening years. And that’s just one of the reasons why Knotfest’s maiden UK voyage will intrigue maggots young and old. 

Many will have seen Slipknot hit Download for six in recent years, and perhaps joined in the clamour for them to be given a shot at closing the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, but they are yet to show audiences on this side of the pond what they can do on this scale when given full creative control. With Rammstein also primed to torch a handful of UK stadiums this summer, there is a neat sideshow to rekindle memories of the days when AC/DC and Motörhead spent their time trying to outdo one another as the world’s loudest live band.

There will be some tasty morsels to pore over at Slipknot’s upcoming shows—which begin in Dublin on January 14 before heading to Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Sheffield, Nottingham, Cardiff, Birmingham and London—with regards to possible staging and setlists, but beyond that there’s no real need for guesswork when it comes to what they’ll deliver at Knotfest: anthems old and new, a pit for the ages, baseball bats, fire and fury.

It’s also worth noting that while there were several bumps in the road (I mean, it’s really, really long), ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ is the work of musicians with fire in their bellies. That should translate nicely when it comes to Knotfest because, after all, no-one wants to see a band like this recede into comfortable middle age in front of their eyes. This is shaping up as a massive night for Slipknot in a country where metal fans have long kept them close to their black hearts. I push my fingers into my...

Knotfest general sale will start at 10am on Thursday January 16, with tickets priced from £95.60 including booking fees.

Slipknot Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue January 14 2020 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Thu January 16 2020 - MANCHESTER Arena
Fri January 17 2020 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Utilita Arena
Sat January 18 2020 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Mon January 20 2020 - SHEFFIELD FlyDSA Arena
Tue January 21 2020 - NOTTINGHAM Motorpoint Arena
Wed January 22 2020 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena
Fri January 24 2020 - BIRMINGHAM Arena Birmingham
Sat January 25 2020 - LONDON O2 Arena
Sat August 22 2020 - MILTON KEYNES National Bowl

Click here to compare & buy Slipknot Tickets at


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