A full moon lit up the sky at the Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix Saturday night as metal juggernauts Slipknot and Lamb of God laughed in the face of high temperatures and dust storms to create one of the more intense atmospheres the city has seen in a long time.
The Marilyn Manson-inspired shock rockers that make up Motionless In White started the evening off with an extra layer of horror, but I was stuck in a line outside the venue while the group was playing, along with thousands of fans decked out in gas masks, clown costumes and metal-spiked everything. I was wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt and felt like the odd man out.
By the time I reached the venue entrance, two people had already been asked to leave for being visibly intoxicated. This was a rowdy fan base, but it's important to remember that it is more fun to actually see your favorite band perform versus making a fool of yourself in line before hearing any music.
I walked in during Bullet For My Valentine's set. The Welsh rockers have seen better days since their peak years in the mid-2000s and the crowd, while respectful, didn't really give too much of a damn about these guys.
The aroma of concert weed and sweat began to thicken as Lamb Of God took the stage. Fresh off the release of a new album, "VII: Sturm und Drang," the band absolutely crushed the Ak-Chin audience, playing old hits like "Walk With Me In Hell" and "Redneck" while mixing in newer cuts like "512" and "Still Echoes" to roaring applause.
Frontman Randy Blythe at times appeared to be a man possessed, but if you looked past the brutal images of war and buildings collapsing playing on LED screens behind him and the band, you'd notice a smile sometimes peek through the cracks of his ultra-metal demeanor.
This guy brought so much rage to the crowd that mosh pits far from the stage turned into tribal circles of fire. Luckily, the fire department soaked the audience with water to put out the flames, creating a frenzy among drunk moshers who had moved so deep into the crazed caveman character that it was hard to tell a difference between civilized 2015 humans and stone-age neanderthals.
Lamb Of God finished and the energy at the amphitheater was high in both a literal and drug-induced way. Dust was starting to roll in from what seemed like an in-coming haboob, and I saw a few girls duking it out with the dudes over who could yell the most ear-piercing metal scream while waiting for Slipknot's set.
The lights went down and Slipknot, sporting their new masks, brought a crowd of thousands into their so-called "family" of decaying mouth scars and trash can drum sets with an eerie fun house mirror that doubled as a light screen pulsing with trippy visuals.
The crowd went nuts for old favorites like "Duality" and "Before I Forget," but it was in new songs like "Killpop" where the band took a darker, more emotional turn for the better.
I find it ludicrous that a band with this heavy of a sound and the appearance of Stephen King's worst nightmare can draw crowds that would make a popstar like Lady Gaga or Katy Perry jealous.
In a world where Justin Bieber is considered a "bad boy," Slipknot is a breath of fresh air. The group's dominant headlining performance last night proved that this isn't just a band, it's a full-blown cult.
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