When the Tattoo the Earth Tour invades Fair Park this week, 20 of the hardest bands in the land will be on hand, wearing a lot of black clothing (if anything), cursing blue streaks, screaming until they're hoarse, and ensuring considerable panic and chaos. (In the best possible way, of course.) This summer's main competition for the ever-popular OzzFest, the tour is actually pretty ingenious, marrying the best of hardcore music and body art. In addition to the 20 bands, 10 of the world's most renowned tattoo artists will be here, ready to do some bad-ass inking on anyone who's not afraid of getting caught in a mosh pit with fresh puncture wounds.
As the headliner, Slipknot gets the brass ring of the show, which in this case is playing in the dark. (The rest of the acts have the privilege of playing in the toasty Texas sunshine.) And the group is definitely worth sticking around for, even at the risk of hearing impairment; undoubtedly, they have the dubious distinction of being the loudest thing to come out of Iowa since the invention of the Cockshutt. The rest of the lineup is something of a mixed bag. Other cool acts on hand will include Hatebreed, Full Devil Jacket, and Sevendust, but there are also some decidedly shitty acts such as Jurassic rockers Slayer and Cold, new kids on the block in need of a good beating. Still, the act to see is that band of bemused Brazilians, Sepultura, who are on the road in the U.S. for the first time in two years. "Right now, we're back to a normal standard," guitarist Andreas Kisser says during a recent interview. "Right now, we feel good about everything."
As they should. The band should be in the studio right now finishing up on their ninth album, Sepulnation. Instead, they're finally out on the road again, only they're no longer ironing out kinks since the departure of front man and co-founder Max Cavalera. Their new lead singer, Cleveland native Derrick Green, has filled Cavalera's shoes, as well as offering his own flavor and anger. Kisser thinks the tour has been going better than expected. "It's been great," he says. "Pretty crazy. There's a lot of new, very young kids coming to the show that have never seen us or Slayer, and that's funny. There's a whole new generation coming out and listening to this kind of music. And the mix with the tattoo art is perfect."
And that's the other thing--the tattoos. There will be more ink at this show than there is on the Magna Carta. In fact, a few people will get Magna Carta tattoos, because, you know, that's cool. A lot of these bands are already practically covered from head to toe, and now that they're touring with some of the most famous artists the underworld has to offer, their addictions will be fed, and fed well. No one's falling off the ink wagon this time around. Filip Leu and Paul Booth will stamp you a third eye or demon companion to live on your neck, and while that means absolutely nothing to those pasty, artless people, it means everything to the hardcore permanent skin-stainers. In fact, Leu gave Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera a big, fat tat on the road the other day. "It's great to have that mixture," Kisser said. "To be connected with the heavy music and this cool shit."
Yeah. Each artist has a tent, and the masses come...in droves. "It's like a hippie festival," Kisser says. Only rather than hugging trees, these metal-eating hippies will probably chop them down, burn them, and piss on the smoldering ashes. That's right, fun for the whole family.