Concert Reviews

Last Night: Slipknot and Coheed and Cambria at Nokia Theatre

Slipknot, Coheed and Cambria
Nokia Theatre, Grand Prairie
February 22, 2009

Better Than: Accidentally stumbling onto the set of a Rob Zombie movie without realizing you've been written into the plot.

Last night at the Nokia Theatre, the earth shifted, the foundation cracked, and hell poured out through the fissures.

Clown make-up, gas masks, and prison-inspired jumpsuits were in abundance as fans infiltrated the doors at around 7p.m. As concert-goers passed through metal detectors and bag checks, a sea of dark-colored clothing (and souls) poured into the venue.

Stagehands set up Slipknot's industrial, hell-inspired playground behind a red velvet curtain, as hoards of beefed-up, shirtless men entered the pit with one goal on their minds: Must...bash...skulls...

The wait was eternal, but a bare-bellied blonde helped pass the time by putting on a show of her own, if you know what I mean. (You don't? OK: She pulled up her shirt and flashed thousands, easily becoming the night's Princess of Darkness.)

Then the lights dimmed, the crimson drape slowly rose, and standing behind it--perfectly still, with instruments in hand--was Slipknot.

All nine masked members were in position, as the main drummer (there are three, by the way) beckoned immediate attention. With long, stringy hair and a crown of thorns, he stretched his arms out toward the crowd to expose long, branch-like wooden fingers. There he sat for several seconds, raising his arms higher with each one-Mississippi. The rest of the stage's occupants remained motionless...

Then a barrage of sounds exploded and fell, covering the entire audience like a three-ton blanket.

Two additional percussion rigs, both made of metal beer kegs, sat at opposite ends of the stage. On stage left, an overweight clown whammed his quasi-kit with a bat. Not only constructed of unconventional materials, this keg-kit also spun in complete 360s and levitated 15 feet in the air. The demented clown threw his head around and gawked at the audience while riding his theme park kit. The other beer keg percussionist didn't enjoy the perks of quite an attention-grabbing rig, but did enjoy the perks of an attention-grabbing 7-inch nose. Wearing the jester-styled V for Vendetta mask was James Root, who doubles as the lead guitarist for fellow Iowa natives, Stone Sour.

Slipknot's newest album All Hope Is Gone (which peaked at number one on Billboard's Top 200) is said to be the band's heaviest, yet most melodic album to date.  And, sure, audiences last night were exposed to the heavy part.

But, melodic? Really? The value of Slipknot's performance, despite whatever melodies they achieve on record, relied solely on their circus-inspired stage presence. There was never a shortage of things to look at, but the music was an elongated sequence of noise that sounded like metal teeth gnawing on electrical wires and predatory animals.

Still, the mechanically moving members of Slipknot were serious about their craft. While other masked metal acts, like GWAR and Hollywood Undead take their roles with a grain of humorous salt, Slipknot means business.

And Slipknot's massive crowd seemed well-pleased at that idea.

Meanwhile, Slipknot's main support act, Coheed and Cambria, enjoyed the polite nature of a crowd divided. Claudio Sanchez, Coheed's lead singer and guitarist, told Rolling Stone earlier this month that his band has been received with mixed emotions while touring with Slipknot. But Dallas displayed some real class, serving the progressive rockers a heaping plate of Southern hospitality. Its less elaborate set was played under banners that read, "God will not save you"--but at least on the musical front, Coheed did save the evening.

With his amazing mane of dark fluffy hair (think Sideshow Bob times ten), Sanchez wailed on the whammy bar of his black Gibson Explorer. Playing the same caliber of intricate music that can be found on the band's multiple concept albums, Coheed's power was mixed with unparalleled musicianship. Starting off with the anthem "Welcome Home" and ending with Sanchez's screams filtering through the body of his guitar and out of several amps, Coheed left skeptics without a leg to stand on.

All in all, it was a balanced night of musicianship and showmanship.

Oh, and weed smoking, and skull-bashing, and mask-wearing... plus, y'know, overall terror.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias: In general, I'm not a huge fan of being scared. Nope, no haunted houses or scary movies for me. I'm the gal who makes sure her doors are locked twice before getting a good night's sleep...

Random Note: Seeing a guy who's wearing a leather jacket, Slipknot shirt and black beanie drink a strawberry daiquiri is just plain ole' good stuff.

By The Way: $15 for parking at Nokia? Geeze... what do you think this intern is made of?!?!

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Kelly Knickerbocker