Over two decades ago, nine-masked upstarts from Iowa released an album that rocked the metal world, breaking the nu-metal’s grip on the genre and pushing the limits of what the genre could be. The best Slipknot live performances are part concert part spectacle, as they remain one of the most singular groups in metal.
Here are the 18-legged wrecking machine’s eight greatest live performances from throughout the years.
‘Duality’ (Download Festival, 2009)
When British metal titans Iron Maiden headlined Monsters Of Rock in 1992, they unleashed a version of “Fear Of The Dark” that was so body-shakingly stirring, so monumentally epic, so devastatingly executed that it would forever become the definitive version of that song.
Similarly, “Duality” was already a classic by the time Slipknot headlined Donington in 2009, but after that night the song would take on new meaning and never be the same again. The passion from the maggot congregation as the song begins is arguably one of the highest points of 21st-century metal, and Slipknot’s definitive live performance.
‘Wait And Bleed’ (TFI Friday, 2000)
The urban legends of Slipknot had reached fever pitch long before the band had ever landed on British shores, but upon the airing of their debut performance on U.K. television, they had the undivided attention of the entire nation.
Absolute pandemonium broke out among the TFI Friday audience to the point that a cameraman was famously pulled from the stage and into the throng. Love them or loathe them, this was unavoidable and essential to kick-starting the Slipknot legend.
‘The Devil In I’ (Day Of The Gusano, 2017)
Rejuvenated by the success of .5: The Gray Chapter, their album in tribute to their late, great bassist Paul Gray, the band took an awe-inspiring stage show around the world, and the Day Of The Gusano collection is the first place to get official pro-shot footage of live material from that record.
Much more menacing and sinister than its recorded counterpart, this version of “The Devil In I” is a somber yet explosive look at how the Slipknot live show has grown over the years, and how the band has forged an ability to bludgeon through harrowing psychological assaults as well as all-out noise terror.
‘The Heretic Anthem’, (Disasterpieces, 2002)
Slipknot and the U.K. always had a special bond. Riding the crest of a wave that saw the group take on – and defeat – indie darlings The Strokes and pop juggernaut 5ive in 2001, and see their Iowa album hit the top of the album charts, they launched a world tour of successful, riotous live shows that came to a head at the band’s biggest headline show at that point in their career, at the now-defunct London Arena.
Featuring Joey Jordison’s now-infamous spinning drum kit, and captured at a time when the band still had a chip on their shoulder and fire in their belly, this whole performance is pure savagery.
Debut Ozzfest performance (1999)
Heavy music was in a weird place in 1999. Metallica was doing songs with symphony orchestras and Marianne Faithfull, Iron Maiden had no Bruce, and guitar solos were as trendy as walking around with Cornish pasties for shoes. More than all of this, though, nu-metal had completely taken over. For a few years, the mosh du jour was all about rapping, DJs, and cartoony ridiculousness taking over the world of heavy metal – and, as the genre’s biggest tour, Ozzfest. Enter Slipknot to alter the landscape forever.
Every day, the band would open the proceedings, and every day, people would sprint to the stage to get a glimpse of the hottest band in heavy music. Little did they know, this wasn’t just the band of the moment. This was the birthing of an all-time great.
‘Custer’ (Knotfest, 2014)
It had been an emotional few years in the aftermath of Paul Gray’s passing; the band grieved publicly in a press conference that is one of the most emotionally draining pieces of footage you will ever witness. The maggots grieved along with them, both at the time and on dates around the world that felt as much like funeral processions as they did concerts. And then, most shocking of all, founding member Joey Jordison left the group.
Some had their reservations about the future of Slipknot, but the band had no such uncertainty. The first Slipknot live shows with a new line-up? Headlining San Benardino’s Knotfest festival to tens of thousands in attendance, and streaming it to an audience of millions around the world. Those shows ruled, and “Custer” stole the show both nights. Ka-f’n-boom.
‘Spit It Out’ (Sonisphere, 2011)
You’ve seen every band do it, from pubs to festivals, but they all took their cues from Slipknot. You know what we are referring to. If you have ever seen any artist, anywhere, get an entire crowd to crouch down before leaping into the air, just know that they are dirty plagiarists and that Slipknot’s “Spit It Out” was the birth point of that particular phenomenon.
With that in mind, here’s a look at what it’s like to be right in the middle of that melee. With flailing bodies and a level of reckless abandon that will make you forget that you paid twice the price for that drink that you’ve just lobbed into the air, it’s the cornerstone of any Slipknot live performance.
‘Psychosocial’ (Day Of The Gusano, 2017)
Let’s be honest, you can pick any performance of this floor-stomping, fist-crushing anthem, so why Day Of The Gusano’s? It’s this simple: this is the best sounding mix of any Slipknot live release, and you can take that to the bank.
Don’t just take our word for it. Turn that volume knob as loud as it’ll go and rock like a thunder bastard.
Day Of The Gusano: Live In Mexico can be bought here.