Veronica Pahomova cartoonist
Knotfest. A bunch of metalheads with similar styles and music taste headbanging and moshing together to some of their favorite bands. This festival took the stigma on heavy metal music and swallowed it whole, proving that attendance to this event is worth any negative opinions that are thrown afterward.
Metal music, ironically, derived directly from classical music, and as the scene grew more and more popular, so did the group of people against it. Knotfest, a metal music festival created by the American Grammy-winning heavy metal band Slipknot, has been exponentially growing in interest and support. But there is, and might always be, an ongoing stigma against the band members, festival organizers and fans in the metal genre.
As stated on Knotfest’s official website, the festival is composed of “5 Stages with over 20 Major Festival Attractions and 40 Hours of Apocalyptic madness! With the addition of the biggest Japanese bands, Knotfest features the best in heavy music from around the Globe. Overall the Festival will feature over 33 globally touring artists and 18 regional bands showcasing the best artists in Heavy Music”, with attractions including the “Slipknot Museum, Massive Fire Hell Zone, Packs of Freakish characters, the scariest ride from the Clown’s childhood at the Iowa State Fair, THE RING OF FIRE, a Fighting Thunderdome, a Festival Zipline, a sideshow freakshow and many more to be announced.”
Though band names like Slipknot, Cannibal Corpse, Snot and Dying Fetus are not the most appealing to the ears, one does not have to like all of the bands to appreciate the wonder that is the best thing to happen to San Bernardino.
As opposed to contrary belief, this is actually quite a family friendly event. Along many middle aged men, teen girls and young adults, there were many children around the age of 10 (obviously with parent/guardian supervision).
Whoever was near the entrance at around noon could here a little boy yelling, “Corey Taylor (lead singer of Slipknot) high-fived me! Corey Taylor high-fived me!”
But many would say that a metal festival- especially one as renowned as Knotfest- is too violent for people under the age of 18, or even 21. Their most snorted reasons: the dangers of moshing, crowd surfing and drug use.
When music is as intense as what the bands at this festival are projecting, people are excepted to do something with all of their assimilated energy. Moshing is a way to exercise the trust one has in their fellow metalheads and provide a healthy release of emotions. However, this can be dangerous, but only if the members of the pit allow it to be.
It is moshing courtesy- metal common sense even- that if someone falls down, the closest people to them must help them back to their feet and escort them out if it’s needed.
No one is forced into the circle, it’s all by choice. Just like an earthquake, an epicenter is usually formed, and much like a tornado, there are clear signs as to when a moshpit is beginning to form. There is more than enough time for people to scoot away if they would not like to be part of it.
Strangers lift each other on their shoulders and help them initiate their crowd surf. When people are coming above, even the shortest, weakest person in the crowd lifts their hands in attempt to help the surfer and prevent them from falling. And just like moshing, if someone finds themselves on the ground, surrounders immediately come to the rescue.
People are there for the music, not for the fighting. Though there are lots of “dangerous” and “violent” attractions, they are performed by professionals, not regular attendees.
And along with the assumption of violence comes the assumption of mass drug/alcohol use- which is also undeniably false. Those who do smoke are ID’ed, as well as those who are drinking. Knotfest has a pristine reputation for responsible cigarette and alcohol use. In the end, attendants of Coachella and other popular music festivals smoke and drink the same amount, if not more, than the ones at Knotfest. The point is to hear and see one’s favorite band, not struggle to remember their lyrics the next morning.
People from all around the world gathered at San Bernardino. Metalheads from all races and nationalities headbanged at the same tempo.
There isn’t a more exhilarating feeling than to be at a metal concert, especially one of such high caliber like Knotfest. When Slipknot, the favorite band everyone in the audience has in common, comes on, one can feel the excitement pulsing in everyone’s veins, since it’s the same immense excitement that’s pulsing in theirs. Everyone’s hearts line to the beat of the bassdrum as the crowd sings louder than the frontman who has over three microphones near him.
So what’s with the stigma on metal festivals? It’s most likely just another example of society fearing what they simply cannot understand.
“Slipknot is no longer a band,” custom percussionist of Slipknot Shawn Crahan said, “they are a culture.”