The scorching sun on this past weekend’s events was not nice to me, or probably anybody else for that matter too. I went to the second annual Chicago Open Air festival, and it is my second year at COA festival. First of all, I should state, I’m a fan of good music despite the genre I might be listing to, and I wouldn’t call myself a “Metalhead” either, but this past year my journey into metal has taken me to places that I didn’t know exist.
For instance, earlier this year, I got the opportunity to see Anthrax at the Concord Music Hall in Chicago’s east Logan Square neighborhood \m/. And without a doubt, these guys brought it—the oomph and energy that I saw were in parallel with somebody doing cocaine for the first time (don’t do drugs, kids), I’m assuming, by the way. Superfast, super loud, and when it is over, you want more, or you got push into a mosh pit, and you say what the hell happened. My point being Anthrax was at this year’s COA, and they brought it again with the same vigor I saw them last time. Up to that moment in my life, the first time I saw Anthrax, I never thought going to a metal concert would be entertaining, enjoyable, and in many ways refreshing.
The other spectacle and entertaining band I saw for the first time at Chicago Open Air were Kiss. I was stupefied by the fact that I didn’t know any of the names of the songs that they played, but I knew every single song they played. I even sang along with the words of a few songs too. Kiss might be contrite in some circles or stereotypical because I have seen plenty of movies or documentaries when a musician smashes a guitar on stage, and stuff expelling out of their mouth—Kiss did it all and flying in the air too. I never saw any of that stuff performed live before this past weekend. I would have to say without a doubt Kiss was by far the most entertaining band at this year’s COA.
The big surprise for me this past weekend was Rob Zombie and Korn. I guess I don’t bother to learn the names of songs or the names of particular artists that sing songs. What I realized this past weekend at COA was, Rob Zombie was essentially the soundtrack of my twenties via the Exit or Neo Nightclub. As I’m listening and watching Rob Zombie, the floodgates of memories resurface, and me listening to his music at these legendary Chicago nightclubs. Zombie killed it with his performance. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Korn this past weekend. I know and like their music, but I wouldn’t care if I saw them or not. However, let me say this, I was completely and utterly wrong in saying that. Jonathan Davis, lead vocalist, and the entire band performance blew me away. Talk about showing passion for something; Korn, in my opinion, was this year’s COA’s most passionate, enthusiastic performance that electrified the crowd with their rhythmic heavy music and, for a moment–dare I say, spiritual. People that know me will say, “What!” The point being they killed it.
Last but not least, “Slayer, Slayer, Slayer,” as the crowd chanted this band named over and over again. Slayer that played the small stage out in the parking lot at Toyota Park, which was the venue of Chicago Open Air festival; in my humble opinion, I thought they were going to play the main stage the entire weekend and felt they should’ve. I believe and assuming many of those people with me that full that parking lot up to capacity, which no other band did, by the way, for the entire weekend, was this year’s COA, best musicians. I was close enough to the stage to witness this electric, heavy, and hair-triggering musicianship come alive through Slayer but far enough from the pandemonium of the pit and bodies surfing over the crowd. I was familiar with Slayer sound and music, but I guess or assumed human beings were incapable of playing instruments that fast. I was wrong. Slayer slayed every second they were on that small stage, and I was completely all struck by everything happening around: The crowd, the music, the energy, and me.
Don’t get me wrong, and there were other notable, well-known bands at this year’s festival that deserves as much credit and respect as the bands mentioned above, such as: Amon Amarth, Body Count, the Dillinger Escape Plan, and surprisingly a couple of up-and-coming bands such as Code Orange and Aversed, which was the only band to be lead by a female vocalist in Haydee Irizarry at this year’s Chicago Open Air—they all killed it in every possible way, too. And of course, I can’t forget to mention the Godfather of metal himself, Ozzy Osbourne. Days later, I’m still humming his music in my head. \m/
By Santino Santiago
Photos by Chicago Open Air