The windy city of Chicago was taken by a storm this Friday July 14th-16th by the strong currents of metal heads from all over the United States. The Toyota Park, home to the Chicago Fire futbol team with stood a herd of hungry metal heads, craving nothing but a musical escape. The second annual Chicago Open Air took place and the line up was a goliath to be reckoned with. Two stages were the main platforms for extreme music to be conjured. The small stage was the Blackcraft Cult Stage, where artists from Body Count, Kyng, Devil Driver and Slayer performed their most notorious and destructive songs to thousands of raging metal fans. These fans were fed by places like Kuma’s Corner, and the heat was cooled off by the Jimador Tequila, Jack Daniels Experience, and woken up by David Ellefson’s coffee shop. All of which the fans raved about, as the food was abundant, and liquor consumed responsibly. The Festival had all it needed, food, drinks, entertainment and most important of all heavy metal, supported by wild fans.
The First day of the festival consisted of bands like Code Orange, Hell or Highwater and Suicide Silence on the Blackcraft Cult Stage. The fans would make their way from this stage to the Monster Energy Main Stage to witness acts like Crobot, and Anthrax. When Anthrax and Megadeth kicked off the thrash scene, the fans were ready for their amazing guitar riffs. Anthrax from New York City amped the crowd up, with tracks like “Breathing Lightning” and “Madhouse” the fans went berserk and showed dedication and devotion as they chanted to each track of this classical thrash metal band. Scott Ian delivered phenomenal rhythm riffs, while Joey Bellanova screamed like a soaring eagle to tracks like “Time” encouraging the fans to sing along. The next act on the main stage was Megadeth, and they ravaged the crowd with their shredding and thrashy drum blast. Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro both delivered a brutal execution of tracks like “Mechanix” and “Tornado of Souls”. Kirk Venveuren did not disappoint in his set hammering like an angry octopus to songs like “Hangar 18” and “Symphony of Destruction”, while David Eleffson purveyed his amazing basist skills and raged with fans. A night of brutal assaults was just beginning.
The second stage was closed by the one and only Messhugah as they delivered an exhilarating setlist for their fans. Messhugah played 5 minutes shy of an hour, and the pit was intense and relentless. Messhugah knows how to convey their sound with killer precision. As Messhugah delivered their insidious sound, Rob Zombie was warming up behind the main stage. Once Rob Zombie commenced his groovy sound, the fans and specially women in the crowd went wild. Rob Zombie projects such amazing energy, and injects each and every single fan with the sounds of talented John 5 on guitar and Piggy D on bass. Ginger Fish executes the drums with such ease. Fans sang along to tracks like “Living Dead Girl”, and “Thunder ’65” some classics were enjoyed by the fans along with material from the most recent record; The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration. As inflatable alien dolls made their way across crowdsurfing, Rob Zombie and the gang raged to “Everybody is Fucking in A UFO”, one of their most recent tracks. Once Rob Zombie delivered its contagious grooves, the fans with painted faces awaited as the stage was reset for Kiss.
Legendary Kiss finalized the night to a vicious first day of Chicago Open Air. Kiss played tracks they have not played in decades, from the record “Love Gun” to “Pyscho Circus” the vault was opened and fans rejoiced to classic tracks. Paul Stanley fronted Kiss per usual with a charismatic voice, and Gene Simmons delivered demonic bass tones. The fans wanted Kiss, they wanted to see the band up close and the big screens were not enough, therefore Paul Stanley flew over the fans, to a center stage where he rocked out to nostalgic fans screams and hollows. Gene Simmons also levitated his body, as he flew to a stage about 5 stories high. From above, he delivered his devilish vocals, and impressive bass slaps, the night was complete. Fans left the venue filled with energy and talking about the amazing first day of Chicago Open Air.
The Festival proceeded with another blazing line up, from Cane Hill to Pig Destroyer and classic Metal Church day two’s line up was a brutal one. Dragonforce delivered a mesmerizing performance in the Blackcraft stage. With Herman Lee shredding away to some brutal speeds, Marc Hudson projected his potent clean vocals. The fans witnessed a fantastic performance by guitarist Sam Totman and drummer Dave Mackintosh, as they moshed pit and sang along tracks like “Fury of The Storm”. Dragonforce made their presence felt, and the second stage was only warming up. Avatar performed on the main stage, and their weird antics were adored by fans. Dressed with circus attire, Avatar from Sweden projected their jester like presence at fans, while the guitars pervaded the ears of those who listened. The spectacle was eerie, and the fans were encourage to remain weird during their performance, nothing freaked out the fans. The persona of Johannes Eckerstrom allowed the fans to feel the music deep inside, and rendered them to rage even harder. The drummer John Alfredsson, hammers at his instrument mimicking a marionette, while bassist Henrik Sandelin delivers heavy tones. Both guitarist, Tim Ohstrom and Jonas Kungen headbaged as they played intricate guitar solos and added circus like theme sounds to each track. A jester singing, a marionette playing drums and the rest of the puppets delivered a killer sound.
The second stage was brutalized by Mushroohead, Body Count and and Clutch. Mushroomhead delivered a dark performance and their fans raved to each cannon blast, and guitar riff. The bass blew up in their face with depth and speed, while both singers in unison conveyed a message that instilled rage in fans. The fans responded by crowdsurfing and moshing to each tune. Body Count lead by Ice T, kicked off their set by covering Slayer’s “Raining Blood”. A true homage to the lords of thrash metal, Ernie C and Juan Garcia executed each riff perfectly. It is no surprise, as Ice T and Ernie C are huge fans of Slayer, what better way to amp the crowd for their intense set. They played songs from the new album titled Bloodlust and showcased their brutality onstage and bassist Vincent Price delivered a brutal slapping of the bass while he headbanged on stage.Clutch closed the small stage, and Neal Fallon delivered his powerful vocals to an audience ready to groove. Meanwhile Tim Sult and Dan Maines executed perfectly to tracks like “Firebird” and “X-Ray Vision”. The infectious groove was greatly received by the crowd, as everyone danced and enjoyed a dose of Clutch.
The main stage was plagued with humor, and great music as Steel Panther executed their set. Satire, sex, drugs and rock and roll were prominent in this band’s set. Four humorous talent musicians sang about their sexual encounters, and their moms too. All part of the hilarious show, Sachel and “Stix Zadinia” delivered incredible musician talent. Guitar licks were abundant as well as classic metal screams by Ralph Saenz could be heard all across the stadium. Each member plays rock and roll and their 80’s hairband look might fool you, but this band can play like rock stars. Godsmack played soon after, and they pumped the crowd. Sully on vocals sang his heart out, while guitarist Tony Rombola played with passion. Godsmack reminded the fans why hard rock is needed in events like this one, to take you back to the sounds that started the scene and project a killer musical wave for true fans of rock and roll. Korn concluded the spectacle with their unique sound, and it brought out the teenage years in me. From Johnathan Davis to Biran Welch Korn instilled nostalgia in every 35 year old with their deep bass tones, rhythmic vocals by “” and explosive drums. The guitar never disappointed and each track was performed flawlessly. The fans were entertained, and they feasted their ears and eyes on a catharsis that injected energy for one last hour and everyone erupted with joy. The second day was darkened as Korn turned their lights off, and the fans hailed their sound once more.
Slayer and Behemoth destroyed the Blackcraft Stage, one that will remain in flames as Slayer delivered their punishing thrash metal. Slayer Delivered tracks like “Angel of Death” and “Mandatory Suicide” fans went berserk and crowdsurfing was inevitable. A great way to see Slayer live was definitely at Chicago Open Air. Behemoth purveyed the satanic black metal they are known for, as Orion, and Seth butchered the crowd with their heavy riffs both on bass and guitar; Nergal levitated the death with his demonic roars. “Conquer All” was the highlight of some fans while others raged to “The Satanist”, a devilish choice. Before the Vikings went on the main stage, Kyng rocked the Blackcraft stage with hard rock and roll. Their sound is heavy, fast and delivers that punch you are looking for. Tony Castaneda rips that bass a part with heavy riffs, and Eddive Velez shreds away for fans to rejoice in this heavy rock band’s tunes. Pepe Clarke hammers away to fast speeds delivering the grenades to keep the tempo up and heavy. Kyng is a force to be reckoned and they made sure they stayed heavy during the Chicago Open Air. Amon Amarth went on board that main stage, they brought their dragon with them and fire warmed this cool Sunday. From tracks like “First Kill” and the new anthem for drinking beer for metal heads, “Raise Your Horns” Amon Amarth showcased a killer set. The vikings conquered this venue as their hammers were raised high, beer was poured and the energy felt in the stadium was incomparable. Amon Amarth completed their last USA tour at Chicago Open Air, and they will be back perhaps after a new album comes out. Till then, all will raise their horns and meet where the beer never ends.
Other acts that were insane, were Hellyeah, with Chad Gray fronting the band, this band raised hell so the audience could continue thrashing. Mushroomhead were on the bill, and their sound resonated across the venue. Many fans jumped heavily to their tunes and metal tracks. The Chicago Open Air Festival of 2017 is on the books, viking metal, classic rock and roll and black metal was imminent as young fans celebrated this congregation of what is to be known as the best music world wide.
Written By: Hostile Jo
All Photos BY : Jose Barrientos
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