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Chicago Open Air 2016

Skeptic.  That is precisely how I felt when this tour was announced.  It is no secret that fans of metal these days are at war with each other, forming cliques within the different types of subgenres that have spawned over the last 15 or so years.  I remember reading and laughing at all the trolls posting about Chicago Open Air’s vast line-up.  Quotes like “Anybody up for carpooling?  I am coming from the 90s” made me chuckle as if I was in high school again.  But that is the point!  Chicago Open Air’s line-up was intricately designed to entertain an old metalhead like myself, as well as the generations after me.  I went into this show and expected it to be a bland re-hash of past memories.  Three days later, I emerged from Toyota park with a massive smile on my face.  Let me tell you about my experience over those three days.

The Asgardian Gods blessed these 3 days with fantastic weather.  There were a few times where the sun punished us, but we were forgiven with small rainstorms here and there to cool off the crowd.  My mind was set in stone to see certain bands, and great weather followed me from stage to stage each day.  Walking around the festival, there were amazing gourmet man food vendors that fed the masses well.  The foods were quite pricey, but you did not walk away hungry, that’s for sure.  Monster Energy also had a huge tent set up that hooked up the attendees with hydrating drinks.  I am not one for energy drinks, but I will say that the free drinks were an excellent marketing move and appealed to everyone. 

On Friday, the first band I checked out was Periphery, (Who were absolutely amazing) and I stayed at that stage to see Hatebreed and Carcass.  Both of these bands also are legends in their own way, and had the mosh pits to prove it.  A storm hit us and soaked the crowd pretty good up until the 2nd stage headliner, Meshuggah, was ready to slay our ears.  It is no secret that Meshuggah is one of my favorite bands of all time, and what happened next was almost a religious experience.  Moments before the band took stage, the storm stopped and the sky eye-fucked us with the brightest double rainbow you have ever seen.  This drove the crowd wild as the fathers of djent made our ears cum with their polyrhythmic grooves.  I seriously did not think that Friday’s performances could get any better, and I was dead wrong.  Ministry and Chevelle were both fantastic performances, but the icing on the cake was the pyrotechnic show and headbanging, heavy, heavy show that Rammstein brought.  I have never seen Rammstein perform, and now I know why they are considered to be the German Metallica.  The whole crowd was mesmerized as the band performed all of their hits and entertained us with flame throwing instruments, explosions everywhere, and a massive fire cannon in the middle of the venue that you could feel the heat from anywhere in the entire soccer field.  Check that off of my bucket list. I really hope to see Rammstein again in the future, because, to put it lightly, was fucking cool.

Saturday was a bit of an early day for me.  I have seen a lot of the headliner bands perform before, so as an old guy, I needed to conserve my energy.  There were 2 bands that I really wanted to see.  Deafheaven and Gojira.  I got as close as I could to see Deafheaven play, and was not disappointed.  Many friends of mine have told me that their performance is great, and now I have to say I am among them.  They sounded great live, just like their studio recordings, which is not as easy a task these days.  Once Deafheaven finished their set, many people left to see the next band on the first stage.  I parked my ass right in front of the 2nd stage to wait for a band I know was going to destroy the place…  Gojira.  These Frenchmen have tapped into the secret of eternal energy, as they completely annihilated ALL the bands that played on Saturday.  They played a ton of tracks from all of their albums, including their newest release “Magma” which you should buy immediately if you have not had the chance to do so.  I was pressed against the barricade and headbanging the entire time.  What an amazing performance… and after that, I was spent.  Was time to gorge on gourmet man food, an Iron Maiden burger from Kuma’s Korner and call it a night.

Sunday was also a great show.  Not only did I get to experience the first concerts I have ever been to in my life, I got to experience a brand new genre.  I started going to concerts when I was 15 years old.  My first concert I attended was Corrosion of Conformity, and a few concerts later I saw Marilyn Manson for the Smells Like Children tour.  Both of these bands playing Chicago Open Air had the high school me screaming for joy, as they played all of their hits that I remembered….especially Manson starting off the show with Angel With the Scabbed Wings.  I was in pure bliss.  Those performances were amazing, but seriously did not hold a candle to what Babymetal brought.  Talk as much shit as you want about Babymetal, those girls are tireless performers that work their asses off.  This was my favorite band of the night.  Hail Babymetal!

All in all, Chicago Open Air was a MASSIVE success.  It brought together metalheads of all ages to a venue that was completely prepared for its crowd.  The sound was amazing, the security was accommodating, and the overall experience was one for the record books.  Monster Energy and Chicago Open Air, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the memories I have of those 3 days.  Doc Metal signing out.

Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity.

A double rainbow came out just as Meshuggah blasted our ears off.

Right up against the barricades for GOJIRA!




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