Photo by Stryknyn.
I guess I should start out by introducing myself and giving a brief mission statement for View from the Pit. In wrestling rings I am known as Stryknyn. Concertgoers in Atlanta and surrounding areas know me simply as that shirtless guy tearing up the pit. I started going to concerts when I was 14 and have always enjoyed the aggressive release of moshing. More than 15 years later I still love the aggressive release of moshing. For me, concerts aren’t just about the music being played on stage. They are also largely about the passion, interaction and enjoyment of the audience. One day it dawned on me whilst reading a concert review of a show I had attended that the critics reviewing these shows don’t connect with the performance the way the rest of the audience does. That being said, I am not here to criticize a band’s performance. I’m just some jackhole wanting to have a good time. I want to give reviews from the perspective of those of us the band is actually trying to please, from my perspective, my View from the Pit!
For my first edition of View from the Pit, I was lucky enough to travel to Concord, N.C. for the sold out Carolina Rebellion at the Rock City Campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway May 2 and 3. I’ve been to music festivals before, but this was a slightly different format than I was used to, so I was excited. The music was spread over four stages at each end of the park: The Monster Energy Carolina Stage, ReverbNation Stage, the Monster Energy Rebellion Stage and the Jägermeister Stage. As soon as the gates opened, people ran to the merch booths or the different stages to take their spots. The bands that seemed to have the biggest buzz for day one were Papa Roach, Motionless In White, Sammy Hagar, Chevelle, Cheap Trick and Korn, with many people highly anticipating the performance of Marilyn Manson, who had never before graced a Carolina Rebellion stage.
Photo by Crystal Wernett.
My show menu started later in the afternoon with Motionless In White on the Jägermeister Stage. A metalcore band out of Pittsburgh with heavy goth overtones, the band got the crowd jumping by opening with “Unstoppable” from the recent Reincarnate album. It was an odd choice to open with, but the crowd was rabid and the moshers went to war. The pit started immediately, quickly creating a cloud of dust as the pit area was dirt and gravel. There was a healthy amount of moshers and crowd surfers, and everyone followed good pit etiquette; those who fell were picked up, respect was shown to the girls in the pit and, best of all, there were no pit bullies. Motionless’ set was close to 40 minutes, closing with “Devil’s Night,” a fan favorite that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Motionless killed its set and the crowd’s adrenaline flowing.
From there I ventured to the Carolina Stage where Papa Roach was already performing. (With this festival’s format, if I caught all of one set I’d miss the first couple songs of the next band’s set on a different stage.) So, I had to carefully plot who I wanted to see and how badly I wanted to see them. That being said, Papa Roach’s set was mostly a “best of” list including “Scars,” “Between Angels and Insects” and “Last Resort”. I headed straight for the mosh pit, which was about fifteen strong. We went about two or three song with a good jumping and moshing combo before the pit bully entered! This guy, who was about 6’2″ and 240 pounds, came in swinging elbows down and kicking. (Author’s note: A pit bully is a jackass that goes into a mosh pit with the intentions of causing bodily harm to unsuspecting persons.)
After watching this guy plow through several people with no regard for their safety, I decided to deal with the problem. He charged toward me and I scooped him up with a fireman’s carry. I then lifted him over my head and dropped him face down in the gravel. Exit pit bully, never to return. Papa Roach finished up and I was off all the way across to the Rebellion Stage for Marilyn Manson!
Photo by J. Ann Dowis.
It was obvious that the majority of the first day’s crowd was there for Manson, as about 60 percent of the entire festival’s populous gathered in front of the Rebellion Stage. Manson made a grand entrance as always a lot of smoke and lighting starting with “Deep Six” from The Pale Emperor. The song got the crowd hopping and the heads banging, but didn’t get a massive pop as I don’t think the majority of the crowd was familiar with it. Quite the opposite effect for the next few songs, “Disposable Teens,” “mOBSCENE,” “Tourniquet,” and, of course, “Sweet Dreams”. The audience jumped, head-banged, and sang along. There were a few small mosh pits but more crowd surfers. As the set rolled on with hits like “The Dope Show,” Manson’s voice cut out from time to time. I wasn’t sure if it was him or the equipment, but it became apparent that he was getting frustrated. The end of his set left persons with no prior Manson experience scratching their heads. They closed with “The Beautiful People” Manson came off stage and went up to the barricade allowing audience members to sing along with him. When the song was over, he got back on stage and left(?)! If you are a Manson veteran like me, then you know he doesn’t say “Goodnight,” rarely takes a bow and never, ever says, “This is our last song.” Unfortunately, those not wise to his act were left with a sour taste in their mouths.
Korn was next on the Carolina Stage, but most of the festival’s population, including myself, called it a day. Additional first-day flavor was added by the Rock N’ Roll Chef Chris Santos, who was hosting an eat and greet featuring burgers and ribs glazed in his famous Jägermeister sauce. Good whatever God you believe in, this food was delicious and highly recommended!
Day One Scorecard
Pits I was in: 4
Moshers: More than 50
Crowd surfers: More than 60
Pit bullies: 1
Photo by Stryknyn.
Day two was sadly hotter than day one. The buzz bands for the day were Slayer, Slash, Godsmack, In This Moment and, of course, Slipknot. My day started at the Rebellion Stage with the Butcher Babies, a metal band out of Los Angeles fronted by two gorgeous ladies who are very proficient at working a crowd. I honestly don’t think the majority of the audience knew their songs, but all the songs in their 35-minute set were fast tempo and heavy, plus the eye candy factor is undeniable. The ladies, like pied pipers of metal, instructed the crowd and the audience responded enthusiastically. When they said bounce, we bounced. When they said mosh, we moshed. When the surf was up, the surfers went up by the dozens. It’s safe to say that the Butcher Babies made some new fans while also pleasing established fans.
Public Service Announcement
Crowd surfing carries a 200-pound weight limit. So, big guys (myself included as I weigh 221 pounds) keep your asses on the ground! It’s not fair trying to make 16-year-old girls carry your big asses.
Photo by Stryknyn.
Next on my menu was Breaking Benjamin on the same stage. Having just gotten back together, the band was full of energy, and so was the crowd. The set was mostly just a list of their radio hits such as “So Cold,” “I Will Not Bow,” and “Firefly,” and denoted more jumping and singing than moshing. The crowd surfers were in full effect for most of the set. Breaking Benjamin got a surprisingly big crowd pop for “Polyamorous” and closed out with “Diary of Jane”. Then I had to haul ass to the Carolina Stage to not miss too much of the one and only Slash!
I’m not going to lie, I am not at all familiar with Slash’s original songs. I just wanted to hear this guitar legend play. And no matter what he is singing, Slash’s singer Myles Kennedy has an immaculate voice. There wasn’t a lot of movement in the crowd for this set. We were all just soaking it in. The only songs that I knew were the Guns N’ Roses hits “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” which all sounded amazing! After Slash finished up, I waited around in front of the Carolina Stage for Godsmack.
Godsmack started its set with a song that I was unfamiliar with. The crowd, however, was in a frenzy. The pit opened up when the band started its second song. Though there weren’t as many moshers as other pits that day, but this was a harder-hitting pit. The set rolled through hits such as “Keep Away,” “Voodoo” and “Cryin’ Like a Bitch,” then switched gears to a drum battle between the band’s drummer Tommy Stewart and front man Sully Erna, then played a medley of snippets from classic rock songs like “We Will Rock You,” “Back in Black” and “Walk this Way”. The band closed its set with hits “Whatever” and “I Stand Alone” before which Sully demanded the pit open up more. During “I Stand Alone” the mosh pit was an absolute war zone, with more moshers than the whole set combined. As soon as Godsmack left the stage it was a mass exodus to the Rebellion Stage for Slipknot.
Photo by Stryknyn.
I got to the Rebellion Stage with Slipknot already in progress. Slipknot has never been anything less than a visual spectacle if no other reason than there are nine members wearing full head masks. The set was a good mixture of older songs like “Wait and Bleed” and brand new ones like “The Devil in I”. There were two very large mosh pits full of people who were obviously running on fumes, as well as a decent amount of crowd surfers. The rest of the audience was either singing along or just watching the spectacle. There is always a lot going on while Slipknot is on stage as the band never shies away on a big production. There is no shortage of pyro, smoke and lighting tricks, so one can easily just find oneself just standing still and staring at the stage. Slipknot front man Corey Taylor told everyone to crouch down and simultaneously jump up in the air during “Spit it Out,” which is a very cool visual. The band finished up with a two-song encore of “Sic” and “Surfacing” drawing the sold out festival to a climactic conclusion.
Carolina Rebellion was a great experience. I left exhausted and sunburned, but it was so worth it. If you dont want to get hit, stay the fuck out the pit!
Day Two Scorecard
Pits I was in: 3
Moshers: More than 40
Crowd surfers: More than 60
Pit bullies: 0