This footage of Slipknot performing at Ozzfest 1999 feels like the start of something truly extraordinary
The best way to describe the first few years of Slipknot as a live band would be intense. A nine-headed beast brimming with bile-drenched drive, taking the stage wherever would have them and causing complete and utter devastation. And it's in performances like the one they put on at on the first date of Ozzfest 1999 that helped them on their path to the level of superstardom that are at now.
To set the scene, Ozzfest was hitting the road across America for the fourth time. The main stage boasted Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie, Pantera, Deftones, Slayer and System of A Down, to name a few. Yet it was on the second stage that the talk of the town would be. Sandwiched between Puya and Pushmonkey, and with Fear Factory, Static X and Hed PE set to follow them, Slipknot were placed slap bang in the middle of the bill. The first stop of the tour was in Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Florida, on May 27, just over a month before the band were scheduled to release their debut, and now stone-cold classic, self-titled album. Though their name had been uttered as ones to watch, nobody could have been prepared for what was about to take place.
To watch footage from that set is to see a band at their most vicious and volatile. Dressed in their darkest boiler suits and with their terrifyingly affecting masks strapped tight to their faces, the way they take to stage to the sound of 742617000027 before bursting into (Sic) is utterly palpable. Gritty, devastating, and so outrageously fucking heavy, it would be impossible not to get goosebumps standing in front of such a display. From the terrifyingly gruelling Eyeless to the effortlessly catchy Wait And Bleed through to sheer contempt of Surfacing, it was a display that took the band to the next level instantly. And this was just day one.
Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2016 about what it meant to be a part of such a tour, Corey Taylor said: "Ozzfest gave us an incredible opportunity where we were really able to jumpstart a career from there. In a lot of ways, we had a lot of advantage over a lot of other bands because of that. We were able to get all over the country, we had people who really supported us from Day One that helped us get to where we are now. The great thing about being a part of that Ozzfest was that you were immediately part of the family. The Osbournes themselves really believed in this band.”
And after making such an impact, Corey recently spoke to Loudwire about what it was like to meet Ozzy himself for the very first time on the tour too, saying: “I was sitting at a table with Sharon and Jack [Osbourne] and a couple of other guys from Slipknot. And out of nowhere comes Ozzy. Sharon introduces us, and he’s like, ‘Oh, you’re in Slipknot, there’s nine guys, right? I want to be number ten’. It was like being baptised and knighted all at the same time”.
By the time the tour was over at the end of July, Slipknot was out, and the rest, they say, is history. A true monster was born.