Knotfest 2023
RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
26 March 2023

It had finally arrived.  The day metalheads had been waiting for.  The Brisbane debut of the heavy music festival started by Slipknot in 2012, Knotfest!

Learning from recent festivals, Knotfest got off to a smooth start, opening the gates nice and early to allow for punters to get inside before the first bands kicked off. The weather was a little gloomy, with unexpected showers starting the day off.  The ponchos were out for less than an hour though, before the rain eased off and skies cleared up. 

I had a wander around the festival site, checking out the smaller Dark stage with a stunt performance going on, including sword swallowing, and knife juggling while riding a very tall uni-cycle before heading back to the main stages to catch the bands.

First on the bill bringing the heaviness was Malevolence, the groove-oriented metalcore band from England.  I was not familiar with them before this but really enjoyed their sound and set, hearing influences from such bands as Hatebreed and Pantera, which is always going to get my attention. The day had started strong, the bar was set high and I was warmed up and ready for more. Will be checking these guys out more when i have time. 

Next up was Bad Omens, who I’d heard a bit of hype around so I was keen to check them out and was not disappointed.  Bad Omens had unfortunately had to pull out of the Melbourne leg of Knotfest days earlier, due to vocalist Noah Sebastian having vocal problems.  Thankfully, Noah was able to resume playing on the Sydney and Brisbane legs of the festival, and I, for one, am thankful for that. The crowd really started to build already, even though it was only the second band on for the day. Noah asked for help with singing their songs, but really didn’t seem to need it, playing their way through what seemed to be a flawless set. 

First Aussie homegrown band on the bill was Void of Vision hailing from Melbourne. I wasn’t familiar with these guys but was instantly captivated by frontman Jack Bergin and his powerful and often haunting voice. Another band i’ll be checking out more of when i get home. Their set left myself and others keen for more.


Fellow Aussies Alpha Wolf were up following Void of Vision. These guys hit the stage running and didn’t let up, with their brand of metalcore coming through strong and aggressively the entire set. Coming off an American tour, and about to embark on a European tour, these guys proved they’re ready to show the world what they’ve got.

It was time for Knocked Loose to take the stage.  I’d heard about these guys wild live shows, and even wilder fans, often coming away from shows bloody and battered and loving it! Kicking off the high energy show with “Where Light Divides The Holler” and continuing through banger after banger, I was glad to have seen the mayhem in person finally. 

What to even say about Spiritbox, the only female fronted band of the day.  I’d been listening to Spiritbox a bit over the last yr or so, and they were high on my list of bands I was keen for on this day of heavy music, especially since they weren’t doing any Brisbane sideshows on their first visit to our shores.  Courtneys vocals flowing seamlessly from her singing voice to her screaming and growling, and back again, exactly like i’d seen in several of her one-take youtube vocal performances. They completely met my expectations and then some. 

Story Of The Year’s time to tear it up. These guys have been doing it for a while and it showed, with their music whipping the crowd into a moshing, crowd surfing frenzy. The crowd finally got their emo/pop-punk/post-hardcore fix and Story of The Year left them happy.

Next was time for Swedish metal favorites In Flames.  No strangers to our shores, I’ve seen them several times before, but they’ve never disappointed and this time was certainly no different. Starting with their acoustic track “The Beginning Of All Things That Will End” playing over the PA before blasting into “The Great Deceiver”, In Flames kept the crowd energised and moshing throughout their set, before finishing with fan favorite, Take This Life, In Flames left the crowd happy but wanting more. 

It was fellow Swede’s in viking metal band Amon Amarth’s turn to hit the stage.  Their stage really sets the mood for the what’s to come, with massive viking statues on either side, and a Viking boat themed drum riser.  I enjoy seeing these type of ‘niche bands’ live, even if the music is not always my cup of tea, they always seem to put on an entertaining show.  I’d seen footage of their ‘rowing moshpit’ so I was looking forward to seeing it in person, and yes it was worth the wait.  Something cool about watching a crowd of metalheads sitting down and pretending to row in unison while Amon Amarth smash out their song “Put Your Back Into The Oar”. With the crowd in their hands, Amon Amarth sweated up a storm, while powering on through their viking set. 


Aussie festival favorites Northlane were up.  As the sun went down and day turned into night, the festival really started to come alive as the boys from Blacktown stormed the stage with their LED backdrop and heavy grooves. Running through favorites mostly from their last 2 albums, the crowd lapped up the energy that Northlane brought with their dusk set.


Trivium was upon us, as was nightfall. Intro’ing with “The End of Everything” before parting the pit and launching into “Rain”, the now-veterans of the genre hammered on through a killer setlist.  With the bright yellow Japanese inspired backdrop and his matching jacket, frontman Matt Heafy belted out a set as good as I’ve ever seen them do.  

Thrash metal kings Megadeth were back, and it was their turn to take the stage.  Dave Mustaine letting the crowd know he was ok after his recent cancer scare in 2019.  Belting out hits such as Hangar 18, Tornado of Souls, Symphony of Destruction before ending with Holy Wars, Megadeth kept the old school metalheads satisfied. 


It was time for the boys from Byron Bay to take the stage. Of course i’m talking about Parkway Drive, the now global metal legends we all love to see.  The crowd was well and truly ready, the RNA showgrounds was now packed out.  We should all know by now that a Parkway Drive set is well worth experiencing.  Kicking off the set with recent single “Glitch”, the Parkway boys were but a few songs in when Winston’s voice gave out on him. The band took a few moments to deliberate on what to do, before coming back and announcing that they have decided they’re going to continue the show until his voice no longer works. Asking the crowd to assist with vocals, they continued their set with fan favorite, “Vice Grip” before continuing through the rest of their set. Ending their set with the massive anthem-like “Wild Eyes”, Parkway Drive put on one hell of a, what turned out to be, an emotional and powerful show with Drummer Ben Gordon at the end thanking and praising a visibly emotional Winston, with all 30k or so of us in full support.  Thanks guys, that was incredible.

Finally, it was time for the main reason we are all here. None other than festival founders, and masked metal legends Slipknot. The affectionately named fans of Slipknot, known as maggots, were out in full force. Fans in their costumes and masks were everywhere. The fellas in Slipknot could have been walking around with us all day and I’d have been never the wiser.
The stage was set, the mood was excitement, the massive Slipknot curtain was up blocking the stage. AC/DC played through the PA while the excitement and anticipation built up more.. And then the squeal of the guitars kicked in, and then the drums while Slipknot began playing the intro to “Disasterpiece” before the curtain dropped and all was revealed. Slipknot on a multi level stage, masks and costumed adorned. You could feel the energy radiating from the crowd of maggots, feeding off the band they’d been waiting all day for. Song after song, the crowd couldn’t get enough. Songs including “Wait and Bleed”, “Before I Forget” and “Psychosocial” were in there before the set was paused due to a punter climbing the delay towers. Resuming with “Duality”, “Custer”, and “Spit it Out” before taking a short break before the encore, Slipknot showed why they have the reputation they do, as being the metal legends that they are. Closing out with crowd faves “People=Shit” and “Surfacing”, Slipknot were the perfect ending to an incredible day.

I can only hope this is the first of many Knotfest’s. It was an awesome day and the festival is an extremely welcome addition to the Australian festival circuit. Please come back Knotfest.

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