GIG REVIEW: Knotfest Sydney 2023

Centennial Park - Sydney, NSW

Parkway Drive - Knotfest Sydney 2023 | Photo Credit: Hold Still Photography

Knotfest is a traveling festival making it’s first appearance on our fair shores. Beginning in Melbourne then heading to Sydney and Brisbane. I was exceptionally fortunate to be able to attend the Sydney show. Knotfest brought some of the brightest up and comers, proven headline acts and Icons of the Heavy scene to Centennial Park in Sydney. 

The layout of the festival grounds was well thought out. Two main stages beside each other in the middle with four gigantic screens so fans could watch the action from anywhere in the field. On the sides, a dark stage where all manner of entertainment took place; Chainsaw juggling, burlesque shows, and whip demonstrations just to name a few! On the other side a wrestling ring! There was also a Knotfest museum with displays of historic Slipknot memorabilia that fans could ogle. Not to mention the fair rides that would allow you to see the whole festival from the air! Truly endless entertainment for the festival goer.

But let’s get to the bands. First up was English Malevolence. They’ve been around for a while now, but have really found their sound in their recent release. The twin guitar attack of Josh Baines and Konan Hall soared through the PA and vocal stylings of Alex Taylor was brutish and strong. Great tunes and  massive riffs a great was to kick off the festival.

Next up, the somewhat infamous Bad Omens. Now, I have no opinion on bands that use tracks for anything, let alone vocals. Touring is exceptionally difficult, especially for a vocalist who has the range and dynamism of Noah Sebastian. Today he sounded terrific and he while he did address the rumours of using tracks during Just Pretend, I could not see any evidence of it. Bad Omens were on point, a tight and heavy machine of chugging riffs and killer breakdowns. They connected with the eager audience immediately, with many of their fans turning up early to catch them and they made a new fan out of me!

Void Of Vision are the first Australian band to hit the stage. It was great to see a mix of international bands and homegrown heroes. The stage attire of these guys was incredible, long leather jackets and great accessories. I don’t know how they put up with that onstage in the sun but they put on a great show. They were welcomed with a huge mosh pit and incited the first wall of death for the day. A thoroughly enjoyable set.

The next Aussie act up, Alpha Wolf a metalcore act originally from Tasmania. I love seeing bands enjoy their time onstage. From the smile of vocalist Lochie Keogh and the actions of guitarists throwing their equipment around in celebration you could tell they were having an absolute blast. With the amount of people in front of them it’s not surprising. With another massive mosh pit and constant crowd surfers I have no clue how the crowd will keep up their energy for the whole day. Yet another killer set.

The crowd size was getting even bigger as American hardcore band Knocked Loose launched into their set. Even small technical mic issues couldn’t slow down with the distinct vocals of Bryan Garris screeching over their crazy heavy riffs and monstrous breakdowns stirring up even more circle pits and a wall of death.

Now, there are bands that bring a certain level of hype with them. Canada’s Spiritbox are definitely one of those bands. Some herald Spiritbox as the next possible headliner band and it’s not surprising as what was a respectable crowd for the opening few bands surged to almost fill the field. In my opinion the hype is real for this band. The fantastic melodic vocals as well as demonic growls that come from Courtney LaPlante are insane as she effortlessly controls the stage with charming banter and great stage moves. The riffs of Mike Stringer absolutely crushing as they belt through the PA. When they launch into the incredible Holy Roller the crowd go absolutely nuts, with security truly being tested with constant crowd surfers sailing over the fence.

Story of the Year are an interesting addition to this line-up, but they definitely bring great energy to the stage. They have an enviable back catalogue and roll out the hits. Dan Marsala sounds great, and the crowd ate it up.



Legendary melodic death metal band In Flames are up next. With a recent album that has been heralded as a return to form, In Flames sound incredible. The tracks from Forgone are fantastic, sitting right beside classic tracks from Clayman easily. Drummer Tanner Wayne destroying his skins, and vocalist Anders Fridén sounding immortal. Anders asks fans not to boo the other states and to prove themselves as the best crowd they perform for and I believe they earn that spot. Yet another amazing set.

It’s time for the glorious Vikings to hit the stage. Amon Amarth are always a fan favourite. Bringing their big riffs, endless double kick and unique roar of Johan Hegg the crowd absolutely love it. With all the spoils of war a stage design with Viking ships, props of Thor’s hammer and a Viking row where a large proportion of the crowd got on the ground and performed a row! Quite a sight to see. The clouds were starting to look very threatening during the set and just as they close the set with the incredible Twighlight of the Thunder God the heavens open.

The torrential downpour did not hamper the amassed as Northlane take the stage. Now, a few people had been saying that the sound was low. I personally thought that every band had phenomenal sound with a great mix. But apparently the fans at the front had a hard time hearing the vocals as they kept on asking the band to turn it up. This may have been because we were in the middle of Sydney and there was noise restrictions since as the day turned to night the bands were definitely much louder. Again, in my opinion each band had great sound, you could hear everything distinctly and clearly and in an outdoor setting that is very difficult to pull off. Getting back to Northlane, It was the first time hearing them and from what I heard they have fantastic song-writing chops, not surprising after six albums. With a great dynamic stage setup and fantastic visuals on LED screens.

Luckily the rain slowed to a trickle for the legendary Trivium. It’s always a pleasure to watch Trivium tear it up. The huge audience jumping and chanting with fists raised in the air. Matt Heafy took the opposite position to In Flames and pitted the Sydney against the Melbourne and Brisbane crowd demanding more energy and to know who is best. They replied with a huge circle pit. Trivium have seen a true return to form ever since employing the services of drummer Alex Bent, the last two albums have been phenomenal. Amongst the Shadows and the Bones and The Heart of Your Hate sounded absolutely crushing alongside favourites In Waves and closure Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr getting the biggest circle pit of the day. Trivium was absolutely fantastic.



It was finally time for the Icons Megadeth. With a back catalogue that any band would kill for, Megadeth launch into Hanger 18 as an opener! What can be said about Megadeth that hasn’t been said before, the legend Dave Mustaine was in fine form telling the crowd the story of beating cancer as the inspiration of new song We’ll be Back which was a wholesome moment as the crowd gave him a well deserved ovation. I loved hearing Angry Again and the closing run of Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells and Holy Wars…I mean…amazing.

Another first time for me was seeing Parkway Drive and they did not disappoint. Coming out with flaming torches as the capacity crowd roared their welcome. Parkway are celebrating 20 years and have worked hard to become the international headline act they are today. Launching into Glitch and Prey then Carrion was absolutely dominating. The audience bouncing and moshing to their hearts desire and loving every minute of it, roaring approval after each song. During Karma Winston jumped into the crowd and stood on the shoulders of his followers to perform, a stunning sight to see, then would you believe dear reader, he commanded “To the Stage!” and proceeded to crowd surf all the way back to the welcoming arms of security…insane. Parkway are well known for blowing stages up and they did not disappoint bringing flame jets on stage, on top of the stage and even from the sound tent that you could feel for hundreds of meters away, I dread to think what that feels like onstage. Hell, they even had fireworks onstage.

Parkway then slowed proceedings, bringing a string quartet on stage, they sounded amazing as the intro for Shadow Boxing and mournful during Darker Still with Winston asking the audience to light the whole ground up with lights, looked amazing. Ending the main set with bombastic Bottom Feeder the crowd singing the guitar hook at the top of their lungs and Winston constantly stomping across to both sides of the stage. He acknowledges the historic moment that is Knotfest coming to Australia and how a bunch of Kids from Byron Bay can make it this far, a lovely and true sentiment. Ending with Crushed and Wild Eyes Winston gave us a message of taking care of each other and lifting up friends who are in low places both emotionally and physically was a very wholesome moment. Parkway Drive impressed the hell out of me. They really put everything they have into every song during their show, and what a show it was, a well-deserved huge ovation seeing them off into their cloud of smoke as they left the stage, another incredible set.

Now it was finally time for Slipknot. Launching into Disasterpiece to start their set a tired and soggy crowd came alive again. I could not believe they followed that up with the iconic Wait and Bleed, people went crazy including me. Corey and the boys in Slipknot sounded immense and intense with Corey’s scream and melodic vocals sounding as strong as ever. The stage design had risers for Clown and Michael Pfaff that lit up like Christmas trees, Craig, and Jay up the back on a built-up platform with lights and screens below them, it all looked so cool especially when the flame jets kicked up. Corey took some time after All Out Life to help a fan, stopping the entire show and asking security and medics to attend and the people to assist them if they could, he stated that the security are there for our safety and wellbeing and to work with security and not against them, a great message for a Slipknot pit which can be a dangerous place to be. He then reminded us how long it’s taken for them to come back and when Corey said seven years, I couldn’t believe it had been that long.



Before I forget is a bonafide Slipknot classic, a huge singalong and sounded incredible. Armed with material from two albums released during their absence from our shores The Dying Song went in the set seamlessly. Corey then admitted he was mortal and aging and needed help singing Dead Memories while we as a crowd disagreed, we took the opportunity to make our voices echo around the ground. Corey seemed to be even more engaging as a front man if that was even possible asking who had seen Slipknot before and who hadn’t, it was surprising to both me and him the amount of people who were seeing Slipknot for the first time, which was a great sign for their legacy. Bringing us all together as a family was the next track, the demolishing Heretic Anthem the ferocious kicks of Jay Weinberg driving the pit into a frenzy. Psychosocial, with that riff, is a personal favourite and seeing it live is just always life changing, especially at that volume. Corey then states that they only have one song left as he tells us we’ll know it when we hear it.

Duality brings the biggest singalong of the day with Clown swinging his flaming baseball bat at the hanging keg to produce that signature clang and the crowd everyone loving every second of it. However it wasn’t their last song, as Corey faked us with the crushing Custer and one more time to end the main set with yet another solid gold classic Spit it Out. Now, those who know Slipknot know the tradition during Spit it Out, and Knotfest Sydney was no different. When the time came to “Get down on the ground, right now” they did so. The crowd in front of the band was immense, no space to be seen, the entire festival had turned up to se their heroes and I am not exaggerating when I say that everyone, from the barrier at the front of the stage, all the way to the food trucks at the back, got down on the ground. When they all jumped up at the same time, it was crazy, you just had to see it to believe it. Slipknot then encored with iconic tracks People = Shit and the traditional Surfacing, the crowd used whatever energy they had left to stir up the pit one more time. Just as I thought Slipknot may have a tough time standing out as there had been so many amazing sets during the day, they not only stood out, but absolutely crushed it.

Slipknot have obviously been headliners for a long time, but the scope of what they have achieved in their career and with this festival is astounding. The layout, the amenities, the food, the bars, the security, the medics, the sound and sound quality, the seating and shade, the extra entertainment (even though you really didn’t get much time to see it), the staging and line-up, the changeover always being on time and nobody was late, just simply every detail about this festival had attention paid to it and was excellent. One more thing I would like to mention before finishing this review, I want to thank the crowd for not only turning up in sell-out and diverse numbers, but really making a day of it. The outfits and costumes, the makeup and hair the atmosphere in general everything was outstanding.

Thank you everyone and thank you Slipknot.


Photos by Hold Still Photography  |  Review by Jon Hurley









Knotfest Australia 2023