SPECIAL REVIEW : SLIPKNOT — Day of the Gusano (documentary)
This is a special review of the upcoming Slipknot documentary "Day of the Gusano", which will be released in a one-night-only, worldwide theatre premiere on September 6, 2017. Check the dates for a screening event near you!
Slipknot is by far one of the most recognizable bands in the world. Having gained notoriety in the very late 90s and early 2000s due to their fresh sound and the intriguing nature of the perpetually-masked musicians, the Iowans quickly established themselves as a must-see act with their energetic and sometimes downright violent performances. Slipknot has traveled the world multiple times over and played for hordes of some of the most insatiable fans on the planet, though one country seemed to always be missing from their tour dates. The band's latest documentary, Day of the Gusano, focuses on Slipknot's very first show in Mexico and takes fans past and present alike on a 91 minute ride of rabid metal.
Filmed during Knotfest México's first edition in December of 2015, the documentary is not unlike most other music documentaries out there, in some regards. It features tons of live footage as well as interviews with die-hard fans who waited over a decade and a half to see their favourite bands, and interviews with the band members themselves. But that's about where the similarities stop. Day of the Gusano has the very distinct advantage of being directed by percussionist M. Shawn “Clown” Crahan, the only remaining founding member of Slipknot. Instead of being a self-indulgent documentary on the band, Day of the Gusano focuses on what matters most to Slipknot: fan experience.
The documentary serves up over a dozen live tracks filmed at the historic show to truly make those who missed it jealous and aching for Slipknot's next tour. A giant demon head presides high above the band, its eyes lighting up different colours throughout the set, assuring the spectators from the beginning that they are in for a hell of a time. The stage is large and impressive and multiple platforms and ramps create a multi-level playground for the nine musicians. The live footage jumps from one musician to another rapidly, sort of the way a fan’s eyes would dart from person to person, ensuring that not a moment is missed. Whether it’s Crahan’s own antics or those of his equally-lively bandmates, the viewers are treated to every delightful moment of the crazy ride.
“Sorry it took so long,” guitarist Jim Root half-apologetically, half-jokingly says as the subject of why it took 17 years for Slipknot to make their way to Mexico is broached. The documentary doesn’t really provide an answer, but judging by the reactions of the spectators throughout the show, the performance of the band more than made up for the wait. As Slipknot played one fan-pleasing track after another, from “Sarcastrophe” and “Custer” to “Wait and Bleed” and “Surfacing”, the crowd 40,000-strong is so dense and yet moves so much that every aerial shot of the impressive mass of people looks exactly like what you would expect the aptly-named Slipknot fans to look like: a pile of maggots. Restless, ravenous, and ridiculously loud, even the most demented songs like “Eyeless” and “Prosthetics” cannot drown out the fervor of the Mexican crowd, though their rhapsody can truly be heard during “The Devil in I.” With just red lights, only silhouettes of the band members visible, and the crowd almost drowning out frontman Corey Taylor - a remarkable feat since “The Devil in I” is hands down the song that best highlights his vocal chops in the entire documentary - the entire moment would send shivers down the spine of the devil himself.
And though the entirety of the live footage captured for the purpose of this documentary is a captivating reminder of why Slipknot has been relevant for so many years, the really great stuff comes between the songs. The maggots - the fans that have kept Slipknot alive for nearly two decades - are interviewed and their passion for the band they are finally going to see live is contagious, but also inspiring. One sold his Fender to be able to attend Knotfest. Another took the money his parents were going to use to buy him a car to book flights and hotel. One battled cancer and credits music for getting through that tough time. Day of the Gusano focuses heavily on the fans, their passion for Slipknot and their experience. And their significance to the band.
Because, despite the group having been a global sensation for half my life, nothing matters more to Slipknot than their fans, the very reason for their success. The tail-end of the documentary shows a private meet and greet between the maggots interviewed for the Day of the Gusano and the band they adored. Emotions run high, the fans choke back tears, clearly overwhelmed by the thought of meeting the musicians, but the love and respect between maggots and musicians is real. Despite the language barrier for some and the nervousness for all, the meeting is a beautiful sight to behold. To see a band that has been at the top of their game for so long so humbled by meeting some of their fans and to see that their fans touch them as much as the musicians touch those who buy their records, shirts, concert tickets, and other merchandise is truly gripping and serves as a nice reminder of the humanity of them all.
As a nice almost-finishing touch, during “The Heretic Anthem,” the crowd footage changes from mostly aerial views to showing specific people: the people present during the meet and greet. One who wears a mask that he got Taylor to try on when they met, one who didn't speak English but still made the hardened frontman tear up… all singing in unison to the iconic line from the song. “If you’re 555, then I’m 666.” And, apparently, if you’re a Slipknot fan, then you all speak the same language.
Day of the Gusano is a poignant documentary, and while raw and metal in every way during the live tracks, the emphasis put on the fans, their experience, and the experience of the viewers is truly worth watching for those who love Slipknot, those who don’t, and those who once did.
Slipknot - "Day of the Gusano" (trailer, 2017)
Intrigued? Find a screening event near you for Day of the Gusano's worldwide theatre premiere on September 6, 2017!*
*Date may be different depending on your region.
All photos used in this article taken brilliantly by Ravenscape.