It”s a great time to be alive when you can rely on four hours of energizing entertainment. From start to finish the Pledge of Allegiance tour provided just that, a complete scope of musical delight made that much better with a variety of stage enhancements including slide shows, porno and fire.

Paul Wong
Slipknot makes the crowd cry during their performance on the Pledge tour.<br><br>JOHN PRATT/Daily

Opening the night was Chicago-based newcomers No One, who held their own, warming up and eliciting a positive response from what was arguably an extremely hard to please audience of overly anguished teens. Next, German aggressive rock group, Rammstein, brought flames and fun to the Grand Rapids venue, playing through a set of foreign lyrics, heavy guitars and explosions. The best complement to the Europeans is that despite the language barrier there was an ample number of audience members singing along with the entire performance.

Next up for the pleasure of the fanatic fans was System of a Down, whose highly anticipated new record Toxicity”s success was followed up by the equally highly anticipated live performance. Taking the visual aspect one notch further, System of a Down opened with “Prison Song” an ode to the failing American penal system, playing in front of a giant projection screen that flashed relevant images of criminal enclosures.

From that point the slide show increased in relevance and intensity while System ran down the best of both their new and old albums including “Suite Pee,” the new single “Chop Suey,” “War,” “Bounce” and paused to explain that their new song “Psycho” was inspired by a situation involving “hard-ons and cocaine.”

Despite the American flags that hung from the set and rafters of the venue, System of a Down did not back down from their political lyrics or risqu visual tactics. Where most bands have toned down their themes or plausibly offensive words, System of a Down refused to give into pressures and played a hard hour set, letting loose any and everything they had. Jumping around on stage and carrying on as they always have hard, motivated and most excellent they reminded everyone that in the face of the hard times, there is a need to move on. The pleased crowd responded with full force moshing, expanding the floor area into an all inclusive mosh pit.

System left the stage having stirred up enough enthusiasm for the headliners Slipknot. Seizure inducing strobe lights and pyrotechnics brought out the nine masked boys for their reign of metal dominance. Corey Taylor led the crew on vocals while the remaining members split their duties between three drummers, one of whom became the much needed intermediary triangle player, three guitarists, a DJ and a keyboardist the kids were definitely there to see their jumpsuit heroes.

Bringing out what at the least could be described as an intense devotion of followers, Slipknot paused between songs like “Wait and Bleed,” “Surfacing,” “Spit It Out” and “People Equals Shit,” and exercised their mesmerizing power in the form of a public service message. While informing the audience that “the Pledge of Allegiance Tour was almost cancelled because the promoters didn”t think that America needed hard music at a time like this,” Taylor asked for a moment of silence, persisting to plead until the arena fell quiet for the recent tragedies. He then proceeded to let people know “what is wrong today, that hate crimes have increased 58 percent since Sept. 11.” After asking everyone to remember that we are all Americans and need to fight hate with love for each other, Corey had one last request “That you motherfuckers out there make the pit into the largest cyclone, hurricane, circular shit this state has ever seen.” The floor complied creating one of the most dangerous body slam sites to date, resulting in 58 injuries and at least seven or more unconscious states.

Ending with what they declared to be the national anthem which, by the way, did not consist of the “Star Spangled Banner” in any form, the night provided just what everyone came looking for an intense and somewhat dangerous rock show.

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