Concert Reviews

Halloween Comes Early: Marilyn Manson and Slipknot at the Pepsi Center

Marilyn Manson has been keeping sets short on his current tour, which he's co-headlining with Slipknot, and the performance at the Pepsi Center on Sunday, August 7, was no different. Even at eleven songs, the Manson set felt like it passed all too quickly. This despite set and costume changes between virtually every song.

Manson himself came off more focused and engaged than he did the last time he was in Denver, at the Fillmore. He even left the stage to stand with and roam around the crowd at the end of “The Beautiful People.” His vocals weren't ragged, emotionally charged screaming. During “Coma White,” the mic stand festooned with red flowers, we saw and heard the Manson of old as he deftly switched between the more screamy vocals and his fine singing voice.

Slipknot came on stage after David Bowie's “Fashion." A drummer could flank either side of the stage on a hydraulic spinning platform. A full-kit drummer sat in the back, and the DJ and keyboard player sat on either side of him on platforms of their own that could also rise into the air. Everyone in the band wore masks and looked like a gang of serial killers. Visually, the whole presentation worked with the fast-paced, aggressive music in a way that enhanced the experience of the show instead of seeming like a gimmick.
Slipknot singer Corey Taylor bemusedly referred to the fact that Slipknot hadn't been to Denver in a while (the last time was in August 2015, so not so long ago), partly because of a spinal injury he'd experienced. But he made sure to let Denver know that it was one of his very favorite places to play in the world and referred to the people who showed up as not merely friends, but family. (His language mirrored that of the Insane Clown Posse's line about its members being family, which makes sense: Slipknot regularly plays with ICP.)

Visual aesthetics aside, Slipknot re-established that it doesn't fully fit into its nü-metal label. Yes, Taylor's rapid-fire singing, cadence and tone recall Chuck D and Mike Patton, and the band has a DJ. But that DJ never seems to operate as a token contributor in a rap-rock vein. Rather, his soundscaping between interludes was dark and more in line with ambient music or noise than hip-hop. At this concert (and all along its career), Slipknot created a different vocabulary for metal without resorting to a clumsy hybrid. The costumes and theatrics merely made it possible for the band to create an experience separate from reality, something at which Manson excels as well.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.