Published Jan 01, 2006Local openers Damn 13 took the stage to a half-empty venue and barely managed to sustain the crowd's attention with their stylised strain of punky, energetic hard rock. A rather strange choice considering the rest of the bill but none the less, diverting enough to keep the mostly young nu-metal-oriented crowd from falling asleep before the carnage really began. After an atypically short waiting period, Metal Blade/ex-Eulogy Records stalwarts Unearth made their all-too-short appearance and absolutely decimated the audience's expectations. Ripping through track after track of standard-setting Gothenburg-inflected metalcore, Unearth once again made it clear why so many innumerable mediocre groups have followed their lead since 2001's seminal The Stings Of Conscience. Material from the aforementioned classic and the Endless EP fared best, while songs from their recent critically lambasted The Oncoming Storm were admittedly less uninteresting in a live setting. After a roughly 20-minute break, Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz approached the mic. He explained to the crowd that vocalist Howard Jones had blown out his voice and as a result that they were planning on performing with Unearth vocalist Trevor Phipps. Expecting a full set, the crowd was initially accepting of this unexpected development. However, when Killswitch prematurely called it a night after four numbers, groans of disappointment could be heard far and wide, despite Dutkiewicz's enthusiastic promises of making it up to us next time. Having not appeared in Toronto since Ozzfest 2001, Slipknot were extremely well received despite the emphasis on newer material and the occasional lacklustre attempt at more melodic, radio-friendly numbers. Watching thousands of people crouched on their knees preparing to "jump the fuck up" during "Surfacing" was undeniably a sight to behold. Regardless of your stance on the slowly decaying "mook rock" scene (about bloody time), Slipknot are a riveting live act, as the satisfied grins of hundreds of 14-year-olds and the disgusted grimaces of their accompanying parents invariably testified.