Sep 24, 2021 - Things to Do

Slipknot returns to Iowa for Knotfest

Shawn Crahan of Slipknot performs in Denmark in February 2020.

Knotfest — Slipknot's giant metal music festival — is drawing in 30,000 fans from around the world to the National Balloon Classic field just outside Indianola this Saturday.

  • To put it into perspective: Wells Fargo Arena's capacity is 16,000. Indianola's population? 15,000.

Why it matters: Iowa is a seemingly odd location when you consider Slipknot has drawn masses of fans, aka "maggots," to festivals in Japan, Colombia and France.

  • But Slipknot is Des Moines born and raised. And growing up in the Midwest makes you metal.

In honor of the return of the city's most famous band to Iowa, let's walk through the history of Slipknot's local ties.

How it started: Back in the 90s, Des Moines' music scene was particularly small — or as lead vocalist Corey Taylor once put it: "very incestuous."

  • But before Taylor became their frontman, percussionist Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray got together with Joey Jordison on the drums to perform provocative shows with several others, often shocking audiences.

At one point, Crahan bought his own bar for the band to perform in because they were banned from every other Des Moines establishment.

  • "We were too nuts and everyone was scared of us," Crahan said in a past interview with Revolver Magazine.

Fame started after the band self-released their first album in 1996. They got a record deal and the self-titled album “Slipknot” caught fire in 1999.

  • The band's highly aggressive music, combined with their ability to bring shock and awe to the stage, drew wide reception during a post-rock era of "anti-showmanship," in the late 90s and early 2000s, writes Musician Guide.
  • "If you can make it in Des Moines, or come out of Des Moines, I think you can pretty much do it anywhere," the late Jordison said in a 1999 interview.

As for their iconic style: During practice one day, Crahan refused to take off a clown mask despite it "creeping" people out. The look stuck.

What they're saying: Indianola Mayor Pam Pepper said she's expecting the festival to be so big that local stores and restaurants may sell out of supplies.

But we wanted to know: Is she a fan of the band?

  • "My music tastes are a wide variety so I listen to a little bit of everything, how about that," Pepper told Axios.

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