If you’ve ever screamed the words ‘If you’re 555…then I’m 666’ at the top of the lungs, you’ve most likely heard that the almighty Slipknot are finally launching KnotFest UK. Taking place at the legendary National Bowl in Milton Keynes on Saturday 22nd August 2020, Iowa’s nu-metal icons will bring their mind-altering collision of music, art and culture to this side of the pond for the first time ever.

It’s not the first time Corey Taylor and co. have set sights on conquering these shores. Since their first ever UK headline show at the gone-but-not-forgotten Astoria in 1999, they’ve been on an upward trajectory delivering some of the most chaotic, historic and iconic shows in heavy metal history.

Whilst you wait for Milton Keynes, here’s 6(66) times Slipknot conquered the United Kingdom.

London Astoria, December 13th 1999

In a time where Cliff Richard was still racking up month-long reigns at Number One in the single charts, Slipknot were an unknown species from another planet when they first headlined in the UK.

Having already crafted a reputation for lightning-fast live shows that left a trail of chaos and carnage in its wake, the Iowan’s laid waste to London’s beloved Astoria on their first-ever UK headline show days before Santa Claus would yet again grace our living rooms. Running through a mouth-watering ten-song set that sounds like a rally cry for their self-titled nu-metal masterpiece, Slipknot kicked off the European leg of their aptly-named World Domination tour in true Maggot fashion.

As the lucky few who got to bare witness to this early-era show attest, Slipknot at the Astoria was as intense and as invigorating and as incredible as you can imagine. The fact that back then they were closing sets with Eeyore and Scissors is enough to suggest they were breaking down barricades and blurring the lines between what bands could and couldn’t get away with.

London Dockland Arena, February 15th 2002 (Disasterpieces)

Having shocked the world by stealing the Number One album spot from the clutches of indie icons The Strokes and boyband blunders Five with their sophomore album Iowa in 2001, Slipknot sent shivers down the spines of the UK when they headlined the London Arena in 2002. Playing a sold-out show to 15,000 maggots, it was their biggest headline show in the UK at the time and was captured on camera and released on the now notorious Disasterpieces DVD.

Playing the day after Valentines, the Nine pummelled through a set so pit-tastic any broken hearts were bandaged up by their display of nu-metal mastery. The juxtaposition of following songs as heavy as Eeyore and Disasterpiece with songs as hauntingly warping as Purity and Gently is just one of the many reasons this show is so iconic. Let’s not forget the moment Slipknot solidified their infamous ‘If you’re 555, then I’m 666’ chant during an explosive rendition of The Heretic Anthem. This was yet another stepping stone on their way to becoming one of the most iconic live bands on the planet.

Reading Festival 2002

Reading has always been the home of pop culture. If it’s the music of the people at that time, it’ll be there. Whether it was the goth-rock takeover of the mid-eighties, the mid-nineties battle of Britpop extravaganza or the more recent hip-hop and pop-rock packed line-ups, it’s been a fair assessment of where the UK’s music taste is at. On a bill headlined by rave icons The Prodigy and pop-punkers The Offspring, Slipknot stole the show by taking the Main Stage by storm at teatime on the Sunday of Reading’s 2002 edition.

Opening with People = Shit, Liberate and Left Behind, an entire generation of festival goers were exposed to a whole new world of musical entertainment. From inviting a kid on stage to help Corey head-bang his way through My Plague to destroying the stage piece-by-piece for Wait and Bleed, Reading 2002 was a sight the Main Stage had never seen before. It was a set that would steer them towards festival greatness in the years to come.

Download 2009

This was it. This was the moment Slipknot had spent their entire careers slaving away for. Already well on their way to becoming Download favourites, the Nine were finally being given the opportunity to headline a festival in the UK. Little did we know they were about to deliver a set that would long go down in the history books (and Facebook groups) as contender for the greatest Download set of all time.

Opening with the mosh-inducing knockout blow of (sic), Eyeless, Wait and Bleed and Get This from 1999’s self-titled, Slipknot tore up the textbook for headline performances, running through a gauntlet of greatest hits, visiting their most recent album All Hope Is Gone only three times throughout.

Duality has long been a staple of Slipknot shows, but at Download 2009 it became the national anthem of maggots and metalheads across the country. Sung word-for-word, any doubt that the Iowan’s could conquer the hallowed turf of Donington was blown away.

Sonisphere 2011

Following the passing of bassist, songwriter and founding member Paul Gray on the 24th May 2010, Slipknot went into a state of silence. A year later, they returned to our shores to headline Sonisphere 2011 at Knebworth, yet another iconic British venue to add to their list.

Closing the Sunday night of the festival, Slipknot celebrated the life of their fallen brother with a visceral and vulgar display of power, channelling the raw energy they exposed the world to back in the Iowa days. Paul’s uniform and trademark mask stood hauntingly on-stage throughout the set, reminding us all that he will never be forgotten.

From Joey’s spinning upside-down drumkit antics to Corey and Clown’s psychotic Frail Limb Nursery interlude into Purity, Sonisphere was a Slipknot set to remember. Having played the same weekend as the Big 4 extravaganza featuring Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, Slipknot refused to be outdone. With the rain hammering down (it wouldn’t be a Slipknot set without rain, would it?) and the mud filling up, 60,000 maggots dropped to the ground only to jump back up moments later during THAT moment in Spit It Out.

Download 2019

Having turned the final page of The Gray Chapter in 2016, Slipknot hadn’t graced the United Kingdom or any stage the world over since. Having released the spine-tingling rage-driven singles All Out Life and Unsainted, with the promise of an album that sounded somewhat like Iowa, the excitement and expectation ahead of their Download 2019 headline set was tantalisingly palpable.

With the Download faithful standing in sinking swamps of atomic mud, Slipknot erupted wave after wave after wave of circle pits with surprise opener People = Shit. If that wasn’t enough, they dug out some deep cuts from the depths of their back catalogue including the neck-breaking Get This, the harrowing Prosthetics and the underrated anthemic Sulphur.

If the set itself wasn’t iconic enough, Clown set his patented baseball bat alight, beating anything and everything in sight with it. Following the set’s one-two punch finale of Spit It Out and Surfacing, Clown was joined by his children, silently saying thank you for the support they’ve received following recent personal events, whilst the haunting ‘Til We Die played out over the speakers.

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