It takes mucho cojones—18 of them, apparently—to stage a giant, carnival-like festival for your first live appearance in a foreign country, and that’s exactly what SLIPKNOT did in December of 2015 when they held the seventh Knotfest in Toluca, Mexico (about an hour’s drive west of Mexico City). The band’s performance was captured on the just-released “Day Of The Gusano”, but instead of being advertised as a live DVD or concert film, “Gusano” (Spanish for “maggot”, a word long ago appropriated by the band to describe its fans) has been described as a “documentary”.
Don’t be misled, however, for around four-fifths of its 90-minute running time, “Gusano”, which was screened in select theaters around the world, shows SLIPKNOT performing a 16-song set before an enormous, passionate crowd. (For reasons unknown, the DVD and Blu-ray editions rearrange the track listing from the audio-only release. That version showcases the group’s complete 17-song set in the same order in which it was performed, and omits “People = Shit”.) The remaining quarter-hour or so primarily features snippets of interviews with unmasked band members and a handful of unidentified Mexican fans, with both camps attempting to portray the group’s arrival in town as a Really. Big. Deal.
Unfortunately, “Gusano” is far more effective as a document of SLIPKNOT‘s live fury than when it aims to be something more. The concert footage—captured exceptionally in every imaginable angle by 15 cameras, plus a GoPro or two—looks glorious, and save for a few jarring cuts and some shaky footage filmed inside a mosh pit, its direction by the band’s Shawn “Clown” Crahan is more than competent. The sound is sterling as well, and presented here in both LPCM stereo and DTS-HD. If you’ve never seen the band in concert or simply want to relive the SLIPKNOT live experience, it’s hard to imagine a better vehicle through which to do so than “Gusano”.
Therein lies the problem, though. After every two or three songs, Crahan cuts to a brief vignette with titles such as “Getting To Know One Another”, “Wandering Around” and “Step Inside”. Although the sincerity of the fans being interviewed is clear—one says he sold his Fender guitar in order to buy a Knotfest ticket, while another says he declined the graduation gift of a car in favor of travel funds to make it to the show—these segments are too short and superficial to leave a lasting impact. It’s also a bit awkward that none of the fans are ever identified by name. Granted, that might be intentional, in a “Fight Club”/we’re-all-maggots sort of way, but still, more context would have given the clips more resonance.
Even worse, unlike the songs in the band’s set list, these vignettes are not indexed in the menu, making it impossible to watch them a la carte or even locate them without ample use of the fast-forward button. It would also have been more user-friendly to provide the option to view “Gusano” with or without the vignettes—similar to when a DVD offers the choice between a film’s theatrical or unrated version—so that the live footage, which maggots will surely rewatch to a greater extent, could be experienced without interruption.
Perhaps the highest compliment that can be given to that live footage is that whether or not you’re a SLIPKNOT fan, it’s too compelling to look away. There’s always something going on onstage, from cherry pickers that levitate custom percussion rigs, to the columns of flames that punctuate multiple songs, to Sid Wilson sprinting across the stage while hoisting a Mexican flag during “Vermillion”, to Corey Taylor asking the crowd to get down, literally, before commanding them to “jump the fuck up” during “Spit It Out”.
After the credits finish rolling, Crahan—fresh from the stage, apparently—offers a few seconds of post-show reflection, saying that the group’s first Mexican concert “lived up to expectations.” If you watch “Gusano” hoping to see a documentary, you might not say the same, but as a snapshot of SLIPKNOT‘s live power, “Gusano” delivers the goods.