Knotfest: One year later


With approximately 30,000 in attendance coupled with water availability issues, the one day festival was eventful.

by Caleb Geer, Editor-in-Chief

On Sept. 25, 2021, I got to experience one of the coolest things I have ever lived through, and it all happened just down the road from Simpson’s campus. Approximately 30,000 people would assemble in the middle of a field in rural Iowa.

I’m talking about Knotfest, which took place at the National Balloon Classic Field in Indianola and had one of the craziest lineups I have ever seen, along with two huge stages bands would alternate playing on. I was overjoyed when I saw the opportunity. Even when Faith No More backed out over their lead singer’s mental health concerns, my excitement hardly waned. The idea that so many bands that I loved would be coming to play in a random field in Iowa blew me away.

The stacked lineup for the one-day festival included many of my favorite bands, such as Megadeth, Lamb of God, Trivium and headliner Slipknot. Other big names included Suicideboys, Tech N9ne and Gojira.

By the time the festival date came around, I had arrangements to go with a group I knew from school. We eventually decided we would go later in the day and skip many of the opening bands. This proved to be a saving grace. If I had gone for the entire day, I don’t believe I would have lasted until Slipknot. By the end of the night, my voice was nearly gone, I was dehydrated and having a hard time keeping my feet underneath myself amidst the crowd’s surge of energy when the headlining band took the stage.

When Slipknot began their opener, “Unsainted,” I was barely 20 yards from the front of the stage, and the crowd was packed so tight, I could hardly move. I had long since lost the group I was with that day and was completely alone in a sea of people. When I got hit by someone and almost fell over, I immediately collided with the next person, which kept me from completely falling. I will never forget how I felt in that moment: terrified yet exhilarated, feeling fully alive even though I was seemingly drained of all my energy.

Although I was able to last until Slipknot, I do regret not going earlier because Turnstile, a band I have come to love, played early in the day. The lack of available water and the small amount of water I consumed in the first place leads me to believe it was better that I showed up late, however.

Availability of water was a huge issue at the festival. I remember waiting in line for around an hour to purchase some. At one point, the vendor sold entire cases of water away to groups of customers as they were demanding water. I also witnessed people collapse out of what I would assume was heat exhaustion. I cannot imagine what medical services at the festival went through that day. Dehydration and heat exhaustion were common and heavily reported after the festival.

The festival was planned out strangely, and with the approximate 30,000 fans in attendance, resources were strained. Parking consisted of people leaving their vehicles scattered around the hilly area in semi-straight lines. Festival attendees parked up and down the gravel roads that lead to the venue as well making for a mess when everyone was trying to leave.

After the last song was played, I found myself wandering around a sloping field of cars trying to find my ride back to campus. Luckily, I found the car, and my group made it back, moving slowly on the car-clogged gravel roads. To me, one of the strangest parts of the day was stepping back into the absurd silence of my room in Buxton Hall after hearing nothing but ear-destroying music all day long. It felt like it had almost been a dream.

One of the best days of my life, and it could have still gone a lot better. Many festival-goers left angry or unsatisfied due to an assortment of issues, but Knotfest will forever have my heart. Sadly, I thought the festival would be back this year, but it is not.

I am looking forward to the possibility of it coming back next fall if the rumors I have heard are true.

I may have been depleted of all hydration and energy at the end of the day, but every song, band, and mosh pit I experienced was well worth it. If the festival makes a return, I will be there.