Don’t let SNW fade into that good night, keep the dream alive. A mass celebration of alternative metal is rare and should be completely over-analyzed until it happens again. As such, join NMA in looking at the setlist of the bands - what they played, what they didn’t and what they should’ve.
Flyleaf opened with the first song off their last album with Lacey. Unsurprisingly most of what we got was from the self-titled, the classics and then some. It’s a bummer “I’m Sorry” always gets left out of that criterion, it’s a solid track of the same caliber as “I’m So Sick” and “All Around Me” yet never receives the love it longingly deserves. That song is old enough to vote now; hopefully it does so for a congress that appreciates it as the gem it do be. The penultimate “So I Thought” was a moment of respite in a catalog otherwise filled with banshee throes.
You already know Evanescence closed with “Bring Me to Life” so scratch it off the bingo card. No “Sweet Sacrifice” is disappointing, especially with how well The Open Door has aged since 2006. The self-titled goes hard too, and yet we only got “Made of Stone” from their 2011 effort. Evanescence are still on the circuit for their latest album, but come on: Five tracks off of The Bitter Truth? Pretty brutal for a quick ten song set, especially for those jonesin’ for the big hitters. Not that I'm complaining. Well maybe a little.
Loathe did not even kind of fuck around. Five tracks off the best alt metal album of the new decade, and one track from the best ambient record since then. I saw them perform I Let it in and It Took Everything in full last October and they mentioned having new tracks in the arsenal. Alas, we remain in the dark. The anticipation is now at a boiling point, but the songs they did pull are timeless. Loathe consolidated three of their softest tracks into the middle of the set, with the heavies played as intros and outros. It resembles a sandwich… with very aggressive bread.
In Super Smash Metal Bros, Deftones would be Mario - a balanced player with solid openers and finishers. They sound checked with “Diamond Eyes” and “Rosemary” but never played the latter. Gore and Saturday Night Wrist received no love on the evening of May 13th, but we did get Adrenaline closers and two of the best tracks off of their self-titled: "Needles and Pins" & "Bloody Cape". Around the Fur unsurprisingly had the most plays of the night and I don’t think anyone has any qualms with this. White Pony was second place with three tracks and every other album had two tracks played. It’s like Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, for the emotionally unsound.
I’m curious how people viewed the Placebo set because, much like every other decision Placebo has had for the last 12 years, what the fuck were they thinking. Closing with their Kate Bush cover, after a Tears for Fears cover, playing only one song off Sleeping With Ghosts which is only very (VERY) loosely their metal-adjacent album. Much like Evanescence, Placebo is still plugging their last record and I'm curious how the audience, specifically younger enthusiasts, reacted to it. Moreover, only ONE track off the debut? Unreal. Any relevant song in their repertoire was not played at this festival. There’s something to be said about Molko and Olsdal, they don't give a fuck about what anyone thinks. Sometimes, I wish they did.
Incubus took some notes from the Placebo show and played two cover songs, though debatably less egregious on their own terms. The most Incubus thing you could do in 2023 is perform Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” after your own “Wish You Were Here” and that probably induced a few illnesses. But a shocking ZERO tracks off of S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is insane and possibly unforgivable, right? They didn’t get too in the weeds with their records post-2006 though, likely what everyone was banking on. Maybe one day Incubus will remember they wrote one of the best nu-metal albums of the 90’s. Maybe.
System of a Down played 31 songs and if anyone complains about this then they’re just bored. I’m not sure what more you can ask from these dudes at this point. The tenacity to play 2 hours of metal at their age is unironically unparalleled. Every album had a track played, even Demo Tape 1 had a song played. Statistically, this set is everything you could have ever wanted. It echoes moments from their legendary Yerevan set in 2015. Didn’t quite reach the same level however. The clip of the audience screaming back “Why do they always send the poor?” literally gave me chills.
Death Grips played a healthy curation of everything except Bottomless Pit and YOTS. They pulled from The Money Store and seemingly with great reception too, although the set was cut short before "The Fever (Aye Aye)" because of time constraints. Exmilitary getting love even so far out from its release makes my heart warm and fuzzy - "Guillotine" is how you should open a set, even for artists that aren’t Death Grips. All albums between 2012 and 2015 had one song pulled. If you were like me and never that much of a fan of Death Grips, check out footage of them live. With a visual component the pieces of the puzzle are forced together.
There’s no shortage of gross bootleg clips you can find online of one of the best alternative metal festivals in the past decade. Do yourself a favor and get acquainted with these performances. It’s a solid reference point for when SNW 2024 comes back around and slaps us silly with the fervor we’ve been anticipating for. Until then, keep it tuned to NMA where we’ll be covering all things related and relevant.