The historical Halifax Piece Hall stood innocently pristine as a stampede of Vans, Converse and Adidas Superstars carried a sold out crowd into the Grade I listed building. The unique venue’s squared courtyard, adorned with a 360-degree viewing platform, offers performers and gig goers alike a night nestled away from the usual touring hotspots and the once “cloth hall” is now home to a pick’n’mix nu-metal crowd, some old, some young, some tall and some small.
For some this is now a family evening out, introducing the latest generation of nu-metal boppers to the giant of the genre. The mark left by those late 90’s/early 00’s years is on ample display. The crowd sport an eclectic range of apparel from baseball shirts and washed out wrestling tees to chunky footwear, dreadlocks, vivid hair colours, baggy jeans and pop culture tattoos a plenty. Not forgetting a sea of red baseball caps. You got it, tonight Limp Bizkit take Halifax and it’s crowd back to 1999. Is there a more instantly iconic look than Fred Durst and his red cap? It’s been over 20 years since we even last associated it with the Yankees.
The night begins joyously, courtesy of the high-energy support acts Joey Valence and Brea followed by Kenny Hoopla. Their hip-hop energy, coupled with a generous sprinkling of swagger and attitude, set the tone for the night. It’s kind of impossible not to smile watching them. Adorned in 90s-inspired sunglasses, hoodies and baggy shorts, these acts showcase a visual aesthetic reminiscent of the era Limp Bizkit defined. The energetic deck-hand of Joey Valence and Brea notably filming the crowd’s real time reactions. It’s now just as custom to see phones on stage as it is in the crowd, and not just with the younger generations as it crops up again in Limp Bizkit’s set later on as Fred records a video he claims he’ll send to his mom (despite the profanities!). Different generations inspiring one another.
Between the make up of the crowd and the youthful exuberance owning the stage we begin to feel our age, but not in a bad way. It’s the first time we’ve realised there is a generation of people pining for our own past lived era the same we we did for the 70’s and 80’s when we were teenagers. Instead of complaining about how our parents had Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the Grateful Dead and dressing as though we were going to see them anyway, here’s a bunch of kids doing the same thing to us and embracing that unforgettable nu-metal explosion we were so lucky to experience as young teenagers. If only we’d kept our JNCO’s.
As the venue lights dim and the PA system resonates with a menacing riff coupled with the question “Who’s in the house?” a ripple of anticipation runs through the crowd like a ring walk before a fight. Attendees begin to shake themselves loose and sway in rhythm, building an air of excitement, all before Limp Bizkit take center stage.
Fred Durst and co. come straight out of the traps with Show Me What You Got, instantly quintessentially Limp Bizkit, fusing hip hop beats and fat ass rhymes before a skeleton painted Wes Borland hits that riff and the entire crowd starts to bounce. Despite technical hiccups with his side-stage lights, Wes’ charisma and skill shone brightly. The band’s energy immediately captivates the bouncing audience, prompting Durst to remark, “I can feel you. It’s going to go crazy. Here we go!“
It isn’t long before John Otto takes it to the matthews bridge and the crowd are at the point of no return, bouncing along to every drum beat. Fred Durst sporting his iconic red cap (not always a given these days) is effortlessly cool moving around the stage with the biggest bling necklace known to man, his style has always been kinda fresh!
A trio of hits from Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water – My Generation, Hot Dog, and the funnest anthem ever conceived Rollin’ – transport the audience back to a time when these songs ignited rebellious fervour. “Play something that Tom Cruise would like “is the green light for the band to launch into one of their biggest hits in Take A Look Around, the entire venue is loving it.
How do you follow that up? Surely not with a new offering? Dad Vibes is a testament to the enduring appeal of that trademark LB quality and the band’s continuing creativity. Limp Bizkit certainly still suck. Mix this with a homage to their musical roots with playful covers of Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box and Smells Like Teen Spirit. The band are clearly enjoying themselves, this is all about having a good time.
Continuing with that sentiment, a poignant moment of fan interaction unfolds as Durst extends an invitation to a young woman to join him on stage for a rendition of Full Nelson. Displaying a playful vetting process, Durst teases the audience with the opening riff of the song and asks who among them is familiar with its lyrics. Durst, like the true showman that he is, helps the fan push past the “oh my f***ing god!” moment and loosen up to karaoke the song on stage. A once in a lifetime experience for this audience member who, you got it, is sporting a backwards cap. Before leaving the stage Durst insists on a selfie, showing that he’s embraced and switched on to the current concert culture and welcomes it with tattooed arms open. This gesture underscores the band’s genuine gratitude towards their fans, culminating in a snapshot of mutual admiration. An authentic exchange, laced with candidness.
At one point Durst queries what the crowd keep chanting (a local sporting chant). A member of the crowd clarifies this by typing “Yorkshire” on their phone. Fred is clearly feeding off of the crowd and uses this to join in on the chanting, “YORKSHIRE, YORKSHIRE, YORKSHIRE!” It is to no surprise that he soon dedicates Behind Blue Eyes to Yorkshire, saying that it’s “f***ing dope”.
Once upon a time the mosh pit was a whirlwind of chaos, it’s great to see it transformed into a place where fans uplift one another, filled with positive and loving energy. In his interaction with the crowd, Durst playfully remarked, “I had no idea the energy was going to be so f**king dope tonight. This might be my new favourite spot.” His spirit is contagious, and the crowd revel in the sentiment. It’s a pleasure to see how Durst and co. have matured over the last handful of years. Along with their fans any indication of pretence is long gone and everyone knows exactly why they’re at a Limp Bizkit concert. To hear the hits, let the teenager back out for a couple of hours to scream in angst at the top of your lungs and spend the disposable income you didn’t have as a youngster in the 00’s.
Limp Bizkit’s Halifax show is undeniable proof of nu-metal’s resurgence, although thanks to the unbreakable bond between a band and the once teenagers that adored them we’re not sure it ever really needed one. It never goes away, no matter how many of the adult responsibilities we once fought so hard against we now have. Tonight Durst and co. effortlessly summoned echoes of the past while projecting a more loving future for Nu-Metal.