This past summer, I crossed a big one off of my bucket list when I saw one of my favorite bands, heavy metal nonet Slipknot, eviscerate a massive crowd at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). For well over a decade, one of my top guilty pleasures had been listening to the band, all of whom are identified by numbers, wear Halloween-style masks and matching jumpsuits onstage and produce a joyous, ear-bleeding cacophony. Their songs are filled with a generous helping of F-bombs, and lead singer Corey Taylor, who’s a pretty normal looking dude out of his insane-asylum-escapee costume, is a side-splitting joy to follow on Twitter (@CoreyTaylorRock).
But their appearance here in Saratoga Springs on August 21 had greater significance than simply fulfilling this Saratogian’s rock-and-roll fantasy: Slipknot was performing at the venue in support of a No.1 album on the Billboard 200 chart. That’s an incredible feat, if you think about it—and one I set out to explore over SPAC’s vaunted history. Here are five artists who’ve achieved the rare one-two punch over the last five decades.
The Doors – September 1, 1968 – Waiting For The Sun
The Doors took the stage at SPAC on the 1st of September supporting the No.1 album in the US, which featured a No.1 single (“Hello, I Love You”) and one of the era’s most memorable Vietnam War protest songs, “The Unknown Soldier.” (The band’s backstage shenanigans at SPAC, involving a piano, have been immortalized on YouTube.)
Bruce Springsteen – July 27, 1984 – Born In The U.S.A.
When crowds of adoring fans joined up for a meeting with the Boss at SPAC in July 1984, he was riding high on the success of his blockbuster album, Born In The U.S.A., which came out at the beginning of the previous month. In classic Springsteen fashion, he played two full sets of music and an encore to the tune of 30 songs.
Whitney Houston – September 2, 1987 – Whitney
Whitney Houston owned the top of the Billboard albums charts for pretty much the entire summer of 1987. From June 27 to September 11, Houston had the No.1 record in the US with her breakout Whitney, which featured a quartet of No.1 singles: “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “So Emotional,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” whose official music video—the one that millions watched on MTV—was recorded during her SPAC show.
Guns N’ Roses – August 6, 1988 – Appetite For Destruction
Fun fact: My older brother bought Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction on cassette tape at the local Strawberries in Saratoga, and my dad, after assessing it child-poisoning ear-smut, attempted to throw it out. (Of course, my brother fished it out of the trash, and it became one of our go-to albums; my favorite was always “Mr. Brownstone” because of the massive swear word dropped in the last verse.) Incredibly, the band wasn’t even headlining SPAC the night of August 6, 1988; they were opening for venerable Boston rockers Aerosmith. But by all accounts, Guns came out blazing and made the Toxic Twins look like toys in the attic.
Slipknot – August 21, 2019 – We Are Not Your Kind
As I mentioned above, Slipknot swung through SPAC this past August, supporting their sixth album, We Are Not Your Kind, which was not only the No.1 album in the US at the time of their performance, but also was No.1 across the pond in the UK. (At one point during their set, lead singer Corey Taylor thanked fans in attendance for helping make that a reality.) Interestingly, the previous month, the album’s lead single, “Unsainted”—which sounds eerily like A Flock of Seagulls’ 1982 Top 10 single “I Ran (So Far Away)”—peaked at No.10 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart.