It is hard to believe that KoRn’s self-titled LP was released twenty years ago. This is an album driven by angst, anger, moments of weakness, and a desire to be heard and understood. KoRn catapulted music to the next level by pioneering the “nu-metal” sound with a combination of heavily dropped tunings, solid power chords, thundering drum beats, and rock/rap vocals that set them apart from the rest of the metal genre. Since their inception in the early 90s KoRn has been nominated for several music achievement awards, winning two Grammys, several Mtv VMA’s, and Revolver Magazines Golden Gods Award for best album in 2012, to name a few. In 2013 we saw the return of one of the founding members Brian “Head” Welch to round out the current line-up of Jonathan Davis, Bassist Fieldy, guitarist James “Munkey” Schaffer, and drummer Ray Luzier.
The show tonight at The Fillmore took fans back to where it all started. The hanging backdrop was of original artwork from the self-titled album. A few high powered strobes, and simple yellow hanging fluorescents, and plain white moving lights and faux candles were used to keep the stage lit during their set. Very nondescript mic stands are being used, and even Ray’s drum kit was scaled back to one kick drum, his snare, a few toms and his cymbals. There was definitely no loss in quality coming from the stage as KoRn dove right in to performing the eponymous album in its entirety.
Murmured conversation, when added together in the venue, became a roar while the fans in attendance anxiously waited for Jonathan Davis to growl the first line “ARE YOU READY?” from the first single ‘Blind’ before starting the frantic concert dance consisting of pushing and shoving. There was no doubt this tour is emotional for the band. Writing lyrics, from personal experiences that touch on some of the most difficult topics in society, KoRn found their outlet. Between sexual abuse, rape, harassment, drug addiction, and violence, overcoming obstacles has been a big part of their lives. There was very little banter with the crowd between songs. The band seemed to want to give everyone an opportunity to savor the moment. The bagpipe intro to ‘Shoots and Ladders’ marked the half way point to what was already an epic set. The band showed no signs of slowing down. ‘Daddy’ the final track on the album, was also the last song of the set. One of the most difficult songs for Jonathan Davis to perform has become the bands least performed live song. “When I was a kid, I was being abused by somebody else and I went to my parents and told them about it, and they thought I was lying and joking around. They never did shit about it. They didn’t believe it was happening to their son…. I don’t really like to talk about that song. This is as much as I’ve ever talked about it….” (according to Wikipedia 2015) Although Jonathan seems to be more comfortable with it now, he didn’t make eye contact with the crowd and before the final note escaped his lips, Davis practically threw the mic down and walked off stage.
To transition out of such an emotional roller coaster the road crew swapped out the microphone stand commissioned by artist H.R. Giger. Symbolic of taking your pain and making it work for you, the mix of erotic and biomechanical art is a staple of KoRn’s stage design since the early 2,000s. Instantly a change had come over the band when they launched into their five song encore. ‘Falling Away’, ‘Here To Stay’, ‘Coming Undone’, ‘Did My Time’ and ‘Freak on a Leash’ were the final songs of the evening leaving everyone in the venue wanting more.
KoRn may have changed sounds but they have shown they are not afraid to take leaps in faith in where they want to take their music. Judging by fan reaction throughout the night, I believe they are ready for what the next 20 years has in store.
ARE YOU READY?