Korn sounded vital as ever at T-Mobile Center
The California nu-metal band amassed its fanbase of freaks on Saturday night
Korn is a band that, despite more than its fair share of hardships, has stood the test of time.
Since their 1994 self-titled debut, the California nu-metal pioneers have garnered both acclaim and contempt from music fans and critics alike, but have maintained one of rock’s most loyal fanbases.
Like many touring acts, the band was forced to cancel concerts during the pandemic.
Singer Jonathan Davis suffered a rough infection last year and was required, at some points, to use an oxygen tank. It was clear he was excited about his return while pounding his chest and proclaiming, “It feels fuckin’ good, y’all.”
The T-Mobile Center’s upper balcony seats had been closed off, and there was little room left in the lower bowl and floor areas when Korn took the stage around 9:30 P.M. on Saturday.
As a curtain dropped with a projection of Korn’s iconic logo, the band emerged, dressed in black, and with Davis in a multi-layered cloak. Guitarists Head and Munky wasted no time sending their dreadlocks spinning as they headbanged to the set’s opener, “Forgotten,” which is the intro track on the band’s new album Requiem.
Founding bassist Fieldy is not present on the tour as he is taking a break for mental health purposes. His touring replacement—Ra Díaz of Suicidal Tendencies—had no issue mimicking his masterful fingerstyle playing.
Korn performed four songs from Requiem during their 80 minutes on stage. The songs blended with ease while drawing from the style, strength, and energy of the band’s first four albums without sounding redundant.
Davis’ lyricism on the new release also mirrors themes from earlier work. The deeply introspective nature of his songwriting has always set the group apart from other bands of the era.
“Start the Healing” was a compelling moment early in the set. Davis has been open about his ongoing struggles with sobriety on top of family trauma and grief. Though frustrating, these demons could very well be a factor in what has made the band’s new music so vital.
While dark in nature, the suggestion of a brighter future is present in the song’s title as well as in the resolution of a later number, “Worst is on the Way,” which ends with the line: “My confidence overrides.”
Davis did indeed perform with overwhelming confidence. He moved slowly across the stage but projected with power, knowing no physical antics would be necessary.
Most of Korn’s performance was as thoughtful and dynamic as a metal show can be, but a couple of moments saw the band going a bit overboard.
Davis’ bagpipe intro to the classic “Shoots and Ladders” was impressive as ever, but the song’s incorporation of multiple nursery rhymes (performed in hip-hop fashion)—and a random snippet of Metallica’s “One”—felt like overkill.
Similarly, the band’s encore included “Clown,” which already featured rap parts and instrumental solos, but an a cappella moment from Davis made it feel far too busy. An encore should be treated as a bonus, but nothing from the band’s five-song continuation topped anything in the main set.
But nothing can beat songs like “Coming Undone,” “Falling Away From Me,” and “Freak on a Leash”—three of the Korn’s biggest hits and live staples performed with as much gusto as one could hope.
“Coming Undone” featured a clap-along that momentarily broke off into a “We Will Rock You” sing-along orchestrated by the band. “Falling Away From Me,” though similar to “Freak on a Leash,” contained a ruinous breakdown near its conclusion.
“Freak on a Leash,” is something of a cultural phenomenon due to its sheer heaviness and Davis’ extended scat part. Any song that can create a mosh pit in a sterile corporate-run arena should be seen as culturally relevant.
Supporting acts Chevelle and Code Orange
Illinois band Chevelle produced a 55-minute set honoring the band’s lifespan. Aside from angsty rock hits like “The Red” and “Send The Pain Below, they demonstrated a catalog that sounds like the b-sides your favorite hard rock and alternative metal bands never wrote.
Though all three members of the band are technically skilled and somewhat entertaining to watch, not much makes up for the content itself or Loeffler’s shaky singing abilities.
The arena wasn’t yet full as Pittsburgh metalcore outfit Code Orange took the stage at 6:40 p.m. The band didn’t waste any of the allotted 35 minutes and introduced new fans to their recent polarizing single, “Out For Blood,” before launching into songs from previous LPs.
Formed in 2008 while the members were still in high school, Code Orange made a name through years of DIY touring, which included stops at a punk house on Troost and the former Art Closet Studios in Westport. They eventually signed to Roadrunner Records and released their album Forever in 2017.
The title track came second in the setlist with its monstrous instrumentation. It’s a sublime tell-off to DIY scenesters who love to hate the band for their ambition and theatrics, which they are now finally able to achieve at a larger scale.
Other highlights included the title track to their 2020 album Underneath on which guitarist Reba Meyers sings the lead and could be seen violently thrusting her arms between lines to hype up the audience.
Fans could be seen moshing during “Cold.Metal.Place”—a rare feat for such an early timeslot. Vocalist Jami Morgan headbanged to the point of slapping the stage with his hand during “In Fear.”
As Code Orange’s set came to an end with the calamitous “Swallowing the Rabbit Whole,” each member slumped over in place as Morgan stated in Arnold fashion, “We will be back,” while dropping his mic and exiting without looking back.