Adults of the Korn

By on October 19, 2015

 

KRN Fieldy Arvizu

Fieldy-Korn (Photo Will Ogburn)

I love going to themed shows – shows motivated by anything other than “Come check out our new Album!” Korn came to Orlando’s Hard Rock on Thursday with a mission: to reward their day one fans by playing their debut album, Korn, in its entirety. This tour was a special one for Korn – a chance to let older fans indulge their nostalgia, while letting newer fans know where they started.

To give some context, the self-titled album was released less than a month after I was born (October 11, 1994). When I pointed this out to a few fans in the crowd, their jaws dropped at the thought that it had been that long since high school – when they used to blast the Korn cassette tape out of their windows on the way to class.

Some of Korns fans were also there to see Suicide Silence, a usual headliner that took a back seat to the vets on this one. To top it off, they added Islander as an opener, one of the few new faces in the nu metal genre. The movement has been growing dimmer since the days where bands like Korn, Slipknot, and Linkin Park ruled the airwaves.

 

Islander

J.R. Bareis - ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

J.R. Bareis – ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

Islander is an up-and coming band from South Carolina that know their way around Florida – playing Welcome to Rockville in Jax and visiting Orlando earlier this year while on tour with Papa Roach. They seem to be making a run at the nu metal throne, which is soon to be passed down from older bands like Korn and Disturbed.

Mikey Carvajal - ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

Mikey Carvajal – ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

Islander sauntered onto the stage looking like a reggae band, bathed in green and red light. They looked like a typical band of the genre, grungy clothing and dreads – until I noticed that guitarist J.R. Bareis had a costume dinosaur tail on. Then I knew these guys were wild.

Ryan Pei - ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

Ryan Pei – ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

They opened with “Cold Speak”, a lively, distorted track with a fun chorus. They danced around, waving their hands (and tail) along with the continual ups and downs of the song. This track was the final single released off of their lone studio album, Violence & Destruction.

Mikey Carvajal - ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

Mikey Carvajal – ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

Next up came the angrier and more rebellious “Counteract”. This song sounds like a raspier take on something influenced by Rage Against the Machine. The violent lyrics spoken with heavy distortion made this a great song for moshing. And when frontman Mikey Carvajal jumped into the crowd, the rules and regs of the Hard Rock be damned, there was gonna be moshing.

J.R. Bareis - ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

J.R. Bareis – ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

“New Wave” is Islander’s highest charting single off of their album, peaking at 22 on the Mainstream Rock charts. Though I’m sure the dreadheads wouldn’t be happy with the tag “mainstream”, I would bet they don’t mind the success it has given them either.

J.R. Bareis - ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

J.R. Bareis – ISLANDER (photo Will Ogburn)

Islander’s quick eight song setlist was anchored by “Coconut Dracula”, their first ever single, and one that the crowd knew best. The more reflective and mellow song focuses on a drive for perfection, with a chorus of “I wanna be someone more like you”. At the guidance of Carvajal, the crowed echoed the words back to the boys onstage. By combining soft and heavy, the song gives people at different ends of the rock spectrum to appreciate it.

Overall: Islander was a solid opener, and the band has a bright future. They’ve recently overhauled their lineup, and at times seemed a little out of sorts. Hopefully they will find stability in the coming months, and continue to put out good music following their first album’s success.

Suicide Silence

Chris Garza - SUICICDE SILENCE (photo Will Ogburn)

Chris Garza – SUICICDE SILENCE (photo Will Ogburn)

As a show, I was underwhelmed with Suicide Silence, but they do have a great story behind them. In the wake of their lead singer Mitch Lucker’s death back in 2012, the band and their fans went into a state of shock. They canceled their gigs, and went through the process of deciding whether to continue at all. The remaining band mates put on a charity concert to cover Mitch’s daughter Kenadee’s education, furthering fans’ interest and hope that they would continue on.

Eddie Hermida - SUICIDE SILENCE (photo Will Ogburn)

Eddie Hermida – SUICIDE SILENCE (photo Will Ogburn)

They did reemerge – this time with friend and former vocalist of All Shall Perish, Eddie Hermida. The band put out their first album with Eddie in 2014, and the charts showed that rock fans were glad to have them back. You Can’t Stop Me has been their most successful release to date, peaking at #2 on the hard rock charts.

Suicide Silence Eddie Hermida Fan (photo Will Ogburn)

Suicide Silence Eddie Hermida Fan (photo Will Ogburn)

These fans were packed in tight as Hermida and company ran out onto the stage, bouncing toward the risers. Their intro track was their biggest hit, “You Only Live Once”. Fans went crazy for the whole song as Eddie nailed the screamy tones of Mitch’s masterpiece of deathcore. Like many of their tracks, the song centers around death and violence.

 

 

“Inherit the Crown” was next; the heavy and surprisingly catchy track ripped through the night air with “I’LL WEAR THE MASK IF I HAVE TOOO”. Both guitarist Mark Heylmun and bassist Danny Kenny stood to Eddie’s right and swung their hair back and forth like tornadoes of metal. A huge strength of this band is their trio on the strings. When Kenny and Heylmun combined with rhythm guitarist Chris Garza, they are a sight to behold – their hands all flying up and down the necks of their respective axes.

SUICIDE SILENCE (photo Will Ogburn)

SUICIDE SILENCE (photo Will Ogburn)

Where they lost me was on the third track, “Wake Up”. I’m all about hardcore/deathcore music, but starting with this track and continuing down the list everything seemed to muddle together. With a heavy amount of distortion, the vocals overloaded the speakers and made it impossible to hear anything but noise.

This continued with the lone exception of “You Can’t Stop Me”, the title track of their album with Eddie. This song is heavy on the shredding, while keeping it balanced with vocal elements and insane drum licks by Alex Lopez. The rhythmic chugging of this song (and all SS songs) makes it easy to headbang or mosh on beat to.

Overall: Suicide Silence started off strong but faded after the first two, becoming a blur of mumbled lyrics and heavy guitar riffs. Maybe I’m the wrong guy to review them, because I don’t know what their “good” looks like, but I certainly hope this wasn’t it.

Korn

Munky Shaffer - KORN (photo Will Ogburn)

Munky Shaffer – KORN (photo Will Ogburn)

The feeling in the pit before Korn was electric, like many in the audience had been waiting for this day for years. This kind of show brings an interesting demographic of fans. Some outgrew their 94’ angst to become successful business people, and returned for nostalgia. Some started growing dreads then, and sure as hell haven’t stopped. Some brought their kids and some were college kids that just needed something to do on a Thursday night.

KRN Head Welch 3

Brian “Head” Welch-Korn (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Because many of Korn’s fans have been loyal as long as I’ve been alive, they tend to be of the older variety. That doesn’t mean they don’t know how to rage, giving way to the term Dadmoshing.

Dadmoshingverb: The practice of older gentlemen forming a pit and shoving one another around. Dadmoshing can range from a faint tap, to full on swinging, depending on the intensity of those involved.

DEADMOSHING (photo Will Ogburn)

DADMOSHING (photo Will Ogburn)

The Hard Rock’s stage was dark, with the only light radiating from the bass drum at center stage. The album’s cover art was on the front of the drum, casting an eerie shadow of a girl hanging on the ceiling.

Korn took the stage and the crowd went ballistic; Korn added to this by opening with “Blind”, the biggest single on the album. Granted, they were going in the order of the track listing, but it was still an incredible way to open. “ARRRE YOU READDDY!?” vocalist Jonathan Davis yelled into the mic as the guitar kicked in. Dreads flew in every direction as Korn brought the Hard Rock to life.

KRN Fieldy Arvizu

Fieldy-Korn (Photo Will Ogburn)

In the middle of the Dadmosh, I spotted a familiar face. He calls himself The Midnight Mosher; if you go to rock shows around Orlando, you know exactly who I’m talking about. He’s the guy – often covered with sweat – wearing a Nike Pro padded shirt, MMA gloves, and a GoPro mounted on his chest. The presence of The Midnight Mosher means that the show kicks ass. Like the Ghost of Moshing Present, he appears with the party, intent on taking it to the next level.

KRN Jonathan Davis

Johnathan Davis-Korn (Photo-Will Ogburn)

The next highlight came during “Clown”. This song embodies the outcast mentality that Korn has become famous for. In fact, “Clown” is one of the first songs that they recorded and began playing at early shows. The raw, unclean feel of the song oozes emotion – almost real madness. Watching Davis deliver it after all these years was a sight to behold.

KRN Head Welch 1

Brian “Head” Welch-Korn (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Another such song (raw, emotional) is “Faget”. The song goes was back for Davis, who was viciously bullied as a kid. He touches on his own struggle with gender identity, and the taboo’s associated with it. Some of the best qualities of Korn are its course overtones that make it seem like it was recorded in someone’s garage. You can feel the real pain in Davis’s words, and see a group of friends just hanging out and making music. The song ends with the powerful chanting of “All my life, who am I?” that resonated throughout the crowd.

KRN Jonathan Davis 3

Johnathan Davis-Korn (Photo-Will Ogburn)

For those of you that don’t know…Jonathan Davis plays a mean bagpipe. He showed off his talents during “Shoots and Ladders”, a song that opens with a bagpipe solo and incorporates a bunch of nursery rhymes in the angriest/creepiest way imaginable. One of the perks of making a song out of nursery rhymes is that everyone knows them and can sing along. Well played, Korn.

KRN Munky 3

Even after all these years, the band does a great job channeling their past selves. Though they are all surely millionaires, they still appear angsty, possibly homeless, and definitely mentally unstable. Guitarist Brian “Head” Welch looks like a real life voodoo doll, slinging his long blonde dreads from side to side and creating a cyclone with them when he really gets going. Bassist “Fieldy” Arvizu could be a stand in for the Norse god of mischief, Loki; his hair sprouting wildly from the borders of his headband, his looming, wide stance as he sifts back and forth across the stage. Depending on his expression (smile or dead-eye scowl), Co-lead guitarist “Munky” Shaffer could either be the chillest dude in the room, or some kind of a mummy sent forward in time to collect your past-due rent.

KRN Jonathan Davis 2

Johnathan Davis-Korn (Photo-Will Ogburn)

“Predictable” is one of Korn’s earliest releases, predating even the album. In it, you can see Davis’s songwriting in its infant stages. Present are the raspy, multi-level refrains; in this one “I’m gonna tryyyy” was echoed over and over by the crowd. Another future staple would be the loose/rattly drum sounds that David Silveria (93’-06’) would perfect, and Ray Luzier (07’-Pres) would continue.

Korn ended the regulation set just as they had the album, with the horrifying track “Daddy”. The song begins with a monkish chant, which fit well with the sacrificial candles that littered the stage. The darkest track by far in the performance, the song details Davis’s experiences of being raped as a child and not being believed by his parents. Though the lyrics suggest it is his dad that raped him, Davis has gone on record many times saying that it was a family friend, but he felt equally betrayed by his parents after they dismissed his story. At the end, the song deteriorates into an episode of crying and screaming brought on by this incident.

Wow, that was rough. Just…typing that was rough. If you ever want to be uncomfortable and sad for 10 minutes…this is the song for you.

Right then, on to the encore.

After the dim lights and chants of “Korn!” gave way to bright lights and cheering, the

Munky again (photo Will Ogburn)

Munky-Korn (photo Will Ogburn)

friends from Bakersfield returned to the stage. They started off right with “Falling Away from Me”, ironically one of the songs that first got me into Korn. The foreboding guitar notes combined with the frantic vocals give this song a creepy feel that’s hard to replicate. The song captures the feeling of rage and helplessness involved in being abused as a child.

In a time warping juxtaposition, Korn then followed “Here to Stay” with “Spike in my Veins”. The first track represents the midpoint (2002) in Korn’s transition from a raw underground band to a more mainstream, global act that they became in the later 2000’s. “Spike in My Veins” is the opposite, a social commentary from their latest album (2014) in which they use that global reach to call out some of the world’s flaws. The video touches on President Obama and the NSA spying on civilians, Miley Cyrus and Kanye turning celebrity into a goal, and Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s crack scandal. Though many original fans dislike the electronic feel the band has taken of late, it is good that they use their platform to take some kind of social stand.

KRN Jonathan Davis 4

Johnathan Davis-Korn (Photo-Will Ogburn)

The nightcap on this performance 21 years in the making was none other than their biggest hit, “Freak on a Leash”. This track is Korn in a nutshell: structured chaos. The multiple effects and instrumental elements are interlaced tightly with Davis’s emotional vocals. Like many Korn songs there is a point where the structure is abandoned, giving way to some unhinged madness by Davis. In this one, it takes the form of a beatboxing/gibberish mix over a stripped down drum beat. This track was fun because both old a new Korn fans knew it by heart; there’s a special feeling in the air when a band and their crowd are on exactly the same page.

KRN Head Welch

Brian “Head” Welsh (Photo-Will Ogburn)

Overall: Even though this album predates me, I was blown away by its performance live. I couldn’t imagine how lifelong Korn fans felt, not only because of the music, but also because of the good memories that accompanied it. Korn has proven time and again that they are not only great musicians, but also smart businessmen (or at least they picked good management) by their multiple exclusives, collaborations, and special events like this show. Hopefully I’ll get to see one of my childhood favorites do a special show like this when I’m 40, just so I can experience the pure joy I saw in these people’s faces.

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