Getting Nocturnal with Korn

By on October 19, 2016



Jonathan Davis-Korn (Photo-Travis Failey)

Korn, Breaking Benjamin, Motionless In White. Nocturnal Underground Tour at the Mid Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre.

It’s 22 years ago and the grunge scene has taken hold of radio stations and fashion across the country. Bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden are no longer just a staple in the Great North West but also from coast to coast. The decline of the hair band saturation by the record companies has been completed and even the best of this breed would struggle mightily.


Brian “Head” Welch-Korn (Photo-Travis Failey)

Thrash metal was still alive and well as Slayer led the way with the release of Divine Intervention and Pantera was at their peak with Far Beyond Driven. There was a huge disconnect between the two genres as one donned short hair,  flannel shirts and baggy jeans while the others were still sporting long hair, jean jackets and black t-shirts.


Benjamin Burnley-Breaking Benjamin (Photo-Travis Failey)

While the music snobs stuck to their own styles, which they tend to do, a new sound was born in California, that was soon dubbed “Nu-Metal.” The band Korn, with their roots in Bakerfield, California now replanted in Huntington Beach, had grown a local following due to their distinct sound that mixed the drop-tuning of  guitars with elements of rap and metal and the unfamiliar addition of a set of bag-pipes.


Jonathan Davis-Korn (Photo-Travis Failey)

Tour invitations soon followed after their release on their 1994 self-titled debut. Opening slots for veteran acts like Ozzy Osbourne and Megadeth provided them seasoning with a memorable headlining tour and a stop at Janus Landing in Saint Petersburg to follow soon after.


Ray Luzier-Korn (Photo-Travis Failey)

As a 25-year-old who witnessed the many transitions that music had made through the late 70s through the early 90s, watching Korn in the early part of their career always led me to question one thing:  Would Jonathan Davis have longevity in this business due to his vocal style? There was only one other voice that I also wondered about, and that was Phil Anselmo of Pantera.  Could these two vocalists sustain their vocal style and the damage that they seemed to be doing to their throats long term??


Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu (Photo-Travis Failey)

Well, fast forward twenty-two years to 2016. Korn has now sold over 35 million albums, released forty-one singles, with twenty-eight of them charting.  Korn’s sound and style has influenced several successful bands, like Linkin Park, Kid Rock, Otep and Slipknot.


Brian “Head” Welch- Korn (Photo-Travis Failey)

Touring in support of their 12th studio release, The Serenity of Suffering, Korn brought their Nocturnal Underground Tour to the Mid Florida Credit Union Amphitheater Tuesday night. Breaking Benjamin received the co-headlining nod with Motionless in White, and The Silver Snakes receiving the opening slots.


(Photo-Travis Failey)

Tuesday night was a beautiful night in Tampa for a show.  After a long, brutally hot concert season in Florida, it was awesome to have temperatures in the 70’s with a killer breeze blowing through the venue. Korn broke out with a single from their Take a Look in the Mirror release, “Right Now,” then kept the energy flowing with “Here to Stay.” Korn paid homage to their early music, playing “Somebody Someone,” “Make Me Bad,” “Twist,” and  busted out the bagpipes for “Shoots and Ladders.”  Korn even performed a portion of Metallica’s “One.”  It was pretty amusing to see the smiles on the paramedics and police officer’s faces as Jonathan would ask, “Y’All Want a Single, ” and the crowd screamed “Say Fu#K that Fu#k that!”


Jonathan Davis-Korn (Photo-Travis Failey)

Sporting his signature dreadlocks, black kilt and black socks, Jonathan Davis didn’t miss a beat and it’s hard to believe that he is forty-five.  And to answer my own question, Jonathan’s voice has stood the test of time, and he belted out “Blind” as if it were 1995. I have seen Korn no less than 10 times, and Tuesday’s performance was definitely in my top two Korn shows. The abundance of energy by all the guys and the enjoyment of the moment was evident due to the smiles on their faces, especially Davis. Davis looked like a proud papa as he announced that they were celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the Life is Peachy release.


James “Munky” Shaffer-Korn (Photo-Travis Failey)

The stage lights were bright with limited smoke, which was also a rarity. On previous tours, the lighting was much darker and seeing the guys faces was difficult as the stage was engulfed with smoke from the fog machines. Videos rolled on the screen behind the stage and lasers were aplenty.

Guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer, Brian “Head” Welch, and bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, did a great job engaging the crowd by coming right up on the edge of the stage as they played, with only the photo pit separating them from the crowd. Percussionist Ray Luzier is not only a great drummer, but also a master showman behind the skins with his stick flips and throws, even his vibrant kit draws you into his memorizing performance.


Ray Luzier-Korn (Photo-Travis Failey)

The one take way from their performance was that it looked to me that Korn was genuinely enjoying themselves on stage. Has there been tours where it looked they were going through the motions, yes, in some fans opinions, but this tour certainly wasn’t one of them.


Benjamin Burnley-Breaking Benjamin (Photo-Travis Failey)

Prior to Korn taking the stage, Breaking Benjamin, the co-headliner, performed a 15 song set which included a four song medley of “The Imperial March,” “Schism,”” Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and concluded with “Walk,” from Pantera.  They also brought out Chris Motionless from Motionless in White to sing “Polyamorous.” The set was filled with their radio hits as the fans in the stands joined Burnley in singing “So Cold,” “Failure,” “Angels Fall,” and particularly, “I Will Not Bow.”


They were fairly sedate in their movements on stage, except for when bassist Aaron Bruch or guitarist Keith Wallen took on the role of lead singer and went to the top of the stage riser to play the role of frontman during “Sooner than Later,” and “Believe.” They also did a tribute song to Korn by performing a large portion of “Ball Tongue.” It got the crowd going but it seemed like a faux pas to me.


Shaun Foist-Breaking Benjamin (Photo-Travis Failey)

Founder and the only original member remaining, Benjamin Burnley’s vocals cut through the night sky and it is apparent why Breaking Benjamin was the co-headliner: they can put fans in the seats. Their popularity and album sales in the United States is through the roof as their recent release, Dark Before Dawn reached No. 1 on the rock albums chart on iTunes and No. 3 on the overall album chart. It sold 135,000 album units in its first week, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 With Sirius/Xm Octane in their corner, their lead single “Failure” was number 1 for nine weeks on the Mainstream Rock charts.


Benjamin Burnley-Breaking Benjamin (Photo-Travis Failey)

Was I impressed with Breaking Benjamin? Not really, there are many bands out there with a similar style and sound. Are they good at what they do? Yes, but as their set continued for easily over an hour, people were clamoring for them to finish so Korn could finally take the stage.


Chris Motionless-Motionless In White (Photo-Travis Failey)

Prior to Korn and Breaking Benjamin, one of the coolest guys in metal, Chris Motionless, with Motionless in White brought their own version of “horror metal” to the Nocturnal Underground Tour at the Amphitheatre and just crushed it.


Devon “Ghost” Sola- Motionless In White (Photo-Travis Failey)

We’ve been following this band since their early days on the Warped Tour and both their progression and fan base have grown exponentially. Devin “Ghost” Sola is not only a solid bass player but his stage wardrobe changes from tour to tour. Maybe it’s a hockey jersey and face paint, or a prison-cell-type cage on his head, or maybe something totally different as it was tonight. It’s hard to describe what he was wearing, but take a look at the pics and let your imagination run wild.


Chris Motionless-Motionless In White (Photo-Travis Failey)

Chris Motionless donned a Ryan Callahan Tampa Bay Lightning jersey and you might think that he was just pandering to the home crowd but he has been and continues to be a die-hard Lightning fan. After concluding their set of Octane and Liquid Metal hits that included “Reincarnate,” and the anthem “A.M.E.R.I.C.A.,” Motionless pounded his chest and yelled in the mic, “Go Bolts.”


Ryan Sitkowski-Motionless In White (Photo-Travis Failey)

Check these guys out when they come to your town, even if they are not your cup of metal, their stage show and performance are worth the price of admission.


Devin “Ghost” Sola- Motionless In White (Photo-Travis Failey)

The Nocturnal Underground Tour provided hard rock and metal fans a variety of bands at different stages of their careers: Korn being the seasoned veterans that pay homage to their old school fans, while winning over a new generation of fans, Breaking Benjamin as a mellower, single driven counterpart, and Motionless in White as a band who has a bright future in their own hands.


Vinny Mauro-Motionless In White (Photo-Travis Failey)

Will Motionless in White achieve the success as the two co-headliners? Only time will tell, but from the crowd response and their charismatic frontman, they have a legitimate shot to one-day headline tour like this.

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