Live Review: Korn, Sluggo, J Devil — Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH
Mon, 18 Jun 2012 07:22:28
Posters adorn the walls of the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire. Emblazoned on these large placards are the dates that the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Jethro Tull, Janis Joplin, and Louis Armstrong all performed on the venue's hallowed stage. They need to make room for another one though…
On Saturday, Korn simply decimated that very stage in front of a sold out crowd spanning rabid fans from all around New England. Touting the right mix of deadly dubstep infused in their patent heavy groove, it was an intense, invigorating, and inimitable display from the most innovative group in modern hard rock. Commencing in unpredictable fashion, Korn launched into a thrashed-out, visceral "Divine" from their classic debut.
James "Munky" Shaffer ripped through the track's polyrhythmic riff with perfect precision as Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu's signature bass lines warped funk to his own whim. Ray Luzier added tight percussive prowess and unmatched speed to the classic. At the center, Jonathan Davis elegantly morphed from a hypnotically harsh verse into the song's cathartic wail, "Fuck you! I'm fed up with you. I'm not as good as you, fuck no, I'm better than you!" The mosh pit erupted and didn't stop for the next 90 minutes.
"Predictable" adopted an heavier stomp punctuated by Luzier's double bass. Fieldy lit up the intro to "No Place to Hide" from Life is Peachy with wobbling, danceable syncopation. As the musical psychosis of the track subsided, the band jammed through "Porno Creep". Shaffer shined with a jazz-y lead through the funk-i-fied bounce, illuminating another facet of the masterful guitarist. "Good God" practically shook the venue off its stilts and into the ocean as the entire room bounced in unison.
"That was for all the old school Korn fans in the house," Davis smiled.
Next, they rolled right into five new classics from their groundbreaking, The Path of Totality. Keyboardist Zac Baird opened up the tracks with his all-encompassing soundscapes. Baird created atmospheres on each tune that allowed the audience to fall right in to the band's dark grip much like Nine Inch Nails or Pink Floyd. His playing remains simply mind-blowing. Meanwhile, Wes Geer proved to be the perfect counterpart to Shaffer. As a guitarist, he's impressively diverse, seguing from industrial grinding to metallic warfare to funk. He's an impressive axe-wielder in his own right and also expands the sound.
"Narcissistic Cannibal" had real teeth live as Shaffer dropped an airy lead on the bridge giving the electro-heavy tune an organic edge. "Kill Mercy Within" saw Davis flawlessly reach operatic heights with captivating theatricality, while "Way Too Far" rose to the heavens on the singer's incredible delivery. "Chaos Lives in Everything" combined his old school schizophrenic stylings with a stadium-size 21st century dubstep refrain. "Get Up!" felt like "Blind 2012" the fans went so berserk…
In many ways, the chemistry between Shaffer and Davis bubbles up as more explosive and entrancing than ever, especially on the new material. They're like the Facebook generation's answer to Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, but they've got their own thing that is simply and unequivocally Korn.
"Here to Stay", "Freak on a Leash", and "Falling Away From Me" stood emblematic of the band's knack for an infectious hook. Their cover of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Parts 1, 2, 3" took the crowd on a ride. Korn made it their own with Davis's howl lifting off to outer space and Shaffer's fret-burning solo. The guitarist practically set his guitar on fire with such passion.
After the double beatdown of "Shoots and Ladders" and Metallica's "One", Davis announced, "These songs are about truth and people's freedoms getting taken away. I've been traveling around the world visiting the Wounded Warriors."
Then, he asked for all active and military vets to raise their hands so everyone could "make some noise for these fucking heroes."
A chant of "USA" broke out, and it was truly moving. Davis added, "If it wasn't for you people, we would not 'Got the Life'."
The band slid right into the Follow the Leader hit and then a raucous "Blind".
However, the entire night proved to be just as amazing as Korn's rapturous set. Just before the headliner, Sluggo simply rocked the house with his unique blend of metal and dubstep. The DJ stalked the stage, bringing the energy up as he fused cuts from Deftones, Dr. Dre, Lamb of God, and Asking Alexandria with his own brand of dubstep. Sluggo utilizes the initial intensity from these tracks and then infects it with his own dub-ed out production. He's truly one of the most fascinating and phenomenal EDM artists out there, and he belongs at the top of the scene.
Kicking off the festivities, Davis assumed the role his alter ego J Devil. With a black grill in, black contacts in, priest collar on, and Monster Energy wristband on, he remained Satan's favorite DJ and EDM's ultimate villain. After an ominous intro, he stood at a podium like a preacher engaging inverted choral chants over goth-y, Bauhaus-style textures and dubstep flourishes unlike anything out there. Heavy guitars rumbled as he screamed, "Let's fuck it up", and the fans fell under his spell bouncing along.
He introduced the project stating, "I'm here to fuck up your head. I know this shit might be different for you, but I'm having fun".
Everyone else had the time of their lives in "J Devil's house" dancing and writhing in Hell's hottest club. He sang his first single from his forthcoming Dim Mak Records EP, "Spike In My Veins". It towed the line between invasive industrial, modern electro, and heavy metal, generating a new genre altogether—especially with Davis's "divine" delivery. It's another gem from the singer.
"I'll Fuck It" from his Killbot project had everyone singing along as he prefaced the sliding and staggering guitar and bass rocker by saying, "I want you to know what J Devil's all about. I'm all about indulgence. Do whatever the fuck you want, just don't hurt anybody."
He ignited another track featuring an impressive vocal cameo from his son Zeppelin Davis, bringing dad and son together just in time for Father's Day. Ultimately, The Path of Totality tour is just as revolutionary as the album with which it shares its name, and that's one of a thousand reasons why Korn needed to be up there alongside Led Zeppelin and The Doors on the Hampton Beach wall…
Were you there?
Do you think Korn should have their name on that wall at Hampton Beach? Say so in the comments!
See our most recent exclusive interview with Jonathan Davis here!