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  • Live Review: Korn — Smokeout Festival 2012

    Mon, 05 Mar 2012 07:22:18

    Live Review: Korn — Smokeout Festival 2012 - Exclusive live review by ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino...

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    Toward the end of Korn's triumphant headlining set at the 2012 Smokeout Festival, frontman Jonathan Davis exclaimed, "We've been a band for eighteen motherfucking years!"

    Over those years, they've remained one of the most prescient and powerful bands to ever grace a stage. Korn continue to constantly evolve, and Saturday night's show illuminated that progression live and, of course, very loud.

    Most importantly, the quartet is the most bloodthirsty that it's ever been. The chilling first album classic, "Predictable", immediately put the packed crowd into a frenzy. James "Munky" Shaffer began with a twisted and tight riff, simultaneously headbanging as if his life depended on it. Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu slapped out the song's dark groove as Ray Luzier flawlessly pounded out the beat. The band locked into a frenetic thrash stomp, speeding the song up as Davis's perfect delivery and uncontainable catharsis immediately transfixed everyone within view or earshot of the festival.

    "Lies" precisely pummeled as Davis demonically stalked the stage intent on making everyone move with the unsettling catchy refrain. Fieldy toyed with the opening of Primus's "Too Many Puppies" before ripping through a mind-blowing bass run that led right into "No Place to Hide". Shaffer churned out eerie, otherworldly transmissions from his guitar at the end of the song before "Helmet in the Bush". Each element converged during the song for a hellishly hypnotic journey culminating with Davis screaming, "I just want to know why".

    After leaving the festival awestruck with those classics, the group brought their latest masterpiece, The Path of Totality to life. Keyboardist Zac Baird perfectly weaved in electro violence into "Narcissistic Cannibal" while Davis infused every inch of his soul into the track's visceral lyrics. The singer sounded divinely deadly during the hushed break of "Chaos Lives in Everything" as Shaffer elegantly destroyed with a distorted assault. The entire band erected a massive and impenetrable wall of sound during "My Wall". Wes Geer beefed up the sound at all the right moments, proving to be a perfect live counterpart to Shaffer.

    "Get Up!" sounded so heavy it could've caused an earthquake. A flurry of bodies jumped in succession to the song's monstrously catchy chorus. Then came "Way Too Far" which stood out for a few reasons. The song's spacey axe work from Shaffer is utterly revolutionary. Mixing dubstep, industrial, heavy metal, and ethereal rock, he's forging another guitar revolution, and it's immediately evident in the haze of "Way Too Far". The song snaps into a hushed hum from Davis which was invigorating and haunting all at once. It's another perfect example of how viciously versatile Korn are.

    "Here to Stay", "Freak on a Leash", and the band's medley of "Shoots and Ladders" and Metallica's "One" sparked the biggest sing-alongs of the day. Their rendition of "Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 1, 2, 3)" built a bridge between generations. Pink Floyd told a dystopian tale of kids standing up for themselves against a cruel, oppressive society. In a similar fashion, Korn provided a voice to the voiceless youth of 20th and 21st century America. As Davis screamed the refrain and Shaffer artfully and soloed, it was as if everything came full circle. With its mix of dubstep and metal, The Path of Totality is undeniably revolutionary like Floyd's output was.

    "Got the Life" and "Blind" closed everything out, and one thing remained certain. During those 18 years, Korn have rightfully earned their spot alongside Metallica, Pink Floyd, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, and all of the others as one of the greatest bands of all time.

    If The Path of Totality and shows like this are any indication, the next 18 years are going to be even bigger and better for them.

    Rick Florino

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    Tags: Korn, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Primus

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