Live Review: Korn — The Verizon Wireless Theater, Houston, TX
Tue, 01 Jun 2010 06:49:59
There are concerts and then there are Korn concerts.
Throughout the years, the band has perfected a musical exorcism like no other. Since 1993, every night Korn has hit the stage, they've summoned all kinds of demons through the most jarring and devilishly catchy brand of heavy music ever committed to tape. Over the years, they've gotten even better at it, and Sunday night at the Verizon Wireless Theater in Houston served as proof that Korn is still one of the greatest hard rock bands in history. In fact, they're even more calculatedly cathartic than they were when their classic self-titled debut effectively tore pop culture to pieces in 1994.
After the uneasy rumbling murmur of "4U" from Issues, guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer churned out the eerily evil intro of "Dead Bodies Everywhere." With a dapper white jacket and stripe painted over his eyes Blade Runner-style, Shaffer stood as the vision of what a 21st century guitar god should be. His playing remained otherworldly as his guitar became something of an orchestra unto itself. He steamrolled through the pummelingly infectious chorus riff, before slinking right back into a strangely symphonic lead of sorts. If the Facebook generation had a Jimmy Page—a player that knows every facet of his instrument while bending it into realms uncharted by other artists—it'd be Shaffer. That was all on the band's opening track no less.
Donning a classic Adidas track suit, vocalist Jonathan Davis effectively brought fans back to the days when Korn started playing small theaters on Life Is Peachy, perfectly succeeding with the Ball Room Blitz's tour's whole "no chairs allowed" mantra. The set list backed that up even more though. Right after Davis finished screaming out his soul on the final crescendo of "Dead Bodies Everywhere," the band launched into "Need To." This Korn classic has never sounded this cathartically brutal, as Davis pristinely carried the volatile verse right into the violently vulnerable chorus. Shaffer picked fast on the breakdown conjuring a torrent of emotions with his pick that mirrored Davis's raw rage in uncanny fashion. If Shaffer's like this day's Page, then Davis has the kind of mystique and vocal power to be like Plant.
"Coming Undone" gave way to a vicious cover of Queen's "We will Rock You." Shaffer lied down on the amp, cranking another lead line out with panache and primal power. "Here to Stay" kicked off with one of the most propulsive riffs of the band's career as drummer Ray Luzier flipped his sticks and drummed with a maniacal intensity and precision that few in the game can match. Ray pounded out the grooves with style, but he also added a progressive flare that takes Korn's already otherworldly sound to new dimensions. "Falling Away From Me" began with a gorgeously somber keyboard intro by Zac Baird before exploding into the hellish feedback swell that made the track classic.
Davis introduced new single, "Oildale (Leave Me Alone)," saying, "This song's about the place we grew up." Fans' first taste of Korn III — Remember Who You Are proved to be every bit as vibrantly violent as the band's most celebrated fare, and it fit right alongside the classics, showing that Korn haven't missed a step in over 16 years. After "Somebody Someone," Luzier marveled with a mindblowing drum solo as Shaffer proceeded to tear through a lead with his guitar behind his head. If you didn't believe Korn were the ultimate modern rock band before, you will now after seeing them on this run or on Mayhem this summer. "Throw Me Away" and "Did My Time" ignited massive sing-a-longs, while "Helmut In the Bush" took fans back to the beginning and kept everyone grinning.
Fieldy treated the audience to a funkadelic bass solo that'd make Les Claypool look twice as he slapped out a funky heavy rock all his own. Shane Gibson matched it all with his guitar parts buttressing up the chaos. "Freak On A Leash" kept the crowd singing before "Blind" morphed into all-out metal warfare and a massive circle pit erupted.
A triple salvo of "Shoots and Ladders," "Clown" and "Got the Life" provided the perfect ending to Ballroom Blitz. The demons are loose, and Korn are about to change rock music, again.
Have you seen Korn on Ballroom Blitz yet? Are you excited for their new album?
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