There was always something about attending a show at a large arena that got my adrenaline pumping. Perhaps it was the anticipation of the lights going down and the sound coming up. Maybe it was the feeling of being surrounded by people who felt the same connection through the music. Maybe it was the afterglow of a good, sweaty crowd, and the ride home with your ears ringing, and the flyers on the floorboards and the exhausted, yet still excited recap of the evenings highlights. All I can say is that last night was no disappointment to my affections for those big, produced shows.
Staind was a surprisingly forceful presence. I had my doubts because, after having the CD as long as I have (almost two years now), and knowing that Staind’s material is so slow and brooding; I thought that the bill might have included a more ‘upbeat’, and even a newer warm up band. However, I was wrong because Staind was 100% right on.
The crowd anticipated the band taking the stage and it was apparent from the appreciative screams and chants from the fans. The band wasted no time in getting the audience into the chokehold. The band was amazingly precise, and the lighting was gorgeous. Staind was awesome, and although they didn’t knock us all on our asses; they did a perfect job of gently warming the crowd to a slow, rolling simmer.
The highpoints in Staind’s set had to have been ‘Just Go‘, ‘Crawl‘ and ‘Suffocate‘. The only part that could have topped those had to have been the ending track, ‘Mudshovel‘, in which Aaron magically appeared at the end of a long corridor that was fashioned catwalk-style, allowing him to join the mobs of people on the floor before the huge stage on a raised platform. Hovering over a feverish crowd of extended arms and raised fists, Aaron performed the entire song inviting the audience to help him. Thus, the Staind connection was made.
During the time the stage preparations were being made for Korn to perform, the audience indulged in the ‘Sick and Twisted‘ animations on a large overhead screen. There were the usual uproars and cheers for the grossest parts. ‘Sick and Twisted’ is always good for a few laughs, and after all, this was the ‘Sick & Twisted Tour’. Finally, after a few increasingly loud Cypress Hill songs over the sound system, Korn was ready for their homecoming party.
The huge, billowing black curtains parted and revealed the five members on a futuristic, circular stage surrounded by iron flash pots filled with flames, there were lucky audience members on either side of the stage set, and a huge video screen behind the drum riser that resembled a monstrous atrium-style corridor with an ominous black, dead tree at the end. Jon Davis, attired in a very gothic-looking robe, similar to a priests robe mixed with the style of a graduation gown, slammed into the opener, ‘Falling Away From Me‘ and it was full speed ahead from there with no end in sight. Four or Five songs into the set and barely any breathing space taken, I kept asking myself how much more this band could do before they collapsed. The crowd was louder than I think I have ever heard and this band was not about to let that constant eardrum-shattering scream die down; and they didn’t.
I don’t make it a practice to completely give away the set lists, because I believe that element of surprise is part of the fun of seeing a show; but let’s just say that Korn indulged everyone with plenty of the old school stuff we love, and just a taste or two of the new songs that have brought them to the status they are enjoying now. Some of the tracks included were; ‘Ball Tongue’, ‘Got The Life’, ‘A.D.I.D.A.S’, ‘Dead Bodies Everywhere’, ‘Good God’, ‘Faget’, ‘Trash’, and ‘For You‘, which is my personal favorite from Korn’s latest release, ‘Issues‘ (Epic/Immortal).
There were plenty of surprises for the Anaheim crowd, including ‘impromptu’ appearances by some special guests backstage that we were allowed to see via the video screens on either side of the massive stage set. Apparently, during a very brief intermission, Fieldy was backstage with Adam Corolla, Mark Wahlberg and (God, I hate to mention his name) Fred Durst, among others. (Yes, my eyes just rolled with disgust.) Of course, Durst had to mention the name of his band three or four times with his big face in the camera, and as I looked around to see the audience reaction; I was pleased to find the sold-out crowd enthusiastically joining me in flipping off the screen. The backstage antics included smoking a joint and then returning us to our regularly schedule chaos.
Seeing Korn was an amazing experience. The performance was non-stop power, and anyone who thinks Jon Davis can’t pull it off vocally in a live setting has another thing coming to them. The members of Korn have obviously been working their asses off to get where they are now. The way they worked the ocean of fans that filled Arrowhead Pond into a whirlpool of fanatical mayhem was proof of their efforts. Korn have gone from playing dive clubs in Orange County to becoming one of the most well recognized bands in heavy music today. They deserve this. I’m happy for them. This was time well spent. See them if you can, as soon as you can.
Extra special thanks from myself and from Brian May go out to Kristine Ashton for making it possible for us to see one of the coolest shows of the year.