Reviews

Korn: 24 February 2012 - Chicago

Selena Fragassi

Korn gives an earful on The Path of Totality in Chicago.

Korn

Korn

City: Chicago
Venue: The Congress Theatre
Date: 2012-02-24

When Korn’s newest single “Get Up!” started landing on radio airwaves in mid-2011, it produced a love/hate reaction not seen since the Bakersfield band’s early days when it ushered in the oft nay-sayed nu metal genre that shocked many by finding critical mass in the '90s and early aughts. Metal purists chided the single on first listen and dance aficionados were left to wonder why co-producer and noted trailblazer Skrillex would make a questionable move so early in his career as to work with a band seemingly on the other side of the musical sound wave. Yet the current round of bipartisan attention worked out favorably by bringing the band back to the foreground nearly twenty years into its career.

“Get Up!” is featured on Korn’s tenth studio album The Path of Totality (only the second release on liberal label Roadrunner Records), which forged a new path for the alt metal troupe by incorporating deep cuts of dub step and more drum and bass virility than even all the previous power chords and drum drill bits offered in their aggro repertoire. Much in the way Korn stylized their early rap rock anthology, the bulk of The Path of Totality is driven by a new co-genre of doom dub with contributions from the edgier few who make up the billowing techno scene (so no Paul Oakenfold here). Examples include Datsik, Excision, Noisia, and Kill the Noise, the latter of who garnered an opening slot on the album’s promotional tour, which brought itself to Chicago’s Congress Theatre in late February.

If Korn couldn’t please everyone with the record, the band made every possible attempt to go above and beyond in their attempts to overwhelm the capacity crowd at the Congress Theatre (one of a limited run of dates on the second leg of their North American tour before bearing down on Europe).

The night encompassed four distinct acts: oldies and rarities, new material (mostly from Totality), proven hits (including a cover of Pink Floyd), and of course an encore of arguably their most distinct numbers (“Shoots and Ladders”… with bagpipes, “Got the Life”, and “Blind”). The sixteen songs were broken up into distinct modules offering a chronological trip calmed only by interludes of video footage from recent performances and the fan favorite biographical video Who Then Now? filmed during the band’s formative years of 1994-1997. Featured in the archival footage was long-gone but long-time members Brian “Head” Welch and drummer David Silveria. Welch was never replaced (except in studio sessions) while Silveria’s departure was picked up by former Army of Anyone member Ray Luzier who (as much as Skrillex) has revived Korn and provided a spinal fusion of brutal force the band needed to stand up straight in its ripe age.

Singer Jonathan Davis was not one to posture, either in attitude or literal gait as he lumbered around the stage lightheartedly skipping, bowing into visceral growls, and revolving around the whipping post of his famous Alien-esque mic stand. His rail-thin stature was outmatched by his boisterous voice that was as metallic as it was meteoric, telling stories of torture and self-loathing in earlier numbers (“No Place to Hide”) and blatant ego in later tracks (“Narcissistic Cannibal”).

The stage was a sea of flying dreadlocks as front runners Davis, guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer, and bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu bore matching hairstyles and marathon movements that volleyed around the forest of amplification from the too-many-to-count speaker setup onstage.

True, Korn has never been shy, but the power of this performance was enigmatically dictatorial as Arvizu’s ribcage-shaking bass lines (delivered from a glow-in-the-dark neon fret board) and Davis’ crashing croon made the audience pull themselves up by the bootstraps after being blown to timid wallflowers by the cannons of blitzkrieged orchestration.

If the sheer noise seemed child’s play to anyone (doubtful) then the massive 4 x 4 vertical to horizontal towers of video feed that dazzled with strobe explosions and Lichtenstein palettes of color were the second siege. Was it a distraction from a deliberate attempt to attract a multi-generational fan base? Maybe. Or maybe it was just part of the massive production that Korn has become.

By the time “Blind” brought the show’s end and the Congress’ upper tiers felt like they would cave in from the exacerbated crowd, it was clear the early hit was what the majority preferred; yet the number of younger bodies who built a pit during “Get Up!” and kept it fired up until the curtain call proved that Korn’s latest sound experiment is not only viable, it’s also relevant.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image