Korn, Bakersfield’s merchants of cathartic “nu-metal,” marked their multi-platinum 10-year recording career with a celebratory 70-minute Universal show.
Performing on the heels of the release of the its “Greatest Hits Vol. 1” (Epic/Immortal) collection, the quintet eschewed the doom-and-gloom attitude of many of its previous local shows, and instead reinforced the top aspects of its music with a stirring, almost joyful “best-of” effort.
With lucky fan club members dancing and screaming inside two levels of cages onstage behind the band, Korn offered a no-frills 14-song selection of their finest, from the raw rage of 1994 entries “Blind” and “Fagget” (during the encore), to their new versions of classic Cameo (“Word Up”) and Pink Floyd (“Another Brick in the Wall”) tracks.
As always, shaggy front man Jonathan Davis was at the center of the storm, screaming and bellowing his angry words of alienation and hate over his bandmates’ monstrous, bass-heavy attack. The tuned-down guitars of Munky and Head created an appropriately creepy soundscape for Davis’ troubled lyrical pleas.
Davis also dragged out his trusty bagpipes for the intro to the scary, nursery rhyme-inspired “Shoots and Ladders,” a song of overcoming childhood fears that segued nicely into a surprise verse of Metallica’s antiwar anthem “One.”
Korn may have already peaked, both commercially and creatively, but opening act Chevelle is on the cusp of a major breakthrough on both counts. The Chicago-based trio, comprising three brothers, gave another outstanding local show, mixing Nirvana-inspired hard rock with the vocal drama of Tool and traces of early “Emo” groups like Far for a sweeping and striking effect.
Highlights of the band’s 50-minute set included hot new single “Vitamin R” and radio fave “Send the Pain Below,” from Chevelle’s gold-certified 2002 release “Wonder What’s Next.”