All words: Rohan Mahadevan
All photos: Jason Dixson
I told my boss I was going to see KoЯn tonight. Her response was the same response I’d been getting from everyone, “Wait, they are still a band?” My boss has a reason to be perplexed, as The Bakersfield, CA five-piece were the big shit from 1998-2002 but slowly slid into obscurity when their mainstream popularity fizzled out.
Most of the Family Values ’98 class broke up only to reform multiple times with different line-ups. Orgy tried this and to my knowledge, they are still working on that fourth album. Limp Bizkit tried to reclaim their popularity only to remain the punching bag they always were, but not KoЯn. After the tepid release of Untouchables, the band put out a greatest hits record, an MTV Unplugged album and five(!) more studio albums to vary success. When longtime drummer David Silveria and guitarist Brian “Head” Welch left, KoЯn kept chugging along.
KoЯn are currently working on a follow up to their dub-step infused The Path of Totality, but from Wednesday night’s show, it was obvious they just wanted to revisit the past and forget about the future. And who could blame them, as Head, their longtime guitarist who found Jesus in a toilet, returned to the fold.
For a band who once sold-out stadiums, Fillmore Silver Spring is pretty small, but the band packed the club to the gills all ready and waiting for whatever was to come. “Blind,” the band’s first single kicked off the set, and after all these years, it felt like an old friend who hadn’t given up their hatred of dad from high school. Head and Munky’s screeching siren-esque guitars mixed with Fieldy’s percussive bass were all intact, just like 1994. The band even played the hip-hop infused outro to the track.
The band would revisit their debut album five more times over the night, playing “Ball Tongue,” complete with a cover of “It Takes Two,” “Helmet in the Bush, Lies”, “Shoots and Ladders,” and “Need To.” Yes, “Shoots and Ladders” had a bagpipe intro, offering up one of the most hilarious moments in the night. Not any band can get a kЯowd full of meatheads to sing nursery rhymes.
Jonathan Davis spent a lot of his time on stage doing his metal Scatman John routine. “Twist,” the short interlude track that opens the band’s second album Life Is Peachy features Davis’s unique growl scat vocals which are impossible to scat along to with a straight face. “Chi,” Peachy’s first full song, followed “Twist” and made the kЯowd go wild. Fans responded the most to the singles from the later records, Issues’ “Falling Away From Me,” and Untouchables “Here to Stay,” but everyone went into a frenzy to the meathead anthem “Dead Bodies Everywhere” off the band’s seminal Follow the Leader disc.
Korn’s sound is pretty basic, but for all of the drop-d riffs, their koveЯ of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” had a technical quality to it. Their cover proved that while their music is stupid, Korn have the musical chops to take on the expansive sound.
For their encore, KoЯn dipped into dub-step with their Skrillex produced “Get Up!” The song lacked the energy of the studio version, but Davis did do live vocals on the heavy cut-up Skrillex breakdown. The last two songs were tracks fans waited all night for, “Got The Life” and the Grammy award winning hit single “Freak On A Leash.” To this day I still don’t know what the fuck the lyrics are about, but it was fun as hell to shout along to them.
While outside smoking during the opener Device, fronted by Disturbed vocalist David Draiman, a guy asked me “You Like KoЯn?” To which my tepid response of “yeah” gained an eyebrow raise, and a reply “for real?” I can admit the KoЯn show, while hilariously unintelligent, was good fun.