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You either love Korn or you hate em’, it’s that simple.  Originating in Bakersfield back in 1993, this band of brothers took the world by storm with their unique brand of nu-metal and never looked back.  25 years later, Korn has sold upwards of 40 million albums, won two Grammy’s, and have circled the globe countless times selling out venues all over the world.  Lucky for us, Korn decided to drop into Orange County for one of their final stops on their 2019 Summer Amphitheater Tour across North America co-headlining with Seattle legends,  Alice in Chains.  This one was going to be fun and a must see for any metal fanatic.

Opening up the show in Irvine was Inglewood’s very own Fever 333.  I honestly had never heard them prior to the show but was excited to give them a spin as I had heard great things about their live performances. From the moment the hit the stage, front-man Jason Aalon Butler and company seemed to conjure up the pent-up rage of a nation and collectively went ballistic during their 8-song set. At one point during their performance, I closed my eyes and listened to what I could have sworn was early Rage Against the Machine.  When I opened my eyes, I looked into the pit and saw Jason roaming through the mosh with what had to be a 500’ mic cable.  If that’s not metal, I’m not sure what is.  Bottom line, Fever 333 did not disappoint.

Next up on the docket was Tampa’s very own Underøath.  This six-member band had always been on my bucket list to see live and was excited to see them for the first time at this show.  From the moment they took the stage, I knew their performance was going to be special.  Spencer Chamberlain’s vocals were outstanding and each and every musician in this band was on point throughout their 9-song assault.  What surprised me the most throughout the show was how well Underøath played together on stage. These guys were tight, and it poured out during songs like “Loneliness”, “Hold Your Breath”, and “Sink with You”.   Definitely adding these guys to my playlists going forward.

Say what you will about Alice in Chains, but I have been a HUGE fan of this band since Facelift was released in 1990.  Although tagged as grunge, these guys seemed to follow their own path with a sound that was obviously different than anyone else at that time.  Although guitarist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney are the only two remaining from the original band, you wouldn’t know it with the addition of bassist Mike Inez and frontman / guitarist William DuVall.  These guys round out the band in ways you couldn’t imagine, and I would argue that Alice in Chains is more relevant now than ever. 

They kicked off their set with “Angry Chair” and then without missing a beat launched into one of my favorites, “Man in the Box”.  Good lord, William DuVall has some serious pipes and made that song his own.  I was floored.  Throughout the performance, Cantrell mesmerized the crowd with his signature guitar sound which seemed to take their set to a whole new level (if that was even possible).  They wrapped up their fifteen-song masterpiece with “Rooster” and it was pure fucking genius.  You know Layne Staley was looking down and proud as hell of AIC’s incredible performance.  I know I was.

Now on to the main event, Korn.  If you have followed the band for any length of time, you’d know that their music speaks in ways that most can’t imagine.  Subject matter is typically dark and disturbing, but ultimately positive if one takes time to listen to the messaging. It took me some time to understand the method to their madness, but once I did, I was hooked.  I’ve been a fan ever since.  These guys get it and are truly a positive force on the metal scene today.

Korn wasted no time jumping into hyper-drive with “Hear to Stay” off of 2002’s Untouchables.  God damn they sounded tight – and right out of the gate.  Jonathan Davis’s vocals were as crisp as ever and complimented by ‘Fieldy’s’ signature basslines.  Add in the dynamic guitar duo of ‘Munky’ and ‘Head’ along with the drum wizardry of Ray Luzier and you have all the ingredients necessary for one bad ass, in your face, metal extravaganza. Over the next hour and a half, Korn crushed 15-song setlist that took the now packed amphitheater on a journey through the bands 25+ year career.  No stone was left unturned as these guys played new tracks like “You’ll Never Find Me” as well as classics like “Got the Life” and “Freak on a Leash”.  Korn wrapped up their set with a four-song encore ending with “Falling Away from Me”.  It’s about as good as I have ever heard this song live and I’ve seen them many times over the years.  Perfect way to end a kick-ass show and one that I would pay to see over and over.  Love em’ or hate em’, Korn is the real deal and getting better with age!

Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

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