The Return of the Dreads Tour featuring co-headliners Korn and Rob Zombie (with supporting act In This Moment) proved to be one of the biggest tours of the summer. When it was announced to come to the Las Vegas area, this is one that people scrambled to get tickets to, and with good reason. You have two bands who have put in their fair share of blood, sweat, tears, and time, as well as a band who is still making their mark on the scene. I was pretty excited for what was in store for the evening...
Newly popular, but definitely not new to the scene, In This Moment kicked off the evening of metal. I feel like I need to start off by stating that while I may not be the biggest fan of theirs, I have tried many times to give them the benefit of the doubt, because I can always appreciate a strong female fronting a band.
However, this started off a little bit weird for me... The lights came up, revealing a strange, red altar type of thing in the middle of the stage. Then the laser type show began just in time for the music. I am not sure if it was an overall sound issue, over production, or what, but between the lights and the bass, I felt like I was at EDC. The overall sound was so badly mixed and over processed that I really don't know why there were any instruments on the stage at all, because they were not audible. On top of the sound was the continuous costume changes, which in a 45 minute set is a bit of overkill...
Was the production great? Yes. Can Maria Brink sing? Yes. Is her band talented? I suppose, but I wish I could hear them as opposed to wub-wub-wub. Are they worth checking out? Sure. However, in my opinion, they were not a proper fit for this bill. They'd probably be better suited for the VMAs.
Next up was Rob Zombie. I was insanely excited for this in particular; mainly because Rob was my very first concert back in 1998. I was curious to see how much he had changed, if at all, in (almost) 20 years, and having seen his current guitarist, John 5, on his solo tour last time it had hit Vegas, I was even more intrigued by the show I was about to be treated to. Oh, and a treat it was!
The arena went pitch black as "Viva Las Vegas" began playing (of course)! Out came John 5 with his clear LED light up guitar and matching mouthpiece. In a flash, the lights came up, and the rest of the band kicked in to the opening of Zombie's "Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown" off of 2013's Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor. The stage was adorned with a giant radio (fitting for the opening song), as well as props based off of his recognizable art. Already, this was shaping up to be an amazing show.
Tossing his flashing mouthpiece into the crowd, John 5 teased the crowd with the recognizable riff to his classic "Superbeast" continuously, as Zombie said hello to the Las Vegas arena. A giant Satan joined the band on stage and bounced around with the band. I will be completely honest, I was a little worried about seeing Zombie 20 years after originally seeing him. I was expecting there to be a lapse in energy. Let's face it; the man is 51 years old. However, rock n' roll has been fueling him perfectly. He didn't miss a single note during "Superbeast" and he jumped from platform to platform, his fringed jacket flying about as he danced with his Nosferatu microphone stand.
Zombie stopped for a moment after the song to take more time to speak to the crowd and hype them up before one of his newest singles, "Get High" off of 2016's The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser (I swear his album names keep getting longer). You could see the mosh pit get rowdy at this point, and the smell of marijuana began to waft through where I was sitting, so someone definitely took his advice on getting high.
One thing about Zombie that has not changed is the video imagery used throughout his shows. Even when he is taking the time to interact with the fans, which also hasn't changed, he has videos on the screens behind him. The coolest thing, is whether they are live or animated, most of them were created by Zombie himself. During a short instrumental of "Wild Thing", he hyped up the crowd as silhouettes of women danced behind him, then came "Living Dead Girl", with the video displayed as well. I was happy that during "More Human Than Human" the display was a Godzilla-esque film, as opposed to the 1998 show, which featured a woman up on the screen masturbating during the song. The crowd lost its mind during this track as Rob interacted with all sides from the stage. He got into the photo pit are as well, grabbing on to and interacting with fans in the front couple of rows.
Later in the show during the new tune, "Gore Whore", gigantic balloons fell from the ceiling, turning the crowd into a crazy goth game of hot potato. General Admission and those in the seated areas hit the balloons back and forth for the remainder of the set, which was more of a distraction than anything. Then came Jon 5's solo, which is such a treat. Seriously, go see his solo tour if it ever comes to your town, because you will not be disappointed. The next thing I knew, Zombie was in the bleachers saying hello to people in quite a few of the sections, which was pretty fucking cool, before returning to the stage and immediately breaking into "Thunderkiss 65".
Zombie stopped the show, as many musicians have as of late, due to cell phone usage. Instead of taking the route of knocking it out of someone's hands or being a total dick about it, he handled it with class. "There's something that's ruining tonight's fun," he began, "and each of you are holding it in your hand. I have seen people put their newborn babies down to jump into the mosh pit, but not your phones. I've given you 30 years. You can give me 3 minutes." Immediately, most of the phones (including mine) were put away, which was pretty awesome to see since it has become such a distraction and an annoyance at almost every single gig you go to nowadays.
After a very loud and very cool happy birthday to John 5, followed by him playing the National Anthem with his teeth, the band went into what seemed to be the final song of the evening: Grand Funk Railroad's "We're An American Band". I thought it was an odd choice to end their set with, but when the screen turned back on, the crowd was given a real treat. A preview of Zombie's new film, 31. I will be honest, I am not big into his films. I think he is a great film maker and an amazing artist, but aside from The Devil's Rejects, they just don't tickle my fancy. 31 looks pretty awesome though. So, I think I am going to need to give it a shot! After the preview, they came out for their encore, my favorite song, "Dragula". Zombie stood upon a skeletal podium and delivered just as hard for their actual last song as he did the rest of the evening.
20 years later, and the guy still kicks ass. I was left just as excited as I was when I was a kid. So, how could KoRn possibly top what just took place?
Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Cover)
Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown
In the Age of the Consecrated Vampire We All Get High
Wild Thing (Tone-Loc Cover)
Living Dead Girl
Well, Everybody's Fucking in a U.F.O.
More Human Than Human (White Zombie Song)
Never Gonna Stop
The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore
House of 1000 Corpses
John 5 Guitar Solo
Thunder Kiss '65 (White Zombie Song)
Happy Birthday to John 5
The Star Spangled Banner (Cover)
We're An American Band (Grand Funk Railroad Cover)
Well, I don't want to say that they topped Zombie, but holy shit... They were basically neck and neck. I was pretty stoked to see KoRn for the first time, having been a fan since I was a little kid. Shit, I remember when Life is Peachy came out and when they were on fuckin' South Park with their weird bird friend! Okay... Now that I am aging myself, let's just get on to the show...
The lights dropped, and all that appeared on the stage was the band's logo, which was met with screams of joy and excitement. One by one, each member appeared on the stage, the last being vocalist Jonathan Davis. Dreadlocks began to fly about the stage as the band broke into "Right Now" off of 2003's Take a Look in the Mirror.
Now, I have always heard that KoRn is one of those bands that is hit or miss. Either they are really great live, or they are really boring. On this night, I felt they were a total hit. However, into the second song of the night, Untouchables' "Here to Stay", you could tell that Davis' microphone was having issues. Feedback came across the speakers now and then, but the crowd didn't care. Although there was a slight mosh pit going during Zombie's set, KoRn brought out the crowd-surfers. The sounds finally got under control, and the night kept on.
Like Zombie before them, KoRn interacted well with their crowd, and kept them entertained. It is really cool too that, aside from drummer David Silveria, who was replaced in 2007 by Ray Luzier, the original line up is intact. Brian "Head" Welch departed from the band for almost a decade in 2005, but rejoined in 2013, and the band has been going full speed ahead.
Looking like a shy school boy (which is truly adorable), Davis stood in the middle of the stage at his H.R. Giger styled microphone and said hello the crowd, thanking everyone for coming out. He mentioned that they had just finished up their newest record, The Serenity of Suffering (projected release date is 10/21/2016), and let the crowd know that they wanted to give us a little taste. Dude... If the rest of the album is like this track was, then it will be one killer album. The last album that I can say I thoroughly enjoyed by KoRn was 1999's Issues, so I am hoping that this one is as killer as that track was. The overall tune was heavy but melodic; catchy but unique; and it included the Davis scat so you know it's going to be good. It's just not KoRn without Davis making weird sounds, ya know?
After riling up the crowd with their 2005 hit "Coming Undone" off of See You on the Other Side, Davis stopped the show yet again, telling the audience to get both middle fingers up in the air and sing along. I was up in the bleachers and trying not to get shoved around, so I can only imagine how the people in the mosh pit were feeling when they broke into "Y'All Want a Single". This is one of those songs that when you are in an absolutely shitty mood, it not only gets a little of the angst out since you get to scream "fuck that" at the top of your lungs, but it's catchy and fun, so you end up smiling by the end of it.
After a tune off of Issues, Davis of course brought out the bagpipes. I was expecting this, and the dude can actually play them, but what I wasn't expecting was them following it up with an absolute classic off of their 1994 self titled, "Shoots and Ladders", which they somehow transformed into "One" by Metallica. This would be the only cover tune of the night, which was a nice relief and actually my only issue with Zombie's set. I was really happy that KoRn stuck strictly with KoRn songs, mainly because it was my first time seeing them. I think I would have been disappointed watching a band that I'd liked since, well... probably 1995-1996, doing nothing but other people's music.
After a few more songs, the band announced that it would be their last song of the night, and they weren't kidding. In about an hour and a half, KoRn had managed to cover the past 22 years of their career, which was insanely cool for fans old (like myself) and new. They bid the crowd goodnight and broke into what is probably the band's biggest hit single, Follow the Leader's "Freak on a Leash".
I was completely enthralled and impressed with their performance. The only disappointment for me was not hearing "A.D.I.D.A.S." or "Trash", but with a co-headlining tour, you can't fit everything in. I definitely plan on seeing them again, and if I get brave enough, maybe I will jump into the pit. It's kind of weird to think that these bands have been around for over two decades, but KoRn, like Rob Zombie, proves that the 1990s bands are still bringing it harder than the bands of today's generation.
Here to Stay
Rotting in Vein (New Song)
Y'All Want a Single
Make Me Bad
Jonathan Davis Bagpipe Solo
Shoots and Ladders (snippet of Metallica's "One")
Got the Life
Falling Away From Me
Freak on a Leash
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos by Abigail Buckler for ZRockR Magazine -©ZRockR Entertainment, LLC and Abigail Buckler Photography - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED