Korn @ The House of Blues
2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the self-titled debut album by "nu-metal" band Korn. 20 years is several lifetimes in the world of music and while Korn aren't quite at the heights they ultimately reached back in the late 90s they are still consistently turning out music that has aged beyond the "nu-metal" nature of their origins. Korn have often been seen at the progenitors of the Nu Metal genre, which in its day had spawned numerous knock-off bands like Limp Bizkit, Staind, P.O.D, etc. Few of these bands had the staying power (or honestly, the skill set) that kept Korn in business. In fact, perhaps due to such longevity, Korn the band is just as strong and tight a group as they were in their heyday. Their show at the House of Blues was proof that the band was still a force to be reckoned with.
This leg of the tour had Korn performing their debut album in its entirety (with a couple of extra songs for the encore). The band had just performed in the area back in November of last year while touring with Slipknot. That show was at the much larger Tsongas Center in Lowell. The House of Blues provided a much more intimate setting leading to a much stronger show. Part of Korn's resurgence has to do with the return of guitarist Brian Welch, who left that band back in 2005 after becoming a born-again Christian and wanting to pursue a solo career. His return had an energizing effect on the band (and the audience seemed to appreciate his presence as well). It can be tricky to resurrect an album after so many years.
The trend of performing a classic album in its entirety has been happening for a while and for some bands it can feel dated and sluggish. Korn's take on the Korn album was anything but. Most bands debut albums are anything but tight and fully formed. There are peaks and valleys and some truly forgettable moments. Honestly, Korn's album has those moments but live, they do their best to overcome some rather silly moments. For example, "Shoots and Ladders" isn't quite as metal as it maybe sounded back in the day. With its integration of nursery rhymes into its lyrics it just felt kind of (and I repeat) silly to be hearing. It has not held up well over time.
The other song that seemed problematic was "Faget." Now, I get it. Lead singer Jonathan Davis wrote it about being bullied and called a faggot in high school by jocks. And they clearly aren't a band that writes homophobic lyrics. But there is something disconcerting hearing two thousand people screaming "faget" over and over again. I definitely wasn't reading that as cathartic as the song wants the word to be. It struck me as being wildly out of date and well, disconcerting. Other than those two moments the performance was strong and had very few weak points.
The encores gave the audience one big push of greatest "hits" from the band. Ending on "Freak on a Leash" was a good way to get the audience up and moving. For much of the night the pit was decent sized but this was the song that put people over the edge. It was a powerful way to end a very strong show.