Peabody Opera House
St. Louis, MO
KoRn and John Mayer are a lot alike.
I know what you're thinking: "Finally! Somebody said it!"
That was you I just thought-quoted.
Wait, what? You didn't think that.
Well, here's why I think it.
I've always marveled at how John Mayer can make great "simple" music. I've contended for some time now that making "simple" music that's moving and timeless is an absolute art. Think Van Morrison, think Jack Johnson. There's no complex layering, no odd time signatures, no speed solos or technically challenging harmonizing. There's just a whole lot of good. Over and over again. And a lot of people with rudimentary musical skills could probably cover all of it.
But they didn't create it. And also, they couldn't create it. And also, they won't ever be able to create it. Because in this "simpleness" scenario, that's where the greatness exists. In the creation.
Enter me. In St. Louis. Watching KoRn play power chords with very few single notes being plucked. Watching Fieldy (bass player) essentially playing a bongo drum in the form of a 5-string bass. Watching an entirely entertaining spectacle. Because much like really good and simple pop music, making good and catchy heavy metal is an art unto itself.
And just to be clear, I'm not saying KoRn, Mayer, Morrison, and Johnson are necessarily formulaic. I don't appreciate music as a formula. One of my favorite song titles is Nirvana's "Verse Chorus Verse" for its aversion to that type of shrink-wrapped disposable musical upchuck.
A lot of really awful bands play power chords and never become KoRn. KoRn possesses a unique creativity and mystique wrapped in a highly emotional and aggressive musical package. It's tempting to lump them in with the shit metal bands that have fallen into obscurity these past 20 years, all while KoRn has been releasing successful albums and embarking on sold out tours. That's right, 20 years. I'm old.
And honestly, I'm not the hugest KoRn fan you'll ever meet. Of the 5 people I was with at this particular show, I was the 5th biggest fan. But I get it. I can see why their heads are still above water while so many others' aren't. It essentially boils down to authenticity. The anger, pain, and aggressiveness seems to come from a very real place, which is simultaneously sad and purposefully entertaining.
For the true KoRn fans out there, it was a treat to see Brian "Head" Welch (lead guitar, backup vocals) back with the band after an 8 year Jesus hiatus. When he walked out on stage at the beginning of the face-shredding opener, "Blind," I truly didn't recognize him. Hair grows a lot in 8 years, apparently. So do beards. I think tattoos must grow at the same rate on some people. As a matter of fact, the hair on all the original members of the band is a sight to behold in and of itself. Their respective dreads are long in the way a homeless dude's hair is long; not because they purposely grew it out, but because it seems like it actually never even dawned on any of them to cut their hair for 10 years.
"Head" wore an all white jeans suit that looked to be showing the effects of the chimney sweeping job he had apparently just completed before the show. "Fieldy" painted his eyes racoony and was the only member not in long sleeves and long pants. He opted for the requisite 3/4 length Adidas shorts/pants and a Jersey tank. Jonathon (lead vocals) looked "fit" and somewhat happy, which made me happy after listening to the song "Daddy" on the way to the show. "Munky" (rhythm guitar, backup vocals) spits water a lot. And has copious amounts of cool. The drummer (not an original member) was probably the most musically talented person on stage, but he's sort of a hired gun, so I don't really care.
Here's the setlist:
Ball Tongue/It Takes Two/Lodi Dodi
Falling Away From Me
Dead Bodies Everywhere
Did My Time
Shoots and Ladders/Somebody Someone
Here to Stay
Helmet in the Bush
No Place to Hide
Another Brick in the Wall
Got the Life
Freak on a Leash
As a somewhat casual fan, I was completely happy with this setlist due to its heaviness on earlier albums. Not many artsy deep cuts here, which was fine by me, and by my observation, the rest of the angsty, black-clad concertgoers.
The sound at the Peabody Opera House is pretty damn good, even for a metal show. We were 4th row for this show and could hear every member fairly clearly. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves, with Jonathon even looking over at Head and laughing a few times mid song. This show is definitely not for everyone, but if you have even the slightest bit of "metal" in your personality, KoRn is a pretty sure bet to get your fix. Here's "Blind" from the St. Louis show (quality vids were tough to find...security were camera Nazis), followed by a little tease of some new material that sounds really interesting from a forthcoming album.