I flew solo last night to an evening of heavy, distorted guitars and machine-gun-like drums from 3 metal bands with some of the worst names in music... Five Finger Death Punch (with a nod to the Kill Bill movies), Hellyeah and KoRn. Of the awful names, Korn is the only band I've seen before, and I've caught their show before I believe 5 times over the years. So here comes time #6, a bit older but probably none the wiser. I jam myself into Alltel Arena in North Little Rock with thousands of teens all with their cool black shirts and jeans, complete with thousands of tattoos, chains and piercings. They might as well have closed Hot Topic for the evening cause they weren't getting any business. Of course, I appear to be a NARC to the thousands as opposed to fitting in probably, but what's an old man to do? Stay home and watch Matlock?
I arrive at the venue and am greeted by 2 street corner preachers with megaphones yelling about saving your soul with 2 zombie looking girls handing out pamphlets and info. I took one and read through it while watching the metal heads get a good laugh out of the group. I got to thinking, ya know, these guys are right. It's time I straighten up and fly right and it's long overdue. I tore up my ticket, hugged the megaphoners, and headed back to my car to go home for a quiet evening of the tea and crumpets.
Ah, who am I fooling? I went right by them with a wink and on to see the auditions for hell's house band. So anyway, the tour is called "Bitch We Have a Problem" so you know this thing is gonna get ugly, and I'm not just talking about the attendees. But I've risked it all by showing up with no ear-plugs... perhaps an unwise decision?
First up is a band whose CD I picked up recently and really like, Five Finger Death Punch, who includes former members of W.A.S.P., Motorgrater and U.P.O. The name of the CD is The Way of the Fist, and that pretty much describes what you need to know about the music... it's heavy, mean and pretty much smashes your face in. Small mosh pits began quickly (urged on by the lead singer, perhaps a bit too much) as they hammered through songs with names like White Knuckles, Salvation, Ashes, The Devil's Own and The Bleeding (which I personally think is one of the best songs of the year). A solid, high-energy metal set with some clean vocals by the singer and some growled and screamed vocals... a large range of styles. He's actually a pretty amazing lead singer, Ivan Moody, as one second he's carefully vocalizing in a clean voice then the next he's exploded into a passionate growl or scream, but somehow you can understand what he's saying regardless. Their show has a lot of energy and I'm already looking forward to seeing them again sometime.
Up next... Hellyeah, a new band featuring members of Mudvayne, Pantera and Nothingface, who are touring to support their self-titled debut album that came out in April. Their music is really somewhere between really heavy melodic metal and hard rock... perhaps a bit of the southern metal sound even. Vinnie Paul Abbot, drummer of Pantera and brother of Dimebag Darrell (R.I.P), is just a monster on the drums and it's good to see him playing again. I saw him with Pantera years ago and I saw him about 3 years ago with Damageplan, mere months before Darrell was killed. He just destroys a drum kit. They come out ripping with Matter of Time and followed with GDamn, Rotten To the Core, Star and Nausea before covering Queen's Stone Cold Crazy (sang as Stone Cold Wasted) and an acoustic start for the sing-a-long Alcohaulin' Ass (which rhymes perfectly with "pour another drink in my glass" oddly enough) which brought out the lighters. You just can't have a rock show without a lighter scene or 2. It was lead singer Chad Gray's birthday so the crowd got to sing back to them a bit with the Happy Birthday song before toasting as they launched into a brutal version of the smartly named track Hellyeah and finishing with Matter of Time. Another very good crowd pleasing set with a really nice pace. The bad news... lead singer Chad Gray did say it was a "big rock show in Little Rock". ARRRGG!!
KoRn finally hit the stage about 2 hours after the concert began, getting the crowd fully pumped up with Here to Stay as their opener with it's rib breaking bass. They played a mix of new songs off their more recent albums like Evilution, Coming Undone and Twisted Transistor to classics like Falling Away From Me, Trash, Dead Bodies Everywhere, Faget, Blind and Freak on a Leash while mosh pits threatened to collapse the foundations of Alltel Arena. They brought with them a fantastic laser light show that was probably the best I've ever seen, at times stealing the show nearly. Although it seems like just a lot of noise to some with all the bass and massive backbone to the music, musically the entire band was spot on during the sonic ass-kicking. It's actually pretty amazing to see the controlled chaos with the 3 leaders in front while 2 percussionists, a keyboardist and 2nd guitarist go nuts behind them all while being as tight as you could imagine. Joey Jordinson on the drums is almost as entertaining as Vinnie Paul in the previous set and he's bashing them like they just killed his puppy. Jonathan Davis has his kilt and knee socks on while bantering with the audience and delivering his unique vocals with a cadence that's just impossible to duplicate. He sounds like a pissed-off Tasmanian Devil who's grown weary of searching for Bugs Bunny and has turned to crack.
What I didn't like was a lot of the down time they had, with some sort of weird ambient stuff getting played while they diddled with the guitar sometimes between songs for up to 3 or 4 minutes while the band readjusted or whatever. Several of those breaks added to the time between the encore and set and they probably could have either shortened the set by 20 minutes or easily played 4 or 5 songs. They have so much in their catalog of over a decade that personally I was a bit letdown by the set list of maybe too much off the new CD and would have liked some additional tracks like Ball Tongue, Hypocrites or Wake Up Hate. Also, Vinnie came out and sat at the drum kit and teased Cowboys From Hell and Walk along with Munky on guitar, but they didn't play either. I hate a tease.
But again though, it's realy an awesome show these guys put on. KoRn is unique in itself, there really isn't another band like them around.
A great night of loud, mean music.