Korn, Rob Zombie - Palace Theatre, Melbourne

Written by Dean Forte

Korn, Rob Zombie - Palace Theatre, Melbourne

One of the great things about hosting a festival with 80 or so international acts is that, due to the negative correlation between bands willing to play sideshows and available venues, double- and triple-header bills abound, causing metalheads nationwide to go weak at the knees. It was thus no surprise that the double bill of Rob Zombie and Korn was one of the first Sidewaves to sell out, seeing the tattooed and dreadlocked crowd make their way into the Palace Theatre in full force, to witness these two hard-rocking heavyweights in action.

Despite all the promotion that implied the contrary, it was everyone’s favourite Walking Dead enthusiast, Rob Zombie, who played the first of the co-headlining sets. With the stage heavily clad in typical horror movie accoutrements, Zombie took to the stage as Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown was pumped out to the masses, who wasted no time in getting a quality mosh happening. Zombie paraded across the front of the stage in a rather agile fashion for a man clad in a leather trenchcoat and cowboy hat.

It was hit after hit, with Superbeast, Scum of the Earth, and the sexy groove of Living Dead Girl dished out in quick succession, the latter dedicated to the women of the audience. Guitarist John 5 is no doubt one of the most accomplished players on the Soundwave tour, and he wasn’t afraid to show off his talents. Ripping into an abridged version of Advance Australia Fair, amongst other noodlings in between songs, the ex-Marilyn Manson guitarist showed there’s more to his repertoire than peeling off thick hard rock riffs.

The White Zombie classic More Human Than Human has been a staple of Rob Zombie’s sets since the beginning, and tonight once again proved that it continues to shine in and amongst his solo efforts. A cover of Diamond Head’s Am I Evil? was also given the Zombie treatment, but it’s his own Dragula which was given the honour of set closer. The moshpit stepped it up a notch as close to the entire floor section jumped together in unison, and from up on the balcony, it looked and sounded spectacular.

If you’ve seen footage of, or better still, were at Big Day Out ’99, you’ve no doubt witnessed the impact that Korn had on Australian crowds in the late ’90s. At the peak of their popularity, Korn were an immense commercial success. Their colonisation of the then-fertile territory of nu-metal gave way to a generation of inferior products. Fifteen years on, they return to The Palace to see what, if anything, has changed.

Amidst a storm of strobe lighting, the band, led by vocalist Jonathan Davis, broke into the familiar guitar introduction to Falling Away From Me, and as the gentle notes made way for the onslaught of Brian ‘Head’ Welch and James ‘Munky’ Schaffer’s crashing riffs, you could see the teenager inside of everyone on the floor go completely insane.

Korn’s music is perhaps the most conducive to moshing in formation that I’ve seen in my years of attending live music shows, with its constant tempo one of the key reasons for this. Memories continued to flood back with Twist, Shoots and Ladders, and the early airing of Got The Life, as the audience were reminded of the reasons they got into Korn in the first place. A six-foot-five shirtless giant, meanwhile, was dictating proceedings in the mosh, creating circle pits at the point of a finger, and ass-ending anyone bothering to challenge him to a slam dance.

The band’s newer material, whilst receiving a warm reception from the crowd, lacked the edge and distinct sound that earlier albums had in abundance. Obligatory performances of Coming Undone and Spike In My Veins were unfortunately rendered redundant by yesteryear staples such as Faget, A.D.I.D.A.S., and Clown. The band at least had the foresight to exclude the cringeworthy Y’all Want a Single.

A strong performance of Here to Stay from 2002’s Untouchables revived the momentum, before the audience lapped up an impressive rendition of Freak on a Leash, which again saw calamity break out on the floor. (Dis)order was completely restored upon the first hint of the set closer, which came on the very first kiss of cymbals by drummer Ray Luzier, as he introduced Blind.

Like the calm before the storm, the floor section patiently spread themselves out as those signature chords were executed. Then, as the crescendo built to its climax, Davis growled, “Aarreeee yoouuu reeeaaaddddyyyy??” and the mosh went bananas as expected. Giving the audience one final say, the band and Davis paused upon the verses to let the crowd scream, “What if I should die?”

As far as co-headlining shows go, this was a no-brainer for any fan of Rob Zombie or Korn. Having the extra band thrown in for good measure is a bonus, and if you’re lucky to be seeing both bands again at Soundwave, you’re twice as lucky as I am.

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