Streamed concerts have come in many forms throughout the pandemic. Some artists keep it simple, opting for a traditional stage setup to recreate our memories of traditional concert experiences. Others opt to dig into the virtual environment, crafting a performance that taps into digital space. For its “Monumental” streamed show, Korn opted for a little bit of both, crafting a larger than life concert experience in an unforgettable setting that still felt like a concert.
Set on the top of a parking structure the “Stranger Things: A Drive-Into Experience” set in Los Angeles, the band built a stage that would rival the biggest stadiums. The nu-metal legends not only played surrounded by gigantic projection screens, but they also mixed massive complex lighting rigs that fired bursts of light in every direction. The icing on top the cake was the picturesque nighttime setting with the Los Angeles skyline as the backdrop of the show (which means the show wasn’t filmed the same day as it was streamed).
Opening with “Victimized,” off 2013’s The Paradigm Shift, Jonathan Davis and company hit the stage head-banging to the pounding rhythms and ferocious riffs. Davis wore all black and his voice sounded as crisp as ever.
The band followed with “Cold” and “Insane,” selecting tracks from throughout its expansive 13-album catalog. In fact, no one album was represented in the set more than three times. The song selection felt like a sampler platter.
It can be difficult for a pre-recorded streamed concert to truly feel like an event, but Korn was up to the task, making the show feel exciting, immediate and groundbreaking. Bassist Fieldy’s signature low-end bass drove “Falling Away From Me,” from the band’s 1999 release Issues. James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch traded floor-rumbling down-tuned guitar riffs while the band’s newest member, drummer Ray Luzier, provided a percussive force.
The band returned to the new material with “You’ll Never Find Me,” from its most recent release, The Nothing. “I’m lost/ You’ll never find me,” Davis screamed with unrelenting power on the bridge. Davis adeptly tore through 2003’s “Thoughtless” with a fiery energy. There was little room to catch your breath between tracks, as the show was constructed as a visual performance piece. There was no time for banter or pleasantries. An overhead shot from a helicopter rang in the group’s classic track “Coming Undone,” from 2005’s See You On the Other Side.
The filming style and tone were effective because, depending on the angle, the show took on a different life. The close shots felt authentic, as if a snapshot from a show somewhere along a tour. When the cameras panned out, the otherworldly cinematic production was at its most direct, such as on “Throw Me Away.”
Even more interesting, especially for longtime Korn fans, was the setlist. “Monumental” wasn’t about sticking to the band’s greatest hits. Some of the songs in the set haven’t been seen a live set in in the last five to 10 years. The show briskly moved from “Justin” directly into the melodic ferocity of “Black Is The Soul.” A little past the halfway mark in the show, the band broke out into “Freak On A Leash,” featuring Davis’ nu-metal scat/rap/growl. It’s also worth pointing out that, at 17 tracks and well over an hour, the concert was filled with material in a medium that can’t often be crammed into short sets.
Following the brooding “Alone I Break,” Fieldy’s slinky bass playing helped introduce “Dirty,” another track that hadn’t seen a stage since 2011. Korn brought the heaviness back for the one-two punch of “Can You Hear Me” and “Ball Tongue,” before fading to black with the combination of “Narcissistic Cannibal” and “Here To Stay.”
The show will likely make fans antsy for the mosh pit and to long for the moment when large, non-distanced crowds can converge on a massive scale.
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.