Metal powerhouses Korn and Rob Zombie brought their Return of the Dreads tour to the Philadelphia area on Friday, 9/2 with their show at Camden NJ’s BB&T Pavilion, and what a way to kick off a holiday weekend. Normally I don’t travel out of state to cover a show, but with this tour skipping NYC, my options were limited: go to the show in Holmdel at PNC Bank Arts Center and shoot from the crowd, or drive the extra 45 minutes to the Camden show and hang out in Philly for the day. I’ve been to a Korn show before; driving the extra 45 minutes for a photo pit was the obvious choice. This was my second time seeing both Korn and opening act In This Moment, who oddly enough I believe were on the same lineup 5 years ago as part of Disturbed’s Music as a Weapon tour, way back before I had any idea who In This Moment were.
None the less, In This Moment kicked off the party in Camden, albeit with only 7 songs, which was a huge disappointment. I was hoping they’d have more time simply because of the theatrics, but also because they absolutely killed it live the first time I saw them way back in 2011. Anyway, on this night just outside Philly, ITM opened their abbreviated set with Sick Like Me from their most recent album, 2014’s Black Widow, and followed it with that album’s title track. ITM would then go through Adrenalize, Burn, Sex Metal Barbie, Whore and finally Blood, which is consistent with their set for the duration of the tour.
ITM are more theatrics and choreographed stage production than they are metal, as they bring out dancers and weapons and smoke and a bunch of other things you would only see at an In This Moment show. That’s not to say that they don’t kick ass live, because they definitely do, but their show is very heavily centered on vocalist Maria Brink than any other member of the band, as she comes out with all kinds of props and even wields knives and smoke canons, which is why I’d love to see them on a headline tour. They’re solid live AND they give you a visual show to remember.
Up next would be none other than Rob Zombie, the man who created his like Dragula and Living Dead Girl. I admittedly stopped listening to Rob Zombie many years ago, not long after The Sinister Urge. I had actually forgotten he was still making music for a while since he’s gotten into horror movies. Seeing him live for the first time brought back a rush of late 90’s, early 2000’s nostalgia of getting off the cheese bus freshman year of high school with Dragula and Feels So Numb blasting on my Sony CD player with oversized headphones wrapped around my noggin. But I digress. Mr. Zombie kicked off his set with Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown. Try saying that a couple times. Needless to say, Rob Zombie has a bunch of songs with weird like names like that, including In The Age of the Consecrated Vampire We All Get High and, my personal favorite for a song name, Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O, both of which made the cut for the setlist on this night.
Prior to the aforementioned track with the great name, Zombie played Living Dead Girl from his 1998 debut album Hellbilly Deluxe, and right after was the White Zombie classic More Human Than Human, followed by Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy). Eventually Mr. Zombie kicked out an epic guitar solo along with a striking rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner before playing a heavy metal cover of the Grand Funk Railroad anthem We’re an American Band. Finally, it was the song I had been waiting to hear live since I first heard it way back in 1998: Dragula, which, as his biggest hit, closed out the set. Needless to say, Dragula is just as epic live in 2016 as it was on CD 18 year ago. The 15-song set from Zombie was well worth checking out, and now I have to get myself back into him and check out his post-2001 material. He’s absolutely insane live and hasn’t lost a step over his 18-year career as one of heavy metal’s under-appreciated acts.
Finally, it was time for the night’s main attraction and the reason I made the two hour drive to Philly in the first place (well, that and cheesesteak) – Korn. Surprisingly, Korn’s set turned out to be exactly one song shorter than Rob Zombie’s, something you rarely see from a headlining act. As I mentioned at the top, this was my second time seeing Korn live, but I haven’t really been listening to them for a while. The last album I can remember listening to was 2005’s See You On The Other Side, which featured Coming Undone. Wow, Coming Undone is really 11 years old already? But again I digress, and should probably continue the review.
Korn’s changed a bit over the years – they’ve gone through phases of nu metal, heavy metal and industrial metal, but have always kept their roots , and their dreads. On Friday night in Camden, Korn took us all on a roller coaster through time from their early hits all the way through their newest tunes, in no particular order. Opening with Right Now, the tone was set immediately for what would be almost an hour and a half of headbanging metal. Following up on Right Now was 2002’s hit Here To Stay. The aforementioned Coming Undone would be the band’s 5th song of the night, and was then followed by a couple songs that were completely new to me. Those included Y’all Want a Single and Make Me Bad, but what came next was both surprising and awesome at the same time. Korn played Shoots and Ladders, the song that got me into them in the first place way back in 1996 when I first heard it at 10 years old. Mind. Blown.
Eventually Korn would play Got The Life and ultimately close with Freak on a Leash, either of those two could have closed as one could make the argument for either song being their biggest hit and most popular song. Noticeably absent from the setlist, however, was Dead Bodies Everywhere. Slightly disappointing, sure, but Korn more than made up for it with the 14 tracks they did play. Shoots and Ladders was worth the drive alone. At the end of the night, when all was said and done, Korn, Rob Zombie and In This Moment combined to make my 4-hour roundtrip drive worth every minute. I knew Korn was good live from the first time I saw them 5 years ago, but I had forgotten just how good they actually are, live or not. After a night full of 90’s nostalgia, how can I not start listening to them again?