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Rob Zombie, Korn, Scar the Martyr 11-13-2013

Night of the Living Dreads
November 13th, 2013
Sioux City, Iowa
Tyson Events Center
Rob Zombie, Korn, Scar the Martyr

It’s always a party when metal bands pass through Sioux City, Iowa. The Tyson Events Center is one of my favorite venues and it’s worth the hour and a half drive from Omaha. Fans had started lining up earlier in the afternoon, all hoping for a prime spot pressed up against the barricade. Not even the chilly fall air would deter them. Even with a high level of excitement, there was a sense of community and family that I rarely see except for a rock concerts. When the doors finally opened, there wasn’t a mad rush to the arena, people we calm and patient, waiting their turn to pass through the doors. They would save their energy for the bands and the night of the living dreads.
Very few of the thousands of fans packed into the Tyson Events Center knew anything about Scar the Martyr except that it was the latest side project from Slipknot founder and drummer Joey Jordison. The six piece metal band did their best to warm up the crowd for Korn and Rob Zombie, and by the band’s fourth song, Never Forgive Never Forget, the crowd had indeed started to show a little love. The band used their time on stage to prove themselves an authentic heavy metal band and worthy of opening for musicians who cut their touring teeth when most of the members of Scar the Martyr were still scuffling on the playground during recess.
While Scar the Martyr’s music was catchy enough and each of the members played with a prescision that can only be learned through dedication to their craft, their stage show was rather rehearsed and bland. I have a feeling they’d have greatly benefited if veteran drummer and keyboardist Chris Vrenna had remained in the band. I expected more from a group comprised of members of Slipknot, Strapping Young Lad and Darkest Hour. But Scar the Martyr are a true hair metal band, except for their clean cut keyboardist who looked like he was fresh out of high school, but even he head banged like a pro. Newcomer to the scene, vocalist Henry Derek looked almost nervous and paced back and forth across the stage the entire time the band played, pausing only briefly a few times to grip his mic stand and headbang. I’m not a fan of the synchronized head banging and hair whipping that the band did numerous times throughout their set. It just doesn’t look natural.
Devil horns were raised midway through their set but Derek got the best response from the fans when he gave Korn and Zombie a shoutout. While the crowd did respond well to Scar the Martyr, it was obvious that they were saving their energy for Korn and Rob Zombie. I think this would have been different had the band interacted more with their fans beyond announcing their signing after their set and self-promoting their new album.
Over all, as an opening act, Scar the Martyr put on a high energy show and did a well enough job pumping the crowd during their 5 song set. Finally, during the band’s closing number, Blood Host, there was a bit of moshing. Scar the Martyr ended their set with a jam session, allowing the crowd to build up the excitement of what was to come.
It was great listening to fans tell their concert stories while waiting for Korn to take the stage. So many of us had seen the band numerous times and I was surprised at how many fans had never seen the band perform with Brian “Head” Welch, myself included. This would mark my 8th time seeing the band live but only my first seeing Head on stage with them. One thing you can expect from a Korn concert is an extreme level of visual intensity and this became instanty apparent as soon as Scar the Martyr’s gear was removed from the stage. A rusted, rod iron fence stretched the entire length of the stage, running behind Ray Luzier’s drumkit. Head’s mic stand looks like it was put together from discarded scrap metal found in an ancient junkyard. The excitement level became more audible as soon as one of the stage crew drilled down lead singer Jonathan “JDevil” Davis’ H. R. Giger crafted mic stand. During Korn’s stage set up, one asshat decided it would be funny to throw a cup of ice onto the stage. Boos and jeered erupted from the crowd and the band’s stage manager took to the mic calling the “fan” a douche bag. The crowd screamed in agreement. Soon after though, the arena lights dimmed and the fans once again erupted in screams of excitement for the show that was about to begin. For those of you that have been to an arena concert, you know what it’s like to be in the crowd and surrounded by thousands of screaming fans but I have to admit that my intial excitement comes from looking behind me and seeing a few thousand of my newest friends just as excited as I am to see the show.
The screams of excitement rose to deafening levels as soon as Luzier took his place on stage and hit the opening cymbal chords of Blind. The seething masses released a lifetime worth of frustrations during Blind. It was great to finally have the opportunity to see Head back with the band and to watch him interact with Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu as though the past 8 years were just a short vacation. For the fans who’d been following the band since the beginning, it was great to look over my shoulder and see so many of them mouthing the words to Twist along with JDevil. That level of energy from the crowd was carried over to the band as they hammered through Falling Away From Me and Love & Meth. The moshing reached a peak as the opening chords of Narcissistic Cannibal were played. James “Munky” Shaffer was thrashing around on stage just as much as the screaming fans were, twirling around and wielding his guitart like a weapon of mass destruction.
There was a sense of urgency from the crowd during the short interludes between the band’s tracks, but the screams of excitement continued without pause. Korn played a perfect mixture of classic and new tracks, giving the older tracks an edgier, updated feel. It was remarkable how well Dead Bodies Everywhere, a track nearly a decade old, sounded when played between Narcissistic Cannibal and Prey For Me. The mixture of Korn’s more evolved electronic sound fit perfectly with the distinctive siren like shards of dissonant guitar sound that so many of us credit Korn for creating.
The highlight of the even for so many was when JDevil walked on stage with his bagpipes and treated the crowd with Shoots and Ladders. In all my life, I would have never expected a crowd full of metal heads to applaud and mosh during a bagpipe solo but JDevil makes the classic instrument a necessity for every Korn show. Mixing the last verse and chorus of Somebody Someone into Shoots and Ladders enhanced the dark undertones of both tracks, creating a hybrid and giving each new meaning.
The energy level of the band continued to peak while they hammered out an intense version of Never Never that found the voices of the arena singing along to every word. The moshing that had begun during Blind had only paused a few shorts times and gained in intensity during each of the band’s songs. The crowd surfing had surged during Here to Stay. Watching Korn live is like watching a group of best friends having the time of their life. It’s great to see these grown men still enjoy their craft after over two decades of creating music and playing hundreds and hundreds of live shows. A few times during their set, Fieldy messed with Head’s guitar as Head took a break from bouncing around the stage. Luzier was also once again in top form. Anyone watching the drummer would be amazed as how many times the guy would hit his cymbal, toss his sticks into the air, catch them and continue banging out without missing a beat. JDevil was just as energetic as the fans who were there to see him. When not trashing around the stage, JDevil would headbang with his mic stand, and I swore a few times that stand almost hit the floor after JDevil would whip the stand back and forth.
After another short pause, Davis asked the crowd for a little help. “Raise your middle fingers in the air. (Kids, don’t do that).” The fans were happy to play along. “Now on the count of three, I want you all to scream FUCK THAT. Can you do that?” Of course the crowd agreed and I’ve never heard such enthusiasm before. So many people in the crowd knew every word to Y’All Want A Single, screaming the chorus with JDevil. After the final chords died, JDevil thanks the fans and the quartet exited the stage. But the crowd wasn’t done with the band and began chanting “One More Song.” Well, we got what we wanted and then some.
Korn’s encore consisted of Get Up!, Got the Life and Freak On a Leash. The light show served it’s purpose for Korn’s set. Strobe lights flashed during the heavy bass beats and enhanced the tone of the band’s music. The pops and flashed during Get Up! were spectacular. Korn know how to put on a fantastic show, whether it’s Head standing on the edge of the stage and leaning into the crowd so that the fans finger tips can barely touch his guitar or Munky walking to the side of the stage and tossing his guitar picks into the crowd. Luzier, with his acrobatic drumming, even tossed a few sticks into the mix. Fieldy, Head and Munky each played a very serious role on stage but you could clearly see that everyone was having a blast playing the tracks we all love to hear. Fieldy stepped onto the stage speakers during Got the Life and leaned into the crowd, while JDevil mimed a lease and jerking off during the song’s second chorus. Head looked very comfortable playing the few tracks that he’d not written during his hiatus from the band.
After over an hour of smashing the crowd with their music, JDevil thanked the crowd for being such amazing fans and exited the stage. Head, Munky and Fieldy each throw a handfull of their picks into the crowd before walking off. Luzier even grabbed a few of his bass drum skins and flung them into the crowd. Each of Korn’s members honestly appreciate how much thier fans love the band and during every show like to remind us all how much the band loves us in return.
Each time I see Korn, it’s like seeing them again for the first time. The excitement of each new show builds on the previous. Korn are a band that keeps getting better and better.
Which reminds me of why tonight’s show was the concert of the year for so many of us. Having Korn and Rob Zombie tour as co-headliners means that both bands plays as though they’re headlining, no matter who’s opening for who. As amazing as Korn’s set was, we were guarenteed that Zombie’s would be just a great, not that any of us had any doubts.
Thankfully we were given a few extra minutes to catch our breath while Zombie’s crew set up the stage. Giant banners of classic iconic horror characters were placed along the back of the stage. The Woflman, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Phantom of the Opera leared at the crowd, while King Kong loomed larger than life. Part of Rob Zombie’s appeal is his stage show and he spares no expenses giving his fans a brilliant show. Zombie also changed the style of the band’s microphone stands for this tour. Instead of the kneeling, six armed skeletons, the stands are now molded after the Nosferatu, Count Orlok as played by Max Schreck in the classic Murnau silent German film of the same name released in 1922. The new mic stands look amazing. Count Orlok’s arms are outstretched like he’s ready to pounce on his victim and the chrome finish reflects the stage lights perfectly. Even without the giant LCD screens, Zombie’s stage decorations are perfect for enhancing the horror genre aspects of his music.
By the time 9:30pm hits and the house lights are killed, the crowd’s anticipation has reached a boiling point. Theme For the Rat Vendor announced the return of Rob Zombie to the Tyson Event Center’s stage and could barely be heard over the screams of the fans. Bass player Piggyd casually walked on stage, finding a spot in the darkness behind his mic stand. In the darkness, all that could be clearly seen was John5’s guitar, it’s LCD plated face shining like a beacon in the night. Drummer Ginger Fish took his place on stage, perched up high on his drumkit. Extending his left hand, clutching a drum stick, high above his head, marked the beginning of Zombie’s set. John 5’s fingers danced across the strings and Fish hammered the bass drum and Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown began.
Rob Zombie strutted onto the stage as the crowd bounced and screamed, their voices uniting. Baths in deep red lights, the stage looked like a gory crime scene. Zombie kept to center stage during Dead City Radio, shifting and swinging his Nosferatu mic stand side to side, tipping the brim of his top hat like a circus ringmaster. The energy level increased during Superbeast as Zombie ran back and forth across the stage, twirling around and headbanging. Even after over two decades of making music and touring, Zombie has twice the energy of most musicians half his age. Zombie knows how to put on a show. It’s not just about the music. Zombie couples the experience of a live concert with the intense light show and visuals to enhance the fan’s experience. The moshing and crowd surfing that had started during Superbeast continued through Scum of the Earth. It was so awesome seeing so many fans in the crowd singing every word, each of them looking just as excited as I was to be apart of tonight’s show. Zombie instructed the guys in the crowd to get their wifes and girlfriends on their shoulders during Living Dead Girl. It was at this point that the first bra was thrown on stage and several girls flashed the band.
Zombie took a brief break after Living Dead Girl to address the crowd, telling us how great the crowd in Casper, Wyoming were the night before. The crowd responded by boo’ing. “Do you all hate Casper that much,” Zombie asked. “Last night Casper threw 77 boulder holders on stage. Think we can beat that record tonight?” Zombie then brouoght on stage the 77 bras, each tied end to end, draping them across the stage. John5 picked up on of the bras off the stage and pup it on his head while playing the Star Spangled Banner, part of which with his teeth. Zombie, wearing a top hat, then returns to the stage as our national anthem bleeds into the band’s cover of American Band. Stage hands release giant orange and black ballons into the crowd, and the fans gladly bounce the balloons across the arena floor. Zombie then introduced drummer Ginger Fish who treated the crowd with a blistering drum solo that bleeds into More Human Than Human. One of Zombie’s more popular, heavier tracks, the crowd responds by opening several circle pits on the arena floor and Zombie has the crowd jumping. While John5 and Piggyd trade places on stage, Zombie crawls onto the barricade halfway through More Human Than Human and finishes the song while leaning into the crowd, the fans holding him up. Zombie has never been one to shy away from putting himself within the fan’s reach. The giant balloons are still bouncing around the arena and there’s a short pause while Zombie makes his way back onto the stage. Leaning into Orlok, Zombie conducts one half of the arena to chant ROCK ROCK ROCK and the other half to chant MUTHERFUCKER MUTHERFUCKER MUTHERFUCKER. After consulting with Piggyd, Zombie decides it’s the ROCK ROCK ROCK half of the arena that has proven themselves worthy and John5 shredds into Sick Bubblegum. The stage lights shifted from blue to shades of purple as John5 worked the crowd into another continuous frenzy. Fists were pumping. Bodies were flailing. The crowd was seething for more. John5 hefted his guitar up over head and played the last verse of Sick Bubblegum with his guitar behind his head. Surging bodies crowd surfed and crashed into the barricades. Crowd control was kept of their toes all night.
The stage lights dimmed again and the chords of House of 1000 Corpses began. Zombie, Fish and John5 each wore tattered cowboy hats, while Piggyd had on a fedora. John5 also wore a creepy kabuki mask, similiar to his own face paint. The fans clapped along to Fish’s bass drum and chanted along with Zombie. The sinister lights that bathed the stage enhanced the dark mood of the song.
Not giving the crowd a chance to regroup, John5 shredded into Never Gonna Stop. By the reaction of the female half of the crowd, it was definately one of their favorite tracks of the evening. The arena floor was packed to capacity with screaming fans, each of them shoving and pushing their way to the barricades, each eager for the chance to witness the show up close.
“John5,” Zombie said, pointing at his axe man. “Play us something with a groovy beat.”
That groovy beat belonged to Thunder Kiss ’65. Once again the crowd erupted with screams and cheers. Zombie spent the song dancing around the stage while John5 hung various bras on his mic stand. Orlok approved. During the final chorus of the song, Zombie exited the stage and John5 pummelled the crowd with his guitar solo. The crowd approved by lifting lighters and their devil horns high into the air. Fish joined in halfway through and the two jammed out like in the days when the two were in Marilyn Manson. During 5’s solo, Zombie had snuck around the outside of the arena and re-entered through the general admission entrance. Waving a spotlight into the crowd, Zombie silently made his was around and back behind the barricades. Fans nearly toppled over each other trying to get the chance to touch the rock icon as he walked by. One girl did get a little handsy though and had to be pulled off of Zombie by several security guards. Taking back center stage, Zombie addressed the crowd again. “This is one of the most fun tours we’ve been on. We’re reunited with our friends in Korn and happy we’re sharing the stage with them every night.” Zombie then invited Munky, Head and Fieldy of Korn onto the stage and the two bands cut into their version of Am I Evil?. Seeing these band perform, you can tell that each of them are having a great time with this tour. I’ve never seen Zombie or Davis smile during their sets as much as I have during tonight’s show. After Am I Evil?, Zombie thanks Korn, saying they need to figure out a way to get two drum kits on stage, referring to having Joey Jordison on stage with the band again. In the past, Jordison has toured with both Korn and Rob Zombie.
After the members of Korn exit the stage, Zombie asks John5 if there’s “something we’re forgetting? Weren’t we in the middle of something?” The band then cut back into a reprise of Thunder Kiss ’65. Zombie then thanked the fans for all their support and closed the evening with Dragula. Another fan favorite, Zombie’s energy didn’t waiver for a second during Dragula and neither did the crowd’s. How this man keeps such a high energy level each night, during each song amazes me. Zombie is a true artist and performer. He knows how to put on an amazing show and to give fans an experience they’ll never forget. Zombie introduced each member of his and thanked the fans for their support, all while those same fans chanted ZOMBIE ZOMBIE ZOMBIE. The worst part of a Rob Zombie show is that the level of intensity is so high that the time really flies by and the moments are soon just fond memories.
Tonight’s show was a week shy of being on the 18th anniversary of my very first concert experience, White Zombie. That show changed my life forever and introduced me to a whole new genre of music. I’m sure that tonight’s show changed more than a few lives and hopefully we’ll all be seeing Zombie on stage again for many more years to come.

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