The Nocturnal Underground Tour
September 25th, 2016
Sometimes it takes a rock concert to remind you how amazing your life is and how lucky you really are. For me, that rock concert would be The Nocturnal Underground Tour’s stop in Omaha. Tonight’s show would be 13th time seeing KORN, 11th time for Breaking Benjamin, and 2nd time seeing Silver Snakes. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen a band though, each show is like seeing them for the first time again.
Motionless In White, though originally listed as support, wouldn’t joining the tour for a few more days. That meant Silver Snakes would be opening tonight’s show. The band had opened the 2nd stage for Northern Invasion earlier this year, and I had only gotten the chance to catch the last few songs of their set. Finally getting to see the band’s full set was a great experience. Though I wasn’t familiar with the band’s music, their stage show was amazing. Silver Snakes are definitely a live band. Their loud, aggressive music coupled perfectly with their set’s light show, and truly enhanced the crowd’s experience.
After having played to a near-sold-out crowd for KIWR’s River Riot 2015, and sold-out acoustic performance earlier this year at Omaha’s Sokol Auditorium, there was no doubt why tonight’s show was nearly bursting at capacity. Omaha loves Breaking Benjamin.
After a several years hiatus, the band reformed in 2014 as a quintet with, except for founder/vocalist Ben Burnley, all new members, including: Dear Agony co-writer Jasen Rauch (guitar, originally from Red); Keith Wallen (guitar and backing vocals, originally from Adelitas Way); Aaron Bruch (bass and backing vocals) and drummer Shaun Foist. I’ve never seen Burnley as happy on stage as when he’s performing with Rauch, Wallen, Bruch and Foist.
Breaking Benjamin spent their time on stage hammering through a 15 song set.
Well into the band’s second decade, Burnley knows how important it is to the fans that the band not just focus on their current release though. For Breaking Benjamin, the Nocturnal Underground tour was just as much of a Greatest Hits showcase, as it was a chance to reconnect with their fans and introduce them to the band’s new material. It was amazing to hear a few thousand people singing Polyamorous and So Cold, songs off of the band’s debut and sophomore release, and wonderful to hear the loudest voices singing during Failure and Angels Fall, from their latest recent release.
When you see Breaking Benjamin live, don’t expect the band to just hand you the songs from their albums. Burnley’s vocals are much stronger and more crisp in a live setting now. The band also adds introductions and extended outtros to the majority of their live tracks. No one wants to hear the music as it is performed exactly on the albums, and the band is fully aware of this.
Tonight wasn’t just about showcasing Burnley’s vocal prowess though. Wallen was given the spotlight as he took lead vocals for Sooner or Later, which turned into a fantastic sing-a-long with the crowd. Bruch took over vocals for Simple Design, and Believe. Having a backing band capable of taking over the duties of lead vocals while Burnley took over lead guitar, and still sustaining the crowd’s attention proves how dedicated the band’s fans are. Keeping the fan’s enamored intently with a song sung by someone other than Burnley proves that Breaking Benjamin’s fans are also capable of accepting change and altering their expectations of the band’s live show.
Tonight also gave a lot of us another chance to truly appreciate Ben Burnley as an artist. For so many of us, Burnley’s music with Breaking Benjamin helped get us through some rough patches, and it was heartbreaking when we’d thought the band had permanently dissolved several years ago.
As excited as I was for the chance to see another Breaking Benjamin concert, I was even more excited to see Korn again.
I didn’t truly become a fan of the band until seeing them on the 2006 Family Values Tour. A decade and a dozen shows later, they are one of my favorite bands to both see and photograph live. I can’t pinpoint any single one thing that has drawn me to Korn’s music. The way they can twist multiple genres into one song? Davis’ voice? The energy the band puts forth on stage? They lyrical content of each song? Maybe it’s not just one thing, but the band as a whole. The genuine way they’ve interacted with me as a person, not knowing that I was photographing and reviewing their shows. The firm handshake from Davis and Welch as they thanked me for being a fan, not knowing how many shows I’ve been to or how many albums I’ve purchased. Time has made them humble and respectful of their fans. Something today’s musicians could learn from. All these reasons clearly shine on stage when the band performs. And let’s be honest for a minute; Davis looks great in a kilt.
Not having had the chance to see Korn before Welch’s departure makes shows like this all the more special. Seeing the way that Fieldy, Welch, Davis and Munky play off of each other’s energy on stage is a spectacle.
After having premiered Rotting In Vain off of their 13th studio album, The Serenity of Suffering, during Chicago Open Air this past July and giving fans the chance to listen to Insane during this tour, a lot of us were very excited to hear how the new songs would fit in with the band’s older material during a live set. Not to mention that it had been almost two years since the band had played Omaha, and we were all itching for our Korn fix.
Davis took the chance to address the crowd several time throughout the night. He thanked us multiple time for spending the evening with the band, and apologized for having been away from Omaha for a few years.
The synergy between Korn and their fans are also something all bands should aspire too. The crowd seethed as Davis would head-bang at his mic, and Welch would thrash around stage right. Munky’s crowd interaction game was also upped. Several times during the band’s set, Munky would march over to the speakers on stage left and coax a reaction from the fans in front of him. Crowd participation was mandatory for tonight’s show. Even Fieldy took the occasional walk to the front of the stage to entice the crowd.
Korn know how to keep their fan’s attention. Older tracks were given a new spin; alter a chord, or Davis adjusting his vocals, to give them a fresh feel. This made the transition from Here To Stay into Rotting In Vain into Somebody Someone seamless. Korn aren’t interested in playing the exact same song show after show and year after year. While The Nocturnal Underground setlist may remain the same, the style in which it’s presented is slightly altered for each tour. I’ve heard Right Now and Here To Stay performed almost a dozen times live, and each time the song seems to get heavier and more brutal.
Each tour the band embarks on ups the level of musical brutality that band is known for, but it’s not mindless brutality for the sake of violence. For the past two decades, Korn’s music and live shows have become an outlet for their fans. Thankfully, as tonight’s show proved, the band will continue to be there for us for many more years.