Photos by: Dhruv Kumar
Words by: Kunal Singh
Northwell Health at Jones Beach in Wantagh, NY. The famous outdoor amphitheater home to national and international touring acts situated between two parkways and the Atlantic Ocean is the scene for many a memorable night. This beautiful day would host 4 bands who would bring their own unique sounds to the fray and would end in a night of pure adrenaline and glory for bands who have clocked in over 20 years each of performing.
The doors open and the tailgating community start to trickle into the venue. They are greeted with a band that has a unique sound and energy of the dark hardcore punk hip hop fusion band Ho99o9 (Pronounced “Horror”). Their lineup consisted of Billy Rymer, theOGM, Eaddy, and Brandon Pertzborn. They put on a good showing and held to their roots of in your face high octane music.
Up next, Underoath took to the stage. Putting on a 9 song set, the Florida natives performed to a larger number of people as more of the crowd continued to take their seats and fill in GA. The multi-metal genre Christian band endeared themselves to the crowd with thanks and adulation for not just the audience but to their fellow openers in Ho99o9 and of course the legendary Alice in Chains and KoRn. The audience showed Underoath much love as they left the stage and put on a rock-solid energetic and impressive performance.
The sun still out, setting just over the west side of the high seats of the amphitheater, the audience was filling in even more. The sun-kissed stage was being set for the iconic mainstays of hard rock, grunge, metal. The murmurs in the audience were about how they will sound. Will it be the same? Will it be any good? Will it be better? All questions were answered from the very beginning. Alice in Chains opened up their set to a huge roar of approval with their hit “Angry Chair” as drummer Sean Kinney opened the set, while the fan faithful were elated to see their heroes return to the stage. Right away, lead singer William DuVall channeled the audience energy and led what became an all-night singalong. Legendary bassist Mike Inez laid down the lines all night and as Jerry Cantrell let the guitar rip, everyone knew all would be well.
“Man in the Box” came right after and the remaining few who were seated came to their feet. The sunset would be full of these moments, as song after song played through with no hesitation, all sounding exceptional. The sun was setting and as the stage lights came to prominence, DuVall addressed the Jones Beach crowd with adoration and respect. The entire set just kept running forward, including a wonderful guitar interlude by Cantrell. The 15 song set concluded with the two-hit combo of “Would?” and “Rooster” as the bar was set quite high for the closers of the night.
The night grew dark and the audience was at a fever pitch. Like so many, this was the first time my friends and colleagues had the chance to see KoRn live. The venue was packed even tighter now than for AIC, which is saying something. Glimpses of the stage design and set can be caught as a gentle breeze ever so subtly lifted the ends of the black curtain covering the giant stage. The excitement was building and the chants grew louder. Then, with the fury of down-tuned guitars, explosive percussion and a downbeat that only KoRn can provide, the curtain drops, and “Here to Stay” blasts throughout the amphitheater and the crowd, both GA and seated were on their feet, screaming louder than I’ve heard any other show I’ve been at this year. And just like that, KoRn was on their way to a phenomenal night of musical release and crown controlling prowess.
The stage went dark, with hints of purple and reds at the sides. The ever-familiar ride cymbal and crown hits then took. We all knew what was happening. Guitar crunches, bass drops, and the persistent ride/crown call. Jumping out of my seat immediately, along with everyone around me, we knew it was only a few more seconds until the cry from Jonathan Davis would blare. And in an explosion of sound, “ARE YOU READY” in unison tears the calm wind into pure energy. Needless to say, “Blind” was a huge hit this night. With glorious approval from the audience and the adulation of the entire arena, KoRn would continue to own this night.
As one expected, the light show was a spectacle of fractal imagery and carefully constructed sets. Mirror shielded stage lights would create a light style jungle for the band to walk through. The set design was truly fantastic and compliment the complex and raw sounds of KoRn perfectly. The theme of the evening was certainly purples, bright lines, and reds. The light show was in the ranks of the most mesmerizing I’ve seen. Maybe it’s because I imagined it as a personal playground. Jonathan Davis addressed the crowd numerous times, giving many thanks to over 20 years of KoRn, never thinking it would get this far, playing and touring with the icons that are Alice in Chains, and making this their lives.
Davis was quite active the entire night, and as hoped for, even donned his bagpipes for “Shoots and Ladders” and led the audience in their nursery rhyme interpretation. We were briefly teased with a taste of none other than Metallica when KoRn inserted “One” into a small section of the song. You know the part, “Darkness, imprisoning me, all that I see, absolute horror…” right up until the legendary Kirk Hammett solo. So close, we were so close. It was indeed a throwback to their performance for the MTV Icon: Metallica showcase they performed in. The band eventually closed the set with “Freak on a Leash” which was incredibly fitting, as so many of the KoRn faithful identify with this song. It was also the phrasing on their merchandise for this tour, with the shirts saying “Still a freak” on them. But we know this wasn’t the end of the night. Inexplicably, audience members started to empty the arena. I’ll never get that. Maybe it’s just a personal thing.
After a brief two minutes of cool down time, KoRn returned to the stage to thunderous roars as they went right into “4 U” and one of my favorites, “Twist” as the encore. They then closed out with another little tease, as they performed “Coming Undone” but added the immortal song by rock royalty Queen, and put in another snippet in their breakdowns with “We Will Rock You” and it hit like a million bucks. An interesting choice for sure, but a wise one. KoRn then closed the night with an absolutely kick-ass performance of “Falling Away From Me” and it was fantastic. I feel a little bad for our amazing cameraman, Dhruv Kumar, as he was sandwiched between some overzealous fans as they were screaming on both sides of him. Poor guy.
KoRn appears as Jonathan Davis on vocals, JR Bareis filling in for Munky on guitar, Fieldy on bass, Ray Luzier on drums, and Davey Oberlin on keyboards and synths.