Thursday, August 23, 2007

Family Values at Verizon

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2007 at 1:11 PM

Atreyu, Evanescence and Korn

August 22, 2007

Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Better than: The Jerry Springer Show

By Crystal K. Wiebe

I hauled out to Bonner Springs again last night. It was the second Wednesday in a row I’ve spent at the venerable Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Last week was Warped Tour; last night was the Family Values Tour. I would have lazed out again and just offered photos from the experience, but I wasn’t allowed to bring my digital camera into the venue, “per Korn’s request,” said the bag checker/patron-pat-down lady at the entrance.

Because, you know, little point-and-shoot digital cameras pose a real threat to the band’s livelihood.

There was no use fighting it, so my boyfriend and I started all the way back across the endless desert of a parking lot to stow our camera. On the way, we encountered our first freak of the evening. He was kind of pudgy, with a skinny braid on either side of his head. Clearly intoxicated, he was dancing around the porta-potties, yelling “Krangle! Krangle!” into the face of anyone who walked by.

jondavis01_thumb.jpg

Hi, Im Jonathan. Gimme all ur cameraz, plz.

I had a sudden realization that Korn – at times a pretty whacked out crew itself – appealed to a lot of mid-1990s fuck-ups. Although I’d never dis a band’s whole fanbase, there did seem to be more than a few unsavory characters in attendance. And the crowd at my last Korn concert was one of the scariest I’ve ever been in, between the calls for more tits and the pure aggression the band taps.

But rock and roll is for the freaks, right? I tried to remember this, as we headed for our seats behind the VIP area and our mild-mannered friends took their place on the lawn, among the shirtless and the stoned.

Because my boyfriend and I had to work all day, we missed the first half of the festival. The first act we caught was Atreyu, who took the stage a few minutes after we sat down, to a sample of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” A fat-bottomed girl in the next section of seats seemed excited. The phrase on the back of her shirt – “Hard Fuckin Rock” – more or less describes Atreyu, which is one of those hardcore screamo bands.

The band’s official screamer has the easiest job. For most of the songs, he just roamed the stage, showing off his tattooed chest, while the drummer sang. Part of the problem was that you couldn’t hear the screamer, even when he was doing his thing. About halfway through the set, though, the sound guys figured it out and cranked him up for a song he said was about the stuff creeping and crawling around in “man’s intestinal tract.” Atreyu also played an ass-rocky version of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.”

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Gutz of man.

Thankfully, the covers performed throughout the night got steadily better. Evanescence came on next, to the delight of many fat-bottomed goth girls. Frontwoman Amy Lee appeared in a black dress with a puffy, princess-style skirt, the bottom layer of which stuck out like a white petticoat. All the better for wailing dramatic lyrics such as Save me from the nothing I’ve become. There’s no denying that the woman can sing. She’s like the Mariah Carey of modern rock. That also means she flutters around on those high notes a little too much, which, to me, sounds like a cat screeching. Plus, she does it on every song, and with her band jamming away on the power chords behind her, it makes for a rather redundant show. The high point in the set was a cover of “People Are Strange” by the Doors, on which Lee sat at a grand piano and necessarily used the lower range of her voice.

Doorz

Amazingly, there was only about a 20-minute delay between Evanescence and Korn, during which a faux documentary and accompanying video for the song “Devolution” played on the giant screens on either side of the stage. That’s devolution, as in a species (in this case the human one) evolving backwards, not Devo-lution as I originally read it. (Just imagine a bunch of Devo fans overtaking a Korn show.)

devo_thumb.jpg

Devoz

Among the evidence of devolution offered in the video were statements that high IQ families have 1.5 children, while low IQ families have five. I started to wonder how many of the noisy, toothless people around me were products of five-children families.

A few minutes before Korn emerged, a random guy on stage riled the crowd up with the announcement that it was about to happen. A bunch of people with bad tattoos rushed to the front of our section. Some of them tried to crash the mostly vacant VIP seats; others tried to jump into the other seated sections below.

They all roared when the kilted man – Jonathan Davis – finally came on. He wasn’t the only Korn member up there in a skirt. Another guy, with long-blond, possibly fake hair, donned a black dress that looked quite similar to Amy Lee’s. Davis prowled the stage, often ascending stairs to the riser that framed the band on three sides, spewing angsty lyrics about being misunderstood and abused. As casual Korn fans only, my boyfriend and I kept hoping we’d get bored and have an excuse to go home, but it was hard to tear our eyes from the stage. I found myself bobbing my head to the texturized music, eyes transfixed by Davis’ vampiric swagger. Having just reviewed the autobiography of original Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, who quit the band when he was saved, I was having all kinds of deep thoughts about this music I was really paying attention to for the first time.

And then, suddenly, something bounced off my boyfriends leg, and the people around us started freaking out. I turned around to see a girl holding her head in her hands. My boyfriend used his cell phone as a flashlight to figure out what hit her. It was a chewing tobacco can, launched from somewhere behind us. It had apparently ricocheted off her head and hit him on the leg. At least it wasn’t a bottle. In front of us, the band continued to rock. Davis gave a lengthy shout out to Korn's oldest fans and the band played the song “Faggots” off its 1994 release. Singing along seemed to make the girl behind us feel better about her head. [How do you spell relief from tobacco-can-related injuries? K-O-R-N. -- Ed.]

I was disappointed that Korn didn’t incorporate any of its videos into the performance, but the light show just about made up for it. The lights kept getting more complex as the show went on, until lasers eventually shot out from the stage. Eventually, Davis was cast in the middle of a giant blue pyramid. Thus began the greatest cover song of the entire night – Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II” – extra amped up and mean, thanks to Korn’s guitars and Davis’ gravelly voice.

As that was pretty much the end of the regular set, we took off in an effort to beat the rush. The sun was long gone, and I didn’t want to run into that Krangle guy in the dark.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: The last time I reviewed a Korn show, fans were not impressed by my take on it.

Random Detail: Right after we got inside the gates, some guy was talking loudly about how his buddy tried to bring a knife inside.

By the Way: I saw some dude snapping photos with a digital camera. A security person came up to him but she didn't make him take his camera all the way back to his car. She just made him get out of the VIP section he wasn't actually part of.

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