Korn’s 2006 MTV Unplugged is a quintessential performance in 21st century rock history and a surprisingly graceful cap to Korn’s career up to that point. It was a pivotal moment for the group; with the departure of Head and David Silveria, the Bakersfield metal innovators were reduced to a three-piece band with only Jonathan Davis, Fieldy, and Munky remaining. So the trio went the acoustic route, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in stripped-down fashion before going big and bold at MTV Studios, where they played a collection of favorites old and new accompanied by various noteworthy musicians, some of whom would join the band later on tour.
The biggest moments were a surprise mash-up of “Make Me Bad” and The Cure’s “In Between Days” with an appearance from none other than Robert Smith himself, as well as Amy Lee of Evanescence joining David for mega-hit “Freak On a Leash”. Both Korn and Evanescence then immediately hit the road together, headlining the Family Values Tour in 2007 along with Atreyu, Flyleaf, Hellyeah, Trivium, Five Finger Death Punch, and several others. Adding to that already iconic lineup is the fact that Joey Jordison manned the drums for Korn every night. I’m bumming myself out just thinking about the fact that I wasn’t there.
2022 sees both Korn and Evanescence realigned, with the two having gone through their own sets of turbulent years and lineup changes to recently finding solid ground and climbing back to the top of the music hierarchy. Both bands have been selling out arenas on their own respective tours across the country, backed by strong new albums and an ongoing cultural revival of rock and metal in general that you certainly won’t find me complaining about. Evanescence's Fallen and Korn’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1 were some of the first CDs I ever had; I saw the former headline the 2012 Carnival of Madness and have seen Korn all over the Southeast.
The two are currently in the midst of a massive summer amphitheater tour and were joined by an inspired and exciting pair of acts opening for them on a recent stop at Charlotte, North Carolina’s PNC Music Pavilion. Dana Dentata began Wednesday's festivities nice and early at 5:30 in the afternoon. With most people having just gotten off work and still clamoring into the venue, Dentata successfully shocked, provoked and entertained with her combination of trap, electronica, nu metal, rap, and horror performance art. Whether they were loving it or hating it, there was no denying that all eyes were on her.
Dentata screamed, rapped, sang, and preached (“Kill your shitty boyfriends. Just kill them!”) across the stage clad in demented makeup, Mad Max-esque garb, armed with a microphone covered with Barbie dolls and backed onstage by Junkyard Jesse on exceptionally tight drums and Young Guv on a deliciously crunchy guitar. Playing a set mostly comprised of songs off her cathartic 2021 album pantychrist, Dentata more than left a strong impression on the rapidly growing crowd filling up the amphitheater.
Things then swung in a dramatically different yet still entirely fitting direction with Vegas rockers Palaye Royale taking the stage by storm next. “Holy shit, we’re on tour with Korn.” frontman Remington Leith said in disbelief. Dressed immaculately from head to toe, Leith and guitarists Sebastian Danzig and Andrew Martin and drummer Emerson Barrett danced, jumped around and brought the heat to match the blazing temperatures that cloudless evening. The party animals got the first mosh pits going and people off their feet, sweating it out with infectious, danceable, and hard hitting tunes that even got security smiling.
The sun began to set as Evanescence made their grand appearance, opening with The Bitter Truth banger “Broken Pieces Shine” before launching into over an hour of various hits from every album. The double impact of “Going Under” and “Call Me When You’re Sober” had fans singing at the top of their lungs with a passion that might’ve even surprised themselves. Later on, the iconic “Bring Me to Life” brought the house down. The night’s sudden and strong outpouring of emotion was not lost on Amy Lee, who showcased her otherworldly vocal talents with a wide smile and the occasional happy tears on her face.
“It means more than it used to mean!” she cheerfully cried out to the audience. “It’s all your fault! If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this crazy time it’s to appreciate the moment that we’re in. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, we don’t know if we have tomorrow, but we are right here, right now tonight. And this is a good night. Thank you for sharing it with us.” It’s very fun to watch everyone try their damndest to sing along to the soaring melodies of Evanescence songs, but the band themselves - with guitarists Troy McLawhorn and Tim McCord, drummer Will Hunt, and bassist and backing vocalist Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies - rocked hard enough to draw plenty of attention their way as well. Hunt’s onstage power and bashing of his drums in particular served as a loud reminder that Evanescence jams as hard and heavy as the best of them when it comes down to it.
Of course, once Korn arrived on the scene to plow through heavy hitting live staples like “Here to Stay”, “Falling Away From Me” and “Blind”, the place began to erupt. Davis howled with enthusiastic menace, Head (back in the band for nearly a decade now) slung himself and his guitar around while roaring into the mic on old school tracks like “Ball Tongue”, Munky (having returned to the tour that night after a few days away) got low and brought the heavy, Ray Luzier went positively feral on the drums all night, and Ra Díaz (currently filling in on the bass for Fieldy) spun and jumped around with refreshing energy and a devilish grin.
Korn never disappoints and their performance in Charlotte that night was both a great celebration of their tremendous career and a strong indicator of where they are now. “Let the Dark Do the Rest” off of this year’s Requiem felt transcendent in the live setting, with Davis wistfully telling the crowd how - in between songs about pain and hate and rage - he currently “just wants to see what the future holds”. I’ve seen Korn several times, from a literal bone-breaking set with Slipknot in 2014 to the intimate rawness of their self-titled tour to their huge arena tour earlier this year. It’s always a wild headbanging party, but this was the first time it felt downright joyful. As Amy Lee joined the band for “Freak On a Leash” to close out the night, the feeling in that amphitheater was nothing short of elation. Seems everyone there, onstage or out in the crowd, all needed this just as much as the person next to them.
Korn and Evanescence are currently touring across the U.S. with special guests Dana Dentata and P.O.D. Check out the remaining dates below and get tickets HERE.
9/9/22 - Salt Lake City, Utah @ Usana Amphitheater
9/10/22 - Nampa (Boise), Idaho @ Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater
9/13/22 - Spokane, Washington @ Spokane Arena
9/15/22 - Auburn, Washington @ White River Amphitheater
9/16/22 - Ridgefield, Washington @ RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheater