Accomplished photographer Steve Rose shares his archive of photos, going back five years ago when Korn last celebrated their seminal third album live.
There was a special kind of mania that swept through heavy culture during the late nineties. While the era would become forever linked with the rise of Nu metal, the reality was something a bit more revolutionary then just that of a fleeting trend.
The period ushered in a new generation of guitar-driven artistry that dared to go beyond the tropes of big hair and drab flannel – characterized by weighty riffs, bombastic bounce and an infectious energy that permeated well beyond the mosh pit. The soundtrack leading into the end of the millennia brought about innovative songwriting that sourced a broad swath of influences, resonating with an audience that yearned for something less one-dimensional, less cliche.
Among the handful of artists that truly changed the game during the era, Korn’s campaign for their third album, Follow the Leader was truly a watershed moment in heavy music history. The band had become a fixture on MTV, with the video for “Got the Life” in heavy rotation and even a dedicated Follow the Leader release special leading into the arrival of the album.
The album marked the heyday of in-store album signings, kicked off the era of music video cameos and was influential in integrating the aesthetic of the sound into the mainstream. Adidas shell toe sneakers and track jackets were en vogue largely because of the changing image of what the rockstar was supposed to look like.
Beyond the spectacle however, the songs were really the reason for such a seismic shift. Particularly with Follow the Leader, Korn had tapped into all of the angst and confrontation synonymous with cutting edge rock, all while making it look and sound… cool. The kind of authenticity that resonated in the band was what made the complete presentation unique and ultimately what played into their longevity – opting to lead, not follow.
An album with that kind of lasting impact is something that merits milestones. While there is a element of nostalgia that goes along with that, the commemoration speaks to shelf life of the album – how good it remains, rather than was.
This month, Follow the Leader marked it’s silver anniversary, celebrating 25 years of existence. The album propelled the band into a new stratosphere, cementing their rank as icons in the game. The album was also the catalyst for drastic change in the culture of heavy music, spawning new generations of rock musicians that took a different approach to guitar-driven music.
The impact of the album also segued into more historic breakthroughs for Korn, including the genre-blurring, forward thinking Family Values Tour which and Korn’s landmark performance the next year at Woodstock 99.
Back in 2018, Korn revisited the their ‘Kampaign’ days with a special three-day celebration dedicated to entirely to Follow the Leader. Marking then, two decades of the album, the band played three intimate shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, commemorating the seminal release and reveling in the shared moment with fans.
Five years since, we look back on the last live celebration of one of the most definitive albums in rock music history. Photographer Steve Rose captured Korn’s continued dominance that night, framing the significance of the milestone and how crucial the album remains to the culture to this very day.
See the exclusive gallery of images from Steve Rose below.