LOS ANGELES — Take away the wives and kids on the side of the stage, the Xbox-sponsored Korn karaoke between sets and a couple of sensitive Fred Durst comments, and the second night of the Back 2 Basics Tour really did recall the good old days.
Korn and Limp Bizkit, who are playing smaller venues together like the bands did in the late-’90s, both brought bare-bones stages and set lists crammed with older material to the sold-out Wiltern LG show on Tuesday. “Back 2 Basics” did not mean “back to the beginning,” though, as the nü-metal trailblazers each only played a few songs from their first albums, despite the crowd’s thunderous reaction to tunes like Korn’s “Blind” and Bizkit’s “Counterfeit.”
In the headlining slot, Korn were fortunate enough to follow quite possibly the worst act to ever take that stage. No, not Limp Bizkit, but three fans who competed for a free Xbox by doing a karaoke rendition of “Freak on Leash.” As odd as it looked, there was something cool about Jonathan Davis sitting center stage in a La-Z-Boy minutes before Korn’s set, playing a fan on an Xbox, but the karaoke seemed a stretch for the anxious audience.
Regardless, once a simple slideshow of Korn fans was finished and the band took the stage for the intense opener “Right Now,” all cheese was forgotten. “I f—ing hate you,” Davis repeatedly screamed at the single’s climax. “Shut up!” the fans sang back.
“Break Some Off,” the second song, suffered a setback when guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer slipped and fell hard, but it only added to his aggression in ripping through the following tune, “Got the Life.”
After blasting through the three brutal screamers, Davis got to show a little vocal range on “Ball Tongue” before going back to another fist-pumping single, “Here to Stay.”
“Let’s go, Los Angeles,” Davis said as bassist Fieldy soloed into a new song, as he so often did Tuesday. Behind the band, a screen occasionally flashed lyrics, including verses to the next couple of tracks, “It’s On” and “Did My Time.”
After “Helmet in the Bush,” just when the aggressive songs were starting to run together, Brian “Head” Welch broke into the guitar part to the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” for a few seconds, before segueing into “Falling Away From Me.”
Drummer David Silveria, who had been striking model-like poses all night, then took over the show, putting a little beat together that eventually became the unmistakable cymbal intro to “Blind,” which got the crowd moving more than any other song Tuesday night.
Davis returned alone for the encore, playing the bagpipes and stomping on the stage to up the applause. Rather than go into live favorite “Shoots and Ladders” though, the band played the lesser known “Let’s Do This Now” and “My Gift to You.” The song selection left some taking a seat, but Davis was too into the song to notice. By the end, as he screamed, “Can you feel the pain,” the singer fell to the ground and flapped around like a fish fighting to breathe.
“Freak on a Leash” was the grand finale, and seeing Davis get back on his feet and even eventually smile as the crowd sang along to every word more than made up for the earlier rendition of the song by the karaoke singers.
Before Korn, Limp Bizkit took the stage as a welcoming message from the voice that opens the band’s albums, including the most recent, Results May Vary, played.
The rap-rockers then launched into “Re-entry,” but the song was cut short when the black stage curtain never fell. A minute into the next number, “My Generation,” it finally did, revealing something Limp Bizkit fans have never seen before: Durst with a mohawk.
Showing off his new hairdo, Durst stepped into the crowd for a deafening rendition of “Break Stuff,” as well as the first part of “Take It Home.”
“I just want to say without Korn we would not be here today,” Durst said, welcoming the crowd. “We’re here to pay respect to the band that changed metal.”
“Hold up,” he then rapped, beginning “Gimme the Mic,” which featured a few shining turntable additions from DJ Lethal. After telling the audience how much better they were than the Las Vegas fans at the tour opener the night before, Durst led the band into “Take a Look Around,” one of several songs Limp played featuring lines about hating (“I know why you want to hate me!”).
“I wrote this song about being myself and I just want you to be yourself,” Durst said next, leading into “My Way,” during which he brought up two fans to dance along.
Midway through their set, Bizkit stunned the theater with a spot-on cover of Nirvana’s “You Know You’re Right” that saw Durst nail the song’s vocals. “Give it up for Nirvana, those guys are the sh–,” he said.
Bassist Sam Rivers and drummer John Otto then worked up a funky groove that turned into “Nookie,” a crowd favorite Durst peppered with additional lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.”
Limp extended most of their older songs by at least a couple minutes, and then shortened the Results May Vary material, with the exception of “Eat You Alive” and “Behind Blue Eyes.” For the Who cover, only Durst and Lethal remained onstage, with Durst crooning along to a recorded track Lethal continually tweaked.
“This is about my life,” Durst said, introducing “Almost Over,” which the band performed below a giant image of the singer’s face — the Results May Vary cover — splashed up on a screen behind the stage.
Toward the end of “Counterfeit,” which included some stellar guitar work from Mike Smith, Durst dove into the crowd, where he stayed for Limp’s finale, their cover of George Michael’s “Faith.” With Durst screaming from the middle of the venue, fans went into a frenzy around him, singing relentlessly to the ’80s hit. It was a bit of karaoke that worked.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.