NEW YORK — Hard-rock heavyweights Korn recruited the services
of a choir and police bagpipe band in debuting their new rapless but
moody album Monday night at the storied Apollo Theatre in Harlem.
Accompanied by an eight-member choir and, briefly, by a 13-piece New York
City Police Department Celtic band, Korn blasted, in running order, through
the 16 songs that make up their fourth album, Issues, which was
released Nov. 16. Singer Jonathan Davis, dressed in a Scottish kilt, looked
delirious at times as he sang his lyrics for the crowd of about 1,400.
Missing were the hip-hop collaborations and mellower grooves of the band’s
previous album, Follow the Leader. That disc established Korn as
one of rock’s most popular acts. The Apollo Theatre show was broadcast
on U.S. and international radio stations.
“The album right before this, it was much more hip-hop,” 16-year-old
Patrick Sines of Brooklyn, N.Y., said. “This one, it’s like I sense the
agony. The music is intense.”
The stage at the Apollo, a legendary venue known as a premier rhythm &
blues showcase for rising and established stars, was decorated with
candelabra, creating a mood like something out of a horror flick. Colored
lights — navy blue, purple, green, burnt orange — surrounded
a backdrop of two red Oriental rugs and a small red sofa. The stage also
featured several lava lamps.
Korn’s new music touched on agony and anger. There were eerie, haunted-house
guitar sounds and quiet wails on the verses and crashing metal riffs and
screams on the choruses. Several songs, including “4 U,” “It’s Gonna Go
Away” and “Am I Going Crazy,” found Davis alone onstage, backed only by
Gothic, trip-hop beats and his choir.
The performance opened with “Dead,” backed only by bagpipes and vocals.
Davis led the Celtic band as it romped through the droning but uptempo
From there, Davis’ bandmates — bassist Reg “Fieldy” Arvizu, guitarists
Munky and Head and drummer David Silveria — emerged from the darkness
at the rear of the stage. With Arvizu leading the charge, the band next
played the first Issues single, the thrashing “Falling Away From
excerpt). Arvizu, dressed in a blue plaid shirt, a white derby
and a large gold chain, spun in place and rocked wildly as the song
On a few songs, the album uses electronic drum effects, which Silveria
re-created during the concert. Munky and Head, as is their custom, alternated
between minimal fuzz and chimes and thick, loud guitar licks.
The night’s clear star, though, was Davis, who at times seemed to find
a spiritual connection with impassioned Who frontman, Roger Daltrey. As
Daltrey often does, Davis moved and contorted his face as he sang. He
jumped around and at points lost himself in the music. He even tipped
his head back to scream into the microphone, a Daltrey trademark.
The band’s new lyrics are as provocative as they are evocative, and Davis
delivered them mostly with conviction. “Your feelings I can’t help but
break them/ I’m sorry I don’t feel the same/ My heart inside is constantly
hating/ I’m sorry I just throw you away,” he sang on “Trash” (RealAudio
excerpt), the album’s third song. “Sometimes I wish I could be
strong like you,” Davis shouted out 10 songs later on the ironic “Let’s
Get This Party Started” (RealAudio
The attending fans — overwhelmingly white in a venue known for its
African-American performers — danced with Davis, often jumping and
rocking in unison. The fans stayed in their seats for 10 minutes after
the band closed with “Dirty,” convinced an encore would come.
It never did. But no one seemed to complain.
Several fans said Issues marks a return to the band’s affinity for
murky heavy metal and often-indecipherable, angry vocals, which they used
on their first two albums, the 1995 self-titled debut and 1996’s Life
Neither Davis nor the other bandmembers acknowledged the crowd during
their performance, but they waved to the audience as they walked offstage.
“It was very sludgy, a lot slower. But it was slammin’,” Amy Sciaretto,
24, of New Jersey said.
“It had a spiritual feeling to it, especially with the candles,” said
Beth Litwak, a 15-year-old fan from Rockland County, N.Y.
Manhattan resident Jennifer Vinnick, 26, said she was expecting a much
heavier sound. But she admired the band’s creativity, she added.
“They deviate from the typical hardcore band,” she said. “They make it
their own thing.”