Review and Photos by Mike Bax
It was so nice to see the Molson Amphitheatre full of fans of heavy rock last night. In an era that seems to be showing diminishing returns on heavy rock arena tours, both Rob Zombie and Korn managed to pull an ample number of fans out of the Toronto woodwork and into our finest outdoor live music venue for a co-headlining evening of head-banging.
Things got off to a rocky start when openers In This Moment failed to make it over the border to perform. The announcement that they weren’t going to play came late enough that their merchandise was already set up for sale in the venue. I’m not sure what happened, as the band has performed in Toronto before numerous times. Word around the venue was Visa problems.
At around 7pm, a heavy-set fellow wearing a black table cloth around his head took the stage and started DJing. It wasn’t particularly great. If anything, it felt like one of the guys in the road crew drew the shortest straw backstage and got coughed up on stage to keep the crowd amused. With the venue doors opening at 5:30 and Rob Zombie not scheduled to perform until 8pm, there was a whole lot of not-much-to-do for 2.5 hours. I certainly would have preferred to watch Maria Brink strut about the Molson Amphitheatre stage in a bustier and hot pants as opposed to watching DJ Not-So-Good. Ah well. By the time 8pm rolled around and ‘The Last of the Demons Defeated’ into fanfare started up amidst some pulsing stage lights, fans quickly moved on. Rob Zombie, Ginger Fish, John 5 and Piggy D took the stage and pummeled the Toronto audience with a dizzying array of puppets and visuals as the band took them through a 30-year time warp of material new and old. The addition of the Tone‐Lōc song ‘Wild Thing’ four songs in had numerous fans in the venue laughing as they grooved along with the band.
During ‘More Human than Human’, Zombie jumped off the stage and into the crowd in the GA floor, letting a cluster of his fans get up close and personal as he performed some of the song right in their faces. A ginormous Satan puppet wandered about the stage behind Rob Zombie, John 5 and Piggy D during ‘Superbeast’, leering at them with a sinister snake-like tongue that seemed to twitch about in the flickering stage lights.
For this tour, John 5 performed in front of a massive Satan-o-Sonic cassette tape player as an already inserted “Dead City Radio” cassette played within. Piggy D performed perched in front of a massive retro style demon head poking its way over the risers at the front of the stage and staring down the audience in attendance for their show’s duration. Rob Zombie, John 5 and Piggy D each had matching Nosferatu microphone stands – arms cast apart wide like devilish ballerinas with each musician bellowing into the microphones mounted behind their heads. Throughout the set, as the lights pulsed and clouds of smoke billowed from beside and behind the band, fans lost their minds to the music. This wasn’t the best I’ve seen from Zombie, but it was far from the worst. Rob Zombie knows how to put on a quality rock and roll show, and attendees certainly got that in spades.
Zombie, an astute marketer with 30 years of touring/promoting behind him, dropped the trailer for his new film 31 right before his set-ender ’Dragula’. As stage hands dismantled Zombie’s stage and built up Korn’s – the numbers 10/21/16 could be seen glowing behind Ray Luzier’s massive drum kit – the release date for Korn’s much anticipated new album The Serenity of Suffering – an evening bookended by marketing. On the topic of marketing – the merchandise booth this evening was a thing of true glory – a veritable WALL of phenomenal T-shirt designs from both bands – one of the best displays of cool looking shirts that I personally have seen in a while.
Korn was truly on fire this evening, and Jonathan Davis, James “Munky” Shaffer, Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, Brian “Head” Welch, Ray Luzier and touring keyboardist Zac Baird all looked amazing – slender, vibrant, healthy and totally ready to rock. As Ray Luzier and Zac Baird took to the riser at the rear of the stage and delivered the intro notes to ‘Right Now’, Davis, Shaffer, Arvizu and Welch took to the front of the stage and burst into life while embodying the Return of the Dreads tour name in full – shaking their lengthy locks about with wild abandon as they worked their way through their songs. The combined might of Munky and Head on guitars is truly a force to be reckoned with in modern rock, and tonight was a prime example. Highlights this evening being ‘Did My Time’, ‘Y’All Want a Single’, ‘Shoots and Ladders’, ‘One’ (Metallica) and ‘Blind’. The crowd became notably more and more aggressive as Korn performed, with bodies, articles of clothing, beverage bottles and fluids all flying over the crowd and the pit as the band performed.
Jonathan Davis, a musician I don’t see smile very often, beamed at the audience a few times, thanking everyone for showing up and rocking out. Three songs in, Davis talked about the band being busy in the studio recently, and mentioned that they would perform a new song from their upcoming album. It was the recently previewed single ‘Rotting in Vain’ – which sounded amazing live this evening – and the studio version of that song totally bodes well for the album bringing elements of the best of all twenty years of Korn forward in its four-minute running time.
There were songs I would have loved to have heard this evening from both bands. But a quick look over these two set lists simply reaffirms that both are rife with selection of quality material, and they represented both band’s music catalogs well. There were numerous moments that got the hairs on my neck up – Zombie rocking it up in the crowd and Korn building the crescendo of Metallica’s ‘One’ into ‘Shoots and Ladders’, to name two obvious moments that more than delivered. If rock is really as dead as the internet seems to suggest week after week, neither of these bands are buying into that propaganda in the slightest. Return of the Dreads totally rocked. I’d see it again in a heartbeat if I could.
Intro (The Last of the Demons Defeated )
Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown
In the Age of the Consecrated Vampire We All Get High
Wild Thing (Tone‐Lōc cover)
Living Dead Girl
Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O.
More Human Than Human (White Zombie)
Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)
The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore
House of 1000 Corpses
Thunder Kiss ’65 (White Zombie)
Here to Stay
Rotting in Vain
Did My Time
Y’All Want a Single
Make Me Bad
Shoots and Ladders / One (Metallica)
Got the Life
Falling Away From Me
Freak on a Leash