MOUNTAIN VIEW — Hard rock trailblazers of present and future came together for a mega-bill Wednesday night at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, capped off by co-headlining performances by Korn and Alice in Chains. The bill also featured Florida hardcore rockers Underoath and socially conscious aggression of upstarts Fever 333. The lineup was a generational showcase of the development of hard rock from the early ’90s through today, with a diversity of sound but also a shared collective influence. The Bay Area stop served as the final night of their summer tour.
Korn burst through the gates early as the massive curtain obscuring stage fell, opening with “Here to Stay” amid a backdrop of bright pulsing strobes as Jonathan Davis and company fiercely head-banged through the song’s powerful opening riff and driving rhythm. While the song came from 2002’s Untouchables, it makes a valid statement about the band’s staying power as a hard rock heavyweight. As one of the influencers of early nu-metal sound, Korn evolved with the times to keep its sound fresh while keeping the foundation of its trademark down-tuned, beat-heavy riffage intact.
“It was an amazing tour y’all,” Davis said early on in the set. “To be able to tour with those guys was way up there in my book.”
Korn was not only one of the era’s innovators, but one of its few survivors. The Bakersfield band then turned back the clock to its debut with “Blind” and “Divine.” Davis’ on stage presence began with restraint before turning into an all-out aggressive attack. He tightly clutched his microphone stand and head-banged as his shoulder-length hair flew around him. Davis’ vocal prowess still thrives on the dynamic range from quiet reservation to an aggressive bark. The band’s stage production was a mix of moving lighting rigs and screens that changed positions throughout the show to create depth.
Davis declared proudly that in October, Korn will be celebrating its 25th year. The band then transitioned to the present, mixing in a pair of newer tracks like 2016’s “Rotting in Vain” and “You’ll Never Find Me,” off the band’s 13th studio album, The Nothing, coming next week.
Ray Luzier, the band’s drummer since 2007, pounded out the driving beats. Bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu’s presence was felt through his down-tuned floor-rattling bass slaps—the foundation on which the band’s sound is built. Guitarists Brian “Head” Welch and James “Munky” Shaffer also showcased their signature down-tuned riffs on “Shoots and Ladders” and “Got the Life.” That guitar sound was influential for countless bands that followed. Davis pumped up the crowd with a set of bagpipes on before the band launched into “Shoots and Ladders” and infused some of Metallica’s “One” into the outro.
The latter part of the set included some surprises, including a sort of drum battle between Luzier and Fever 333’s Aric Improta. The band continued with a pair of songs from 1999’s Issues with “Make Me Bad” and “Somebody Someone,” before closing with one of its earliest smashes, “Freak On a Leash.”
Korn returned for an extended encore featuring classic cuts like the ethereal “4U” and the metallic “Twist” before closing with the pounding “Coming Undone” and “Falling Away From Me.”
Nineties grunge heroes Alice in Chains also played a 75-minute set, just like Korn. The band has been going strong since its rebirth in 2006, adding lead singer William DuVall following the death of original vocalist Layne Staley. DuVall has completely settled in the role.
Opening with a haunting piano intro, Alice in Chains launched into the slick harmonies of “Angry Chair.” DuVall has his own vocal style but when he locked in with guitarist Jerry Cantrell, the results were classic AIC. The band followed up with another grunge classic, “Man in the Box,” with DuVall’s impressive vocal range matching Cantrell’s blues-soaked grunge.
The band weaved naturally between the newer DuVall material, mixing in “Check My Brain,” before transitioning to “Again” and “Them Bones” with the help of Korn’s Munky. They followed that with “Dam That River” before hitting a new cut, the driving “Rainier Fog.”
Along with the heavy rock, Alice in Chains is also known for its more nuanced acoustic rhythms, which they showcased with “No Excuses” and “Nutshell.” The latter song played to a sea of illuminated cell phones and lights. Following moody rocker “It Ain’t Like That” and “We Die Young,” the band closed out with classics “Would?” and “Rooster.”
Like Alice in Chains, Underoath has also experienced an extended hiatus before reforming in 2015. The Florida hardcore band played a punishing 40-minute set, offering up some of the heaviest tunes of the night. Led by the dual vocal attack of Spencer Chamberlain and drummer Aaron Gillespie, the band powered through nine mostly newer songs from Erase Me, including “On My Teeth” and “Rapture,” as well as older material like “Breathing In a New Mentality.”
The band slowed the pace but kept the energy for heavy mid-tempo rocker “ihateit,” with Chamberlain and Gillespie adeptly playing off each other’s vocals in harmony. Chamberlain got up close and personal with the Shoreline crowd on “Writing on the Walls” before closing out with the heavy, percussion-driven “Sink With You.”
Fever 333 opened the show and used every moment of its aggressive 30-minute set. The band’s performance recalled Rage Against the Machine, with a politically and socially conscious message over hard rock and metal, some rap and flourishes of electronica.
Lead singer Jason Aalon Butler walked onto the stage hooded, like a prisoner. At one point, he sang from the club boxes at the top of Shoreline’s lower level and was joined by guitarist Stephen Harrison atop the seats of the lower concourse.
Opening with “Burn It,” the band ripped through “We’re Coming In” and “One Of Us” before a beatbox and drum solo mashup, with Butler and drummer Aric Improta. The band closed with “The Innocent” and “Hunting Season.”
Correction: This story originally included an incorrect song title performed by Alice in Chains. The correct song was “It Ain’t Like That.”