A night of reunions

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By ANDY LYONS (digitalBURG, St. Louis) – Reunions are always an exciting time. There were multiple reunions Saturday, May 25 at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis.
The fathers of nu-metal, Korn, had reunited with Brian “Head” Welch, who had been on hiatus since February 2005. I was having a reunion of my own at this concert. I was reuniting with two of my friends from my hometown of Hannibal, Mo., in what would be a memorable night and one of my top five favorite concerts.
As I approached the venue, I was trading phone calls with my friend Paul. He and I have seen numerous concerts together. His wife Andrea and our friend Marc were also with him for the concert. Paul, Marc and I have seen several concerts together, including the Projekt Revolution Tour in 2004 which featured Snoop Dogg, Korn and Linkin Park at the Riverport Amphitheater in St. Louis, and the Welcome to the Family tour in 2011 which featured Bullet for My Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold at the inTrust Bank Center in Wichita, Kan.
We were pressed for time and after a bathroom break we headed to our seats. Yes, seats. Despite obtaining pre-sale access to tickets for the show, we were forced to get seats because there is no general admission area at the Peabody. It was the first time since Ozzfest 2006 that Paul and I had to get seats. The reason we did before was because Andrea was pregnant with their son.
The show began with Love & Death, Welch’s band. Welch left Korn in 2005 to battle addiction, and his trials echo in the lyrics of the band’s music. They have a heavy metal sound, with Welch blending screaming and melody in the vocals. He was one of the two guitar parts in Korn, and definitely did some work that night. The lead guitar player, 18-year-old J.R. Bareis, was quite impressive. They started off a little slow, but through their set I was more and more impressed with the band. They performed a metal rendition of “Whip It,” the 1980 hit by new wave legends Devo.
Before the song “Chemicals,” Welch spoke on his battles with substance abuse. He said, “It’s not over until you and him,” and pointed straight up, “decide it is.” Early in the set, he too noticed how peculiar the seating arrangement was. He shook his head as he asked the crowd, “No pit at a Korn show?”
Next up was Device, the side project of Disturbed frontman David Draiman. I thought it was odd that they were playing without a bass player. Their first album, which was self-titled, features a lot of collaborations with artists across the hard rock genre so I was expecting collaborations with the other bands on the bill. It wasn’t so.
I was a bit disappointed with the performance. Most of the songs sound extremely similar to Disturbed. Draiman’s vocal delivery is very unique. Guitarist Geno Lombardo was decent at best. The most impressive part of their performance was drummer Will Hunt, who has been a part of Evanescence and Dark New Day. He was phenomenal. The best song they performed was a cover of Lita Ford’s “Close My Eyes Forever.”
I’ve seen Disturbed multiple times and I can say I didn’t care for them live, so perhaps my judgment was a bit clouded. However, Draiman spent a good amount of time telling the crowd to get out of their seats and get their money’s worth. When they didn’t respond, he made it a point to call out people and entice them in the middle school manner, referring to them as “pussies” and other name-calling. It got to the point where he admitted that he knew we were there to see Korn and might as well enjoy ourselves.
Finally it was time for Korn. I have seen them more than 10 times, and every time they have put on a great show. This night was no exception. Seeing them play with Welch for the first time in over eight years was stunning. As they took the stage, the crowd was on their feet, and I had tears in my eyes. They played a lot of songs from their first three albums, including multiple I had never seen before.
At one point the other guitarist, James “Munky” Shaffer, went to the microphone and said, “Brian Welch everybody,” eliciting cheers from the crowd. Later in the show, lead singer Jonathan Davis made mention as well and again received a round of applause.
It was definitely different being in seats. The crowd was a lot more mellow than it usually is at metal concerts. The fans in attendance ranged in ages and genders, and especially attire. Before Korn went on I went outside for a cigarette and spent some time in the throng waiting for them to take the stage. Men in T-shirts emblazoned in band insignias. A girl wearing knee-high fur boots, a short, striped one-piece skirt and yellow dreadlocks just passed her shoulders. So, to say the crowd varied would be an understatement.
Since Korn is a band that I grew up listening to, they have a special place in my heart. It was no exception seeing them reunited with their former guitarist while I was reuniting with friends that I see maybe once a year. It was really amazing. There are a lot of similarities in the way that the band has grown and changed, matured really, and so have we.
The point was really driven home after the show when the members of Korn were tossing picks and other gear to members of the crowd, those in front next to the stage in particular. I turned to Marc and said, “Man, I wish we were up there!” He responded with, “It doesn’t even matter.”
These experiences, although few and far between, are some of the best. The point, at least the way I understood it, was that the four of us were there together having an amazing time. The memorabilia the band hands out doesn’t matter, just that simple fact. Four friends listening to the music they love and enjoying not only it, but that synergy of everything coming together.
Andy Lyons is the incoming managing editor for the Muleskinner at the University of Central Missouri where he is studying journalism and creative writing. Visit his blog at marchionofchaos.wordpress.com.