When the normally stoic security staff is head banging at Welcome to Rockville, it's a good sign


It’s a reliable indicator that the talent’s doing something right when the normally stoic security staff is head banging along to the music.

Nu metal powerhouse Korn had the entire Welcome to Rockville audience and staff bobbing their heads and singing along during its closing performance of the festival April 27. It’s hard not to; the band’s sound is infectious.

If you don’t happen to be a genre-snob and are wondering about the funky spelling, don’t open that Google tab — here’s the skinny:

Nu metal is a blend of hip-hop style verses over heavily distorted, temper-tantrum guitar riffs that give way to big-sounding choruses (see early Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot and early Deftones) that was popular during the turn of the century.

Korn uses that recipe, but it’s not what the California-based five-piece has staked its reputation on. It’s those wall-of-sound breakdowns on down-tuned, seven-string guitars that assault the senses while vocalist Jonathan Davis flings his dreads around and screams charming one-liners like “Get the fuck out of my face” and “Shut the fuck up, yeah.”

So, if you’re an impressionable teen looking for a noisy group that just, like, gets you, welcome to your not-so-new favorite band. If Korn already caught your ear during the early years and you’re now a functioning adult saddled with real-world responsibilities, rest assured that your guilty pleasure aged well. Korn has stayed true to its sound, and the Rockville crowd was happy it did.

After a few seconds of ambient feedback and guitar noise, Korn stormed the stage with the crowd-pleasing “Falling Away From Me,” which features one of the heaviest riffs in the band’s catalogue.

It followed that up with “Got The Life,” another classic from the band’s repertoire that features prominent dance grooves with Davis and Co. shimmying and romping about the stage between breakdowns.

Yes, there were some newer tracks that die-hards of the band might consider a misstep. But the band’s energy carried the audience’s attention through them. “Get Up,” the band’s one-song collaboration with Skrillex that alienated many followers, actually sounded pretty solid live.

A few songs into the set, one audience member passed up a kilt, which Davis took, showed off to the crowd then passed to a stage-hand. This got a huge reaction from fans and seemed like an inside joke I wasn’t privy to until Davis came back out with bagpipes to play the lead-in of “Shoots and Ladders.” He didn't don the kilt when he returned with the bagpipes.

Near the end of the set, Davis told the audience that they had a long love affair with Jacksonville. The band refused to play another note until they got a “good down-home Southern Jacksonville fucking welcome,” which the audience promptly delivered.

“This town gave me the worst tattoo I’ve ever had,” Davis said, lifting up his shirt and exposing his lower back to the audience.

“We’ve used to play at a place called the Milk Bar,” he said. “Maybe you’ve heard of it.”

Despite Korn’s unfaltering energy throughout their hour-long set, it the ending felt abrupt. There wasn’t a feeling of finality to it. We were just jamming out to another solid song, and at the end of that, the band said “thank you” and set their instruments aside. Most of the crowd took that adieu with a grain of salt, expecting big encore in a few minutes.

“They’ll do this like three times before they’re finished,” an audience member said.

But it didn’t come. After several minutes of shouting for an encore that led into silent hesitation to leave, the audience eventually filed out of the littered and worn park grounds. Still, Korn left the remaining inhabitants of Rockville with a solid set that delivered heavy-hitting nostalgia.

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