KORN & ENTOMBED, Helsinki Ice Hall, July 6, 2009
The number one reason I chose to attend this gig, was that Pain was listed as a warm-up act.Pain and Entombed opening for Korn?Sounded unlikely, and therefore, cool.To my dismay, Pain’s announced cancellation occurred just days after my announced accreditation.Still, didn’t sound like a bad evening after all, and no other events were overlapping it on this summer Monday.
Evidently, some guy in the audience ALSO thought it was a good idea to go, and promptly passed out, and was carried out of the nearly empty hall more than a half hour before Entombed even hit the stage.Nice job, guy.Nor was it especially easy to get drunk during this event, as there was nowhere within viewing range of the stage where you could stand with a beer.Only on the outer rim of the ice hall was a refreshments stand, and an enclosed bar, where you could drink and pretend you didn’t pay over 40€ for the gig that you won’t be able to see, or 6€ for the draft.
By the time Entombed were making their way to the stage, I was hoping that my perception of the audience was skewed, or that more viewers would start entering the hall instead of standing outside smoking.The hall was already the smallest ice stadium I’d ever seen, so I expected it to fill up nicely, and for Korn to give Entombed more fans.Of those couple hundred standing nearest the stage, and an equal amount sitting in side-facing pews with a seemingly weak view of the stage, between many and most were dressed in Korn gear.
Entombed’s bassist comes to the stage in an appropriate Rotten Sound shirt, and vocalist L-G Petrov, known by some to have some Finnish roots, swaggers to the mic and yells “terve” and “no niin!”, though his collection of Finnish phrases seemed to be limited to not much broader phrases, and otherwise reverted to English.After beginning with “Serpent Saints”, the opening track of their newest record, Petrov asks the puzzled-looking crowd if they even know who they are.With the answer clearly being ‘nope’, he mentions their first album having come out in ’91, and if anyone there was born after then.Unsurprisingly, a lot of shouting followed.A nice idea to mix these two genre-leading groups in one event, but I’d be surprised if Entombed grew their fanbase by more than a handful that night.Nor was much of their own crowd there.A couple Entombed shirts were being sported, and a few headbanger sorts were yelling along to the words, but the ticket prices were not within the reasonable range of headbanger prices.
Visually, their gig was a bit bare.There were no stagelights, which seemed inappropriate in this large of a venue, and made the band guys look particularly unimportant and unloved on the barely lit stage.They’re really nothing to look at anyway, with their increasing baldness and frightening aginess.Unless you want to watch the singer, as he wipes shit from his nose all over his sleeves, and then shooting snot rockets straight into the air and sometimes catching them in his mouth.While in the photopit, I had the unique opportunity of even being able to smell him, as every time he approached and I would prepare to take a photo, I noticed a whiff of something putrid attacking my nostrils.But, as the saying goes… Some call it disgusting, I call it DEATH METAL!
As far as the set goes, it wasn’t really as death metal as it could have been, including much more of their mid-career death-and-roll, as to be less offensive to the Korn kids, I suppose.Older songs were also represented, like “Revel in Flesh” from their debut, and “Stranger Aeons”, but the majority were from “Wolverine Blues.” By the time they got to “Chief Rebel Angel,” it seemed that some heads in the audience were starting to bang, and the spirit of the room had lifted.Especially for one quite tall muscular-armed guy near the front, who had been banging his fists throughout the whole gig, with two much smaller girls standing behind him, who looked as though at any point were going to be smashed in their heads by his elbows.Anyway, the sound was quite decent, even without an audience to soak up the soundwaves, although it was a bit bassy, and at times it would have been welcome to have a second guitar player on stage, as certain songs felt a little empty.Towards the end, L-G dedicated a song to the Korn guys, who he claimed were really drunk backstage, and that, “I’m really drunk too, thanks to those guys!” Finally, they ended the set with the “Wolverine Blues” title track.Arguably, their 40 minutes were not quite worth the ticket price if you were only there to see Entombed, but it was a good set nonetheless.
Finally, and to obnoxiously loud female fanfare, Korn slowly made their way to the stage, with the “supporting” members entering first and being quite hidden in the back surrounded by amps, and followed by the bands’ original crew, Munky, Fieldy, and Mr. Jonathan Davis.The hall had grown impressively more filled, possibly even breaking half capacity, after everyone crawled in from the drinking and smoking areas.Wild screams and jumping fans surrounded us, and suddenly, as though someone had just helicoptered in a lighting specialist, the lights were in full use, and more dramatic than what you see at a place like Tavastia or such.
In actuality, Korn didn’t look at all drunk. I guess that’s what it’s like to be professional drinkers.Particularly their newest member, drummer Ray Luzier, looked to be in full sobriety, and was more skillful and entertaining than a circus clown.He twiddled his sticks around like a pro, and made cymbals all over the world dance for him.Seriously, he was that good.Then, probably a couple dozen times throughout the set, he’d launch one of his sticks high into the air amidst playing, and would catch it and continue playing as though nothing had even happened.Who woulda knew Korn had such a brilliantly talented drummer?He was totally energetic, too, and made all of the songs look more complicated than they sounded.
Though most of the rest of the band were entirely uninteresting to watch, Jonathan Davis seemed to have retained his manic stage persona, and gave a good show as well.His microphone stand, which was unsheathed just before he entered the stage, was a shiny metal-crafted woman’s figure, with pointy silvery titties facing the crowd, and he would pull the stand nearer to him as he dramatically and heartfully (and nasally) belted out the tunes.His often imitated style of song and dance truly belonged to him that night.
Korn were, in general, impressive beyond expectation.Though never having been personally a fan of theirs or having listened to any of their records, I found myself recognizing over half of the songs, usually within the first 3 notes of the opening catchy riffs – those same riffs that I found irritating when I’d hear them on the radio or MTV far too often – only this time, I found them quite moving.Also mixed into the setlist were some brief cover moments of, for example “We Will Rock You” and Metallica’s “One”, which I would have seriously loved to have continued to the end.Then there was also the short moment of Davis playing bagpipes that was kinda cool, but seriously brief.Still, a nicely varied set kept me watching to the end.
The moments after the encore were perhaps the best, and definitely the most bizarre.Finland are obviously no strangers of this American force of nature, and before the band returned to the stage to continue, nearly the whole standing section of the crowd was poised in positions like rabbits taking a poop, ready to come up bouncing during the right moment of their classic hit “Blind”, as Jonathan growls “Are You Ready!” Yeah, it’s definitely cool when a band can bring out that kind of a reaction in their fanbase, and I’ve got to admit that, although I didn’t want to like them, I surely enjoyed the show. While I still have no intention of rushing out to buy the records, they were definitely worth witnessing live.