It was a perfect Friday evening in Los Angeles – sunny and 75 degrees – and I headed to the Banc of California Stadium for a phenomenal line-up: Helmet, Korn and System of a Down. I had been waiting months (well, years!) for this show and my anticipation was high!
System of a Down and Korn kicked off this co-headlining tour earlier in the week, which they actually started in 2021, but had to reschedule some dates due to COVID. Not only were the newly-common spikes and surges of the virus affecting tours, but members of both bands had been diagnosed with COVID.
The crowd was in a jubilant mood and the scent of hot dogs wrapped in bacon wafted through the air. Everyone seemed so thrilled to be there; the vibe felt electric around me.
While entry into the stadium took longer than usual, it was well worth the wait. Helmet came out with guns blazing and absolutely dominated the stage. Their heavy, intense sound permeated the stadium and I had a hard time shooting photos since I was dancing so much. Helmet played a great mix of songs: from “Give It” and “Tic,” to “Unsung” and “Wilma’s Rainbow” and then “Just Another Victim” and “In the Meantime.” It was an excellent start to the evening. (Full disclosure: Russian Circles opened the evening, but the early start time and delay getting into the venue caused me to miss them).
After a brief break, the kings of nu-metal, Korn, took the stage in their typical bad-ass fashion. The black cloth covering Jonathan Davis’ silver H.R. Giger mic stand was ripped off at the last minute, allowing it to glisten under the lighting. Ray Luzier has the most incredible drum kit for this tour, complete with a creepy doll hanging from the front. When the music started, Munky and Head thrashed their dreads and fired up the crowd. Davis, wearing his perfect black nail polish, hit every note and sung all of the crowd favorites.
Korn started off with “Here to Stay” and ripped through “Falling Away From Me” and “Shoots and Ladders,” which had a bit of Metallica’s “One” blended in. Through “Got the Life” and “Coming Undone” (which had a snippet of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” included), Korn blasted the doors off with their signature bass sound. “Y’All Want a Single” and “Freak on a Leash” had the crowd flipping out and they wrapped it up with an “A.D.I.D.A.S.” tease followed by “Blind.”
In 2019, Korn released their album, “The Nothing,” but their plans to tour in support (with Faith No More) were cut off by the pandemic. They intended to tour in 2021, and did get some dates done, but members caught COVID and various musician friends had to step in to help perform live.
Korn was able to use the pandemic to create their 14th album, “Requiem,” which was released the same day as this show. It all sounded fantastic and next month, they will hit the road to promote it.
It was now time for System of a Down, and after the large black curtain covering the stage dropped to the ground, the band leapt onto the stage. The stadium erupted in appreciation and they played hits that had the crowd singing along – loudly!
System of a Down did not disappoint! They tore through 27 songs, which kicked off with “X.” Pretty much every favorite track was there: “Prison Song,” “Cigaro,” “B.Y.O.B.,” “Psycho,” of course “Chop Suey!,” and “ATWA.” They wrapped up the show with “Aerials,” “Toxicity,” and “Sugar.”
Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, and John Dolmayan totally nailed it and the fans went ballistic. The staging and lights were amazing and it was so good to finally have them back in L.A.! They now have some time to rest and prepare for what comes next – whatever that may be.
SOAD released two new songs in 2020 (“Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz”), but that may be the end of it. At the time, Malakian said he does not see the band making new music anytime soon, and the two songs were a “one-off kind of thing.” The band continues with their humanitarian efforts, and that seems to be their main focus as this time. Thankfully though, they were able to give us this amazing show – finally!