Words and Photos by Kyle Bergfors
The Fever 333, featuring members of Letlive, The Chariot, and Night Verses, kicked off the show, or demonstration as they call their performances, delivering their unique combination of punk, metalcore, and hip hop laced with political and activist commentary both subtle and palpable. The argument can is that there isn’t a more perfect opening act then The Fever 333 due to their high-octane energy and reputation for delivering one of a kind performance, mostly due to simply you never know what Jason Butler (ex Letlive.), Aric Improta (Night Verses), and Stephen Harrison (ex-The Chariot) are going to do each show. Will Butler climb the scalding, will Harrison jump into the center of circle pit while continue to play, how many backflips will Improta do this set? The Fever 333 knows how to keep a crowd engaged regardless of how long their set is that night. Also, it can often be difficult or tricky to engage in meaningful dialogue and discussion on politics as a band while performing or even through music. The Fever 333 does a very good job at this, especially through imagery, such as Jason Butler opening up on stage in a jumpsuit and a covered hood offering a commentary on torture, especially the United States’s often controversial position on torture. The Fever 333 makes up for anything that may be lacking through sheer dedication to their live performance and delivering a one of a kind set for show-goers.
Having never seen Underoath at any point in time, I was pleasantly surprised to see Underoath as one of the openers for this tour providing me the opportunity to finally see one of the most iconic and well-known early 2000s metalcore band to come out of the “Warped Tour” circuit. Underoath both sounded and performed as if they never went on an eight-year hiatus leaving one of the biggest holes in the metalcore/Warped Tour genre we’ve seen, other than Chiodos and a couple of others. While I often chuckle when artists and bands say they’re breaking up only to return a few years later for whatever reason it may be, I’d be lying if I wasn’t somewhat glad Underoath decided to make their return in the hopes of eventually seeing them since I never had the opportunity to when pre-breakup. While I personally never really got into Underoath, their initial decision to call it quits didn’t really hit me hard or really hit me at all, but I understood and recognized the impact they left and still have on fans and the metalcore genre, which was on full display Wednesday night from the roar of the crowd when they hit the stage to the equally powerful roar when they left all celebrating and enjoying a band many of them grew up listening too and loving. Overall, there will be few bands that have had as large and profound of an impact on an entire genre as Underoath has, so I’m excited to see what they continue to accomplish in the future.
What I found very cool about this tour is how neither Korn nor Alice in Chains are promoted or billed as higher than each other, but rather as a double main event of a tour. Alice in Chains continues to both embolden and represent that heavy Seattle grunge/metal sound of the 1990s due to their heavy, gloomy riffs and instrumentals mixed with the more grudge style of tortured lyrics making Alice in Chains the perfect cross-over between the two genres that continues into today. While Alice in Chains struggled internally with drug addiction, personal losses, and even having to put the band on hiatus for a period of time, the loyalty from fans to Alice in Chains remained strong. Eventually, Alice in Chains would make a comeback in 2004 during a, at the time, on-off concert in support of a charity concert for the South Asia tsunami disaster of 2004. This experience proved to be so successful and enjoyable for the group that they decided to make it permanent consisting of a full schedule of tours between 2006 and 2007 with William DuVall (ex Comes with the Fall) as the replacement for original vocalist Staley who passed from a drug overdose in 2002. This would launch Alice in Chains back into the mainstream of rock and metal eventually releasing a comeback album in 2009 titled “Black Gives Way to Blue” awarding them two Grammy nominations and debuting at five on Billboard reestablishing Alice in Chains as force to be reckoned with. Without skipping a beat, Alice in Chains would release another full-length while touring full time proving that Alice in Chains is here to stay even during the darkest of times; which was on full display in Chicago with Alice in Chains keeping up with both the old and new material. To a new fan or someone who does not know of the backstory to Alice in Chains, neither the lineup change or the hiatus would be noticeable.
Alice in Chains
Last up was my personal favorite of the night, Korn. Korn’s self-titled debut album is still one my favorite ‘90s metal records and Korn is one of the bands that would have me dig further into the genre as a fan, therefore being able to finally see Korn was a highlight for me. Korn delivered a perfect set that both sounded amazing and looked visually stunning while performing tracks from all across their discography, even though I wish they would have played a few more tracks from their first two records. Regardless, Korn continues to put on some of the best live performances in metal even 25 years into their career, in addition to continuing to push genre boundaries and experiment with new approaches to music, yet remaining genuine to both themselves and their original style of nu-metal. For this is what ultimately separates Korn from many other artists. Korn was and is still not afraid to test new boundaries musically, which is what made them stand out in 1994. They are a pioneer of a genre that can sometimes become very analogous to each other or even elitist in its view on not straying too far off the beaten path resulting in little growth on pushing the genre to new places, new audience, and new sounds. According to The FADER, “There was an unexpected opening in the pop landscape, and Korn articulated generational coming-of-age angst for a claustrophobic, self-surveilled consciousness. Korn became the soundtrack for a generation’s arrival as a snarling, thrashing, systemically-restrained freak show while remaining, as described by The Ringer, “a genuine movement in a way bands cannot be now.” Ultimately, Korn is a band that can be found within a small, exclusive group of artists that will forever remain staples of the genre while pushing the genre to new places and engaging both old and new fans alike due to them “…represent[ing] a new archetype and radical innovation, their ability to transcend genre makes barriers seem irrelevant”. Korn isn’t going to fade away or disappear any time soon, so buckle in since I’m sure what Korn has planned for the future will continue to move the genre in a new direction.