Rob Zombie was the center point of the evening, bringing his own particular blend of trailer park/horror show shenanigans.
Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, St. Louis
Rob Zombie, Korn, and In This Moment picked an appropriately steamy night to bring their pyro-junkie mega-show to St. Louis. However, if there is one group of music fans that couldn’t care less about sweating to death while being pummeled by ear-shattering jams, it’s metal fans. Indeed, even the artists commented on how hot it was onstage at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, known affectionately by locals as the Sweat Box.
Show opener In This Moment, led by powerhouse vocalist Maria Brink, won the crowd over almost immediately with its psycho-glam theatrics and musically vicious brand of melodic hard rock. Brink spent most of her time on a platform center stage, flanked by two faceless female associates who, despite looking like they stepped right out of The Purge movies, gyrated in unison with a near-Olympic level of precision. Between songs, Brink would disappear with her ladies into a tent set up behind them, only to reemerge moments later wearing a completely different set of outfits. The effect was Destiny’s Child by way of Rosemary’s Baby, and as weird as that sounds, it worked quite well.
Whether she was sitting down and belting out tunes like a Suicide Girl in a mad cabaret, or standing at a podium singing paeans of self-empowerment, Brink was the center of attention and she absolutely earned the spotlight, with her more Manson-than-Manson sense of stagecraft. The music itself was expertly performed, due in no small part to cofounder and guitarist Chris Howorth, who kept everything on track while Brink wreaked havoc. While a 6:40 p.m. start usually sees opening bands playing to empty seats, the audience was ready to roll as In This Moment played highlights like “Whore” and the probably-not-approved-by-Mattel “Sex Metal Barbie.”
From leading White Zombie through the Beavis and Butthead ’90s, to a successful career as a solo artist and filmmaker, Rob Zombie was the center point of the evening, bringing his own particular blend of trailer park/horror show shenanigans. Resplendent in a gold jacket and matching flared slacks, Zombie and his band tore through a set list of classic WZ tracks, new album cuts, and occasionally sprinkled-in surprises, like their twist on Ton-Loc’s “Wild Thing” and their cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band.”
Standing in front of a giant boom box on stage right, guitarist John 5 proved to be the musical highlight of the evening, showing his impressive skills both as a technical player, as well as a musician of great restraint, playing exactly what the songs needed, and kicking them into overdrive when the time came to take things up a notch. He’s one of the best guitarists in rock, and a perfect foil for Zombie’s showmanship.
After showing a trailer for his upcoming horror film 31, Zombie and his band rocketed through a fierce version of “Dragula” before giving up the stage to the evening’s closer: nu-metal mainstays Korn.
With a new album due out in October and a 25-year deep discography, Korn had a wealth of old and new material to draw from, and their high-intensity style has always been better represented live. Having to follow the highwire theatrics of the previous two acts proved to be a rough mountain to climb for the band, and the comparatively sparse stage show they presented probably did them no favors with those members of the gathered throng afflicted with attention deficit disorder.
Nevertheless, the band admirably let the music do the talking, with bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu and drummer Ray Luzier slamming home the trademark rhythms that fuel “Here to Stay,” “Freak on a Leash,” and brand-new track “Rotting in Vain.” The band is well served by the return of Brian “Head” Welch, whose guitars compliment fellow six-stringer James “Munky” Shaffer so well. Mercifully keeping his kooky government conspiracy theories back in the tour bus, vocalist Jonathan Davis still wears his rage on his sleeve—even while sporting a man skirt, which, to be honest, kind of made him look like a cool alterna-metal Highlander. No small feat. | Jim Ousley