Review and Pix: Korn, Alice In Chains, and Fever 333 at KeyBank Pavilion Pittsburgh

Review and photos Emmy Susani

It’s a Saturday night in Burgettstown, PA and this city was not prepared for the amount of 90s nostalgia it got. The night started off with a little bit of a rain delay due to a storm that legitimately came out of nowhere. After the half-hour wait, the night got kicked off with Fever 333. The three-piece from Inglewood, CA, is a rock band at its core, with powerful rap-metal, hip-hop, and punk elements woven into a genre-transcending sound and aesthetic. Their message is that of protest and activism. They tackle a wide range of social and political issues, including race, police brutality, immigration, wealth inequality, and misogyny.

A Fever 333 demonstration isn’t all just advocacy and dissent. It is equally a highly dynamic, insanely fun and volatile performance. One cannot predict when vocalist Jason Aalon Butler might surface in the middle of the pit commanding the crowd to jump when he demands it. A Fever 333 live show is a fury of perpetual motion, both on and off stage.

Next up Underoath who provided a high energy, ass-kicking set. With eight years having passed since we last heard new music from Underøath, that near decade-length absence weighed heavily upon music lovers’ hearts. When you consider all of the bands that formed using their idiosyncratic power and texture as blueprints , you can clearly see the hole Underøath left behind. Whatever real-life worries, psychic baggage or other concerns
plagued Spencer Chamberlain, Aaron Gillespie, Tim McTague, Chris Dudley, Grant Brandell and James Smith at the time of their 2013 farewell tour, Underøath’s collective consciousness has been fortified by a renewed commitment to their art. On their Fearless Records debut Erase Me,
Underøath has added another crucial chapter to their formidable legacy. When the band went in the studio in the summer of 2017 to record their sixth album with producer Matt Squire (Panic! At The Disco, 3OH!3),
and Ken Andrews (co-founder of acclaimed LA outfit Failure), they knew exactly what they wanted to do as well as what they needed to do. Having already established themselves both as melodic songwriters and as ambitious power merchants, the evolution detailed on Erase Me finds them using the sonic dialects they’ve crafted to reveal where they are now. Clearly, Erase Me is the apex where melodic heft, indefatigable power,
spatial resonance, and arcane electronic textures converge to reveal a band that’s positively fearless. The band who once openly–and without apology–professed their faith-based worldview onstage nightly, have since moved beyond the realm of seemingly impenetrable polemics. At various junctures, Erase Me illustrates those moments of sanctuary, anxiety, betrayal, and conflict that inevitably arise when humanity grapples with belief systems. Even with a comeback title seemingly marinating in self-fulfilling prophecy, nobody in their right mind would dare delete Underøath’s measurable contribution to the advancement of post-hardcore and heavy rock.

The sun is starting to set on this rocking evening as Alice In Chains starts their set and the very noticeable riff to “Angry Chair” began to fill the air. The fusion this band has done every time I have personally seen them of “Angry Chair” into their smash hit “Man In The Box” a couple times and it always blows my mind. Their set was a mix of smash hits such as “Rooster”, “Would?”, and “Again”. They also featured some newer songs such as “Rainier Fog” and “The One You Know.” Guitarist Jerry Cantrell asked the crowd to light up their phones as they dedicated “Down In A Hole” to the late Layne Staley and Mike Starr.

I know a lot of people are hesitant to see Chains without Layne, but let me tell you their performance is out of this world. The work they have released with vocalist William DuVall is insanely underrated. If you haven’t listened to “Rainier Fog” (their latest record that came out last summer) you are missing out on some killer music. I hear a lot of people compare DuVall’s and Staley’s vocals a lot, and I don’t get it. They don’t sound alike, at least to me. DuVall has a powerful voice that fits the Chains sound extremely well and he has more than earned his spot in this band, without getting constantly compared to Staley regularly.

I guess I am feeding into this by bringing it up in this article but I heard that a lot last night and it really irritates me. I am not detracting from anything Staley did with the band, but they are both different vocalists. Does anyone ask or compare Brian Jonson to Bon Scott? What about David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar? Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel? Dio and Ozzy? You get my point, DuVall has been with the band thirteen years and has released as much work as Staley. I’m not disregarding any of the work they did in the early days, all I’m saying is give this new work a chance.

As the energy shifts and the curtain falls, all you can see are dreads flying and guitars swingin’. The roar of the crowd became overwhelming as Jonathan Davis, guitarist James “Munkey” Shaffer, bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Avizu, guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, and drummer Ray Luzier took the stage. Opening with “Here to Stay” the stage’s elaborate light installation cast an eerie shade of red upon guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, who appeared as a tornadic blur on stage right, a physical personification of the band’s music. “Are you ready?” singer Jonathan Davis screamed, signaling the opening of “Blind”, the classic track from the band’s 1994 self-titled debut. A staple in Korn’s library and one of the most significant moments in nu-metal, it sounded strong and massive. The set ended with the huge hit “Freak on a Leash,” known for its break in the middle where Davis launches into what has been best described as “caged-animal babble.” It’s an unforgettable moment to hear thousands of people scat with him. After leaving the stage for a few, the guys came back for an encore that included “For You,” “Twist,” “Coming Undone,” and ending
with “Falling Away From Me.”

This is THE TOUR of the summer if you’re asking my opinion, these bands might have been around for a while, but they still can throw down like none other.

Check out the remaining dates below:

08/20 – Noblesville, IN @ Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center +
08/21 – Tinley Park, IL @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre +
08/23 – Maryland Heights, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre +
08/25 – Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center +
08/27 – Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheatre +
08/30 – Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheatre +
08/31 – Phoenix, AZ @ Ak-Chin Pavilion +
09/02 – Chula Vista, CA @ North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre +
09/04 – Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheatre +