Korn and Breaking Benjamin at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI

Nu-metal pioneers Korn and hard-rockers Breaking Benjamin fire up fans old and new with support from Bones UK.

Getting the evening off to a great start is Bones UK, originally from Camden Town, London. They now reside in Los Angeles. They consist of Rosie Bones on vocals and rhythm guitar, Carmen Vandenberg on lead guitar, and Heavy on the drums. They tear through a seven-song set that is completely from their 2019 self-titled debut album including “Creature,” “Filthy Freaks,” “Pretty Waste,” and even a cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans.” Heavy lays down a body-shaking beat, while Rosie and Carmen keep the crowd entertained, playing off each other many times at center stage; Carmen doing spins and Rosie dropping to her knees while jamming. The crowd loves it and responds with solid applause after every song.

Next up are Breaking Benjamin who just seem to get better with every album and tour. Having been on a headlining tour in 2019 and recently releasing their 7th album Aurora, they are riding high. Tonight’s venue is at near capacity with just some seats remaining in the far corners of the upper tier. In typical style, the stage is darkly lit, mostly in deep hues of red, orange, and yellow. Taking the stage first is drummer Shaun Foist, who is on a riser that spans across most of the stage and resembles a zig-zagging rusted wall. However, it lights up the length of it in various colors including red, yellow, blue, and white during the set. They kick it off with one of their earliest and biggest radio hits, “Diary of Jane,” from the 2006 album Phobia that immediately has the fans cheering and singing along. They follow it up with the pulsing “Until the End” that finds bassist Aaron Bruch up high on the drum riser and singing backup vocals, while guitarist Jason Rauch, sporting a pink mohawk, is on a separate riser near the front striking poses and reeling off the riffs. The next song, “Believe,” features Aaron on lead vocals and provides Benjamin Burnley the opportunity to roam the stage playing up to fans on both sides.

Following “Failure,” they play “Torn in Two” that finds Ben roaming the crowd while singing as fans reach out to touch him. By now, the fans have warmed up with several crowd-surfing to the front. This song also features Aaron letting out deep growls in parts of the song. “Red Cold River” opens with the stage appropriately lit in a sea of red. After “Breath” and “Polyamorous,” they go way back to 2002 release Saturate and play “Shallow Bay.” With some cool, thin beams of blue light, they get the crowd rocking even more with the powerful “Blow Me Away” that has fans on their feet and singing. The next song, and one of their most popular, “Sooner or Later,” features guitarist Keith Wallen on vocals. They close it out with “So Cold” and “I Will Not Bow,” two more fan favorites that leave them wanting more. The fans show their appreciation with loud cheers and whistles. Once again, Breaking Benjamin proves that rock is alive and kicking and not going away anytime soon. 

Finally, the time has arrived for the nu-metal pioneers Korn to whip the crowd into a frenzy with their unique blend of metal featuring seven-string guitars in full step down tuning and pulsing drum and bass lines. When the white curtain blocking the stage is dropped, they start it off with the radio staple “Here to Stay.” With 13 studio albums and a career spanning 27 years, there is no shortage of material to choose from. And what is usually a song reserved for near the end of a set or even an encore, the highly familiar open notes and cymbal tapping of “Blind” already have the fans eager to let loose. When the guitars and bass kick in, the fans start bouncing and raising their horns as singer Jonathan Davis sings “Are You Ready?” It also has bassist Fieldy and guitarists Head and Munky bouncing around the stage and sending their dreads flying about. Fieldy, with part of his hair died blue, takes lots of time to pose and play up to the fans. They love it and show their appreciation with fist pumps and horns. They follow that with “Clown” from their 1994 self-titled release.

With their acclaimed 2019 release The Nothing, Korn has once again taken their popularity to a new level that found them near the top of the bill or even headlining at many festivals and filling large venues while on headlining tours. They have a loyal following but are gaining new fans of all ages still. The next songs, “Cold” and “You’ll Never Find Me,” both come from that album with the latter a radio hit. Going back to their previous release The Serenity of Suffering, “Rotting in Vain” gets a large circle pit to open on the floor. It is not a place for the meek as there are some heavy hitters wreaking havoc, but having fun.

With a short break between songs, Jonathan Davis returns to the stage playing the bagpipes before leading the crowd in a metal twist on some nursery rhymes in the song “Shoots and Ladders.” It also transitions toward the end into part of “One” by Metallica that gets the fans to erupt with deafening cheers. Following the new song “Can You Hear Me” and the popular “Somebody Someone,” they once again have the fans moving with the “Make Me Bad.” They close out the set with one of their most popular songs of all-time, “Freak on a Leash.”

Returning for the encore, they play “4U” and the interesting, but short “Twist” that features Jonathan Davis’s unique vocal stylings. “Coming Undone” is another fan favorite that has them dancing and singing along. It also features a snippet of the Queen song, “We Will Rock You.” Closing out the evening in high fashion is the hit “Falling Away From Me” that has the whole venue bouncing and headbanging. At one point, the music slows and the stage goes dark before ramping back up and shooting streamers over the crowd on the floor up front. It was a great ending to an awesome evening of rock and metal.

KORN
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BREAKING BENJAMIN
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BONES UK
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VAN ANDEL ARENA
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About Gary Pahlow 23 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.