MERRY MELTDOWN REVIEW AND PHOTO GALLERY bY MICHAEL MULLENIX!
Friends and Subscribers, Michael Mullenix here, as you know I don’t review much for the site, so when I do drop everything because that means that I have just returned from one hell of a show. Last Saturday, December 14th, KoRn, Stone Temple Pilots, Sick Puppies, and local up-and-comers Assuming We Survive arrived at the Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California for the X103.9’s annual Merry Meltdown Festival. This annual tradition brings Metal to the masses in one last seasonal celebration for the year.
Part of the reason I felt a review was so needed on this event was to voice my opinion on the one question everyone has been asking me: “So how was Chester [Bennington] as the singer of Stone Temple Pilots?” Of course, this year Linkin Park front man Chester picked up vocal duties for Stone Temple Pilots and everyone’s attention has been on what the change has been to the overall band. The truth is the band sounds as tight as they ever have, and this arrangement is only a win-win for everyone involved. The founding members Dean, Robert and Eric are still playing some of the most solid Rock N Roll ever written and now have a new younger member bringing the same manic energy Weiland was known for. On the other side of that, the new Vocal responsibilities have pushed Bennington’s vocal range to a whole new level with incredible results. He never hit a sour note and his performance onstage had the kind of infectious charisma that comes from someone living out a dream come true.
At the end of the night KoRn took the stage in one of the best performances I have seen all year. For starters, Head’s return to the band brings back a crucial element to their sound and ensemble. Having him back as the guitar counterpart to Munky fills out the sound incredibly well, and the new material performed off The Paradigm Shift is a true return to the style KoRn pioneered so many years ago. Songs like Prey For Me and Love and Meth blended seamlessly into a hit-packed setlist including Got The Life and Dead Bodies Everywhere, and this is really attributed to the band regaining a 2nd guitarist. The other thing that really sold the show was how bare-bones it was. The set-pieces, if you could even call it that were static and unobtrusive, leaving the manic energy of KoRn to be the driving focus of the evening. Nearly 20 years after it was written, it was still pulse-pounding to hear the intro to Blind drawn out for effect, and brought to a boil with Jonathan Davis practically spitting while he scream into the microphone “ARE YOU READY?!” And forget head banging, the band is still full-on pogo-ing during their breakdowns. Kudos to staying limber and in shape. Finally the band brought the Meltdown to a close with the seminal hit “Freak On A Leash”, a perfect way to ring in the New Year!