Most metal bands approaching the 20-year mark are trying to keep pace with the unholy mess they made when they were young and insane.
Rather than attempting to recapture, re-create or repackage anything, Korn is kranking the beat and doing its best to make friends with the future.
Tuesday night's set at Stage AE started in fairly typical fashion, with the Bakersfield, Calif., nu metal band pouncing on stage with "Divine," the jolting and borderline psychotic rocker from the debut album that established Korn as a contender for Angriest Band in the World. Jonathan Davis and Korn lingered in its dark, sludgy past for "Predictable," "No Place to Hide" and "Good God," with Munky and Fieldy spewing sewage from guitar and bass.
The children of the Korn, now in their 30s and thinning in number, jumped with raised fists but didn't pummel with the same enthusiasm they had in the big, bad '90s.
Five songs in, Korn stepped into the virtual phone booth -- in which drummer and West Newton product Ray Luzier swaps in electronics -- and put on its cape for the Super Skrillex-ed Korn with "Narcissistic Cannibal." One of the tracks from the new dubstep-powered album "The Path of Totality," it put Korn more on the industrial knife's edge, with fat, club-shaking beats and flashing strobes.
Korn managed to pull it off without sounding too much like Nine Inch Nails, thanks to Mr. Davis' distinctive blend of dementia. Rather than walking away, throwing things or vomiting en masse, the fans stood by their band and a nasty little pit even erupted at stage left briefly lit (quite beautifully) by green lasers.
Korn stayed on that "Path," raging with the machine for six songs, including the battle-charged single "Get Up!", the melodic "Way Too Far" and "Chaos Lives in Everything," a song that sure seems to be glorifying rape.
Having further damaged whatever purists may have been in the house, Korn thanked everyone and reset the controls to climax the set with some dis-comforting older chestnuts, like "Here to Stay" and "Falling Away from Me," its snarling cover of "Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 1, 2, 3)," with the crowd as the choir, Mr. Luzier displaying his wares and the best guitar solo of the night (courtesy of Munky and David Gilmour). It came to big finish with bagpipes, "Shoots and Ladders" and the ever-popular "Blind."
You could tell that having weathered the dubstep, the children of the Korn were happy to tap into the old anger.
Before any of this live stuff, Mr. Davis set the electronic tone with a DJ set as J Devil, followed by another industrial blend from Sluggo -- the DJ, not the cartoon character.
Scott Mervis: email@example.com; 412-263-2576. First Published June 20, 2012 4:00 AM