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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Korn and Bizkit, now in theaters

November 13, 2003|Steve Appleford | Special to The Times

Back in the '90s, Korn and Limp Bizkit dominated a corner of aggressive, obnoxious hard rock with a slippery hip-hop flair, conquering the charts with every release. Both are as emblematic of those times as teen pop and grunge, but Korn and Bizkit are somehow still standing.

In their joint "Back 2 Basics Tour," which stopped at the Wiltern LG on Tuesday, both acts are looking to reestablish their long and intense connections with fans, playing theaters far smaller than the arenas they had grown accustomed to in their peak years. In the case of Korn, the Wiltern was hardly able to contain the band's fiery storm of shouting, throbbing, riffing, confusion and self-loathing.

Dressed in a black running suit, singer Jonathan Davis reveled in dysfunction, sputtering crazily and convulsing ecstatically behind the microphone. The band's harsh, churning creepshow guitars were at their best when the sound remained focused and tuneful. But the mix was a little off, meaning that lesser songs could often get lost in the echoing storm of noise.

Except for some stuffed white poodles gathered on a speaker cabinet, the concert was notably less theatrical than some earlier Korn tours. Korn doesn't need all that, but the pacing during Tuesday's one-hour performance seemed a little rushed, lacking Korn's distinctive and brooding goth moments.

Earlier, Limp Bizkit was a tighter unit than it has ever been, which can't simply be explained by the presence of new guitarist Mike Smith. Bizkit is in rebuilding mode, and the extra effort shows.

Looking trim in a short, bleached Mohawk, singer Fred Durst seemed comfortable wading into the crowd, not combative at all. During "My Way," a young woman climbed onstage to dance with Durst, and the singer soon pulled up a male fan to join them in frantic frog hops.

Hip-hop was always a more pronounced element of Bizkit than Korn, but Durst has lately been flexing his rock roots, mixing Bizkit hits with surprising cover songs, including a few lines from Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." Bizkit even did a version of Nirvana's "You Know You're Right," which at least proved that in rock, nothing is sacred or everything is.

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