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KoRn, Alice In Chains, Underoath & FEVER 333 at Ak-Chin Pavilion

August 31, 2019 @ 6:30 pm - 11:30 pm

Since forming, KORN has sold 40 million albums worldwide, collected two GRAMMYS, toured the world countless times, and set many records in the process that will likely never be surpassed. Vocalist Jonathan Davis, guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch, bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, and drummer Ray Luzier, have continued to push the limits of the rock, alternative and metal genres, while remaining a pillar of influence for legions of fans and generations of artists around the globe. The level of KORN’s reach transcends accolades and platinum certifications. They are “a genuine movement in a way bands cannot be now,” attests The Ringer. They represent a new archetype and radical innovation, their ability to transcend genre makes barriers seem irrelevant.

Alice in Chains both epitomized the solemn, heavy Seattle sound of the 1990s and stood apart from the grunge hordes. What separated Alice in Chains from their alt-rock brethren was how their roots lay in heavy metal, not punk. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell and vocalist Layne Staley both played in metal bands prior to the formation of Alice in Chains in 1987 and they released the band’s debut, Facelift, in 1990, well before Nirvana’s Nevermind pushed the underground into the mainstream. Despite their connections to metal, Alice in Chains thrived in the glory days of grunge, and it wasn’t merely a question of timing, either. The band’s sensibility fit into the alternative rock zeitgeist of the early ’90s. Cantrell’s gloomy, minor-key riffs were an ideal match for Staley’s tortured lyrics, creating a sound that felt as heavy as their Seattle cohorts but also was slightly slicker and ready for radio. It was versatile, too. After the group scored rock radio and MTV hits with “Man in the Box” and “Would?” in the early days of grunge, Alice in Chains became one of the first alt-rock bands of the ’90s to delve into acoustic-based music, scoring hits with the comparatively softer “No Excuses” and “I Stay Away.” Despite its success, the band was plagued with internal tensions during its commercial peak, much of it stemming from Staley’s drug addictions. His abuse slowed the band’s upward trajectory in the back half of the ’90s, a descent culminating in the singer’s accidental death in 2002. Four years later, Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney, and bassist Mike Inez revived Alice in Chains with singer William DuVall, sparking an extended second life of recording and touring that has lasted longer than their original incarnation.

The roots of Alice in Chains lay in Sleze, a Seattle-based hair metal band that featured Layne Staley as lead singer. Sleze switched their name to Alice N Chains in 1986, roughly a year prior to Staley’s introduction to Cantrell at a party at the rehearsal space called the Music Bank. The pair became friends and Staley invited Cantrell to crash with him at his rented unit at the Music Bank. Shortly afterward, Alice N Chains broke up, as did Cantrell’s band, Diamond Lie. Cantrell began auditioning players for a new band, recruiting drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Starr, but he still needed a vocalist and held out hope for Staley to join. At the time, Staley was singing in a funk band that also happened to need a guitarist, so Cantrell agreed to play on the condition his friend would join the fledgling group. Staley agreed. Not long afterward, the funk band folded and this quartet gelled under the name Alice in Chains.

Alice in Chains started to gig regularly in the Seattle area, often sharing bills with Mother Love Bone, earning the attention of promoter Randy Hauser, who bankrolled a demo. Dubbed The Treehouse Tapes, the demo earned the attention of Soundgarden managers Kelly Curtis and Susan Silver, who passed it along to Columbia. The label signed Alice in Chains in 1989 and made them a priority, ushering the band into the studio with producer David Jerden, who had recently worked with Jane’s Addiction. Early in 1990, the label released the promo-only We Die Young EP with their eye on heavy metal audiences and its title track became a hit on rock radio, setting the stage for the August release of the group’s debut, Facelift, which was quickly followed by a tour opening for Iggy Pop. “Man in the Box” became the album’s second single in January 1991, and once its video entered heavy MTV rotation, Facelift took off. The album entered the Billboard charts in April 1991, Van Halen requested Alice in Chains as a tour opener in August, and in September the album earned its first gold certification; it would later earn two platinum certifications.

As Facelift’s momentum grew, Alice in Chains kept busy behind the scenes, working on material for a second album and recording an acoustic EP called Sap. One of the first all-acoustic records from an alternative rock band, Sap was released in February 1992. Alice in Chains also filmed a cameo in Singles, Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy celebrating Seattle’s vibrant underground scene of the early ’90s. By the time the film’s soundtrack appeared in June 1992, the Seattle scene had exploded nationally thanks to the unexpected success of Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind, and Alice in Chains were in the thick of it.

“Would?,” a menacing grind that doubled as the first single from both the Singles soundtrack and Alice in Chains’ second album, Dirt, started its climb up Billboard’s mainstream rock chart in June 1992, the same month the Singles soundtrack was released. By the point Dirt appeared in stores in September, Alice in Chains had firmly laid stakes in the grunge camp: “Them Bones,” the second single pulled from Dirt, became their first song to chart on Billboard’s alternative rock chart. Arriving at the peak of 1992’s grunge explosion, the dark and gloomy Dirt made Alice in Chains’ career. By December, the album earned a platinum certification — it would go platinum once again in 1993 and 1995, with a fourth and final certification arriving in 2000 — and it stayed on the charts thanks to “Angry Chair” and the Top Ten mainstream rock hits “Rooster” and “Down in a Hole.”

Despite their success, Alice in Chains were in turmoil behind the scenes. Mike Starr left the band in January 1993, to be replaced by Mike Inez. The band’s initial story was that Starr wasn’t ready to gear up for an intense work schedule, but Starr later said he was fired due to drug addiction. The specter of heavy drugs hung over the band, thanks to lyrical allusions on Dirt and rumors alleging that Staley was addicted to heroin. Alice in Chains soldiered forth, releasing two new songs on the soundtrack for the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero (including the radio hit “What the Hell Have I”) and playing a plum spot on the third Lollapalooza tour in 1993. Jar of Flies found the band retreating to softer, moody music, and the shift paid off commercially. Upon its January 1994 release, it became the first EP to debut at number one on the Billboard charts and, thanks in part to “No Excuses” — which went to number one on the mainstream rock chart and three on Billboard’s alternative chart, the highest placing they’d have with Layne Staley in the lineup — it was certified platinum by March; it would eventually earn two additional certifications.

Alice in Chains remained on the top of the charts, but they also remained off the road during 1994, fueling speculation that Staley was mired in heroin addiction. The rumors were true. Behind the scenes, Staley went through a bout of rehab that didn’t stick, leading the band to cancel its summer tour on a day’s notice and enter an unofficial hiatus. During this time, “Got Me Wrong” — a song initially released on Sap — was pulled as a single from the Clerks soundtrack and wound up as a radio hit. The bigger news during the hiatus was Staley’s busman’s holiday, Mad Season. Originally the Gacy Bunch at their initial concerts, Mad Season was a Seattle supergroup also featuring Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, the Screaming Trees’ Barrett Martin, and John Saunders. The band’s lone album, Above, arrived in March 1995.

As Above was in the middle of its run on the charts — it peaked at 24 on Billboard’s album chart, with “River of Deceit” reaching the Top Ten on Billboard’s mainstream and modern rock charts — Alice in Chains reconvened to record their third album with producer Toby Wright. Upon its November 1995 release, the eponymous record debuted at number one on Billboard, with the singles “Grind” and “Heaven Beside You” reaching the mainstream rock Top Ten; the latter peaked at six on the alternative rock chart. Once again, Alice in Chains were loath to tour. Instead, they recorded a concert — their first in nearly three years — for MTV Unplugged on April 10, 1996. By the time the show was released as an album on July 30, Alice in Chains’ return to the stage was already thwarted: after four supporting dates for Kiss, Staley was found unresponsive after a heroin overdose on July 3, 1996 following a show in Kansas City, Missouri.

Staley recovered from his OD but the band struggled as he battled his addiction. Following the death of his former fiancée, Demri Parrott, in October 1996, Staley secluded himself from the public, leading Jerry Cantrell to write and record a solo album called Boggy Depot; Mike Inez and Sean Kinney both appeared on Cantrell’s solo effort. Alice in Chains completed two new songs, including the Top Ten mainstream rock hit “Get Born Again,” for the 1998 box set Music Bank. The box was the first of a series of archival releases in the next three years: Nothing Safe: The Best of the Box showed up in 1999, followed by the concert compilation Live in 2000 and Greatest Hits in 2001. All the members of Alice in Chains busied themselves during this extended hiatus. Sean Kinney and Mike Inez appeared in Spys4Darwin, Inez gigged with Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society during his downtime, and Cantrell worked on a second solo album. Degradation Trip, the guitarist’s sophomore record, appeared in June 2002, two months after Staley was found dead from a drug overdose at his Seattle condo.

Alice in Chains parted ways after Staley’s death, with Inez becoming a member of Heart and Cantrell collaborating with a number of hard rock and metal acts, including Heart and Ozzy Osbourne. Sony released Alice in Chains from their record contract in 2004, and the next year the group reunited to play a benefit concert for the South Asia tsunami disaster of 2004. Pat Lachman, the singer for Damageplan, acted as Staley’s replacement but other stars appeared with the band, too, including Ann Wilson and Maynard James Keenan. The one-off concert went well enough that Alice in Chains decided to make their reunion permanent. Hiring William DuVall, formerly of Comes with the Fall, as Staley’s replacement, Alice in Chains toured in 2006, which led to a tour supporting Velvet Revolver in 2007.

The revived Alice in Chains recorded a comeback album in 2008 with co-producer Nick Raskulinecz, which appeared in September 2009 as Black Gives Way to Blue. Debuting at five on the Billboard charts, Black Gives Way to Blue wound up going gold while racking up two Grammy nominations, reestablishing Alice in Chains as a force in mainstream and modern rock. The group toured into 2010 and then in 2011 set to work on another album with Raskulinecz. Entitled The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, the album debuted at two upon its release in May 2013. Alice in Chains toured The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here into 2014, then spent the next two years on the road. In 2017, the group started work on another new album with Raskulinecz. Recorded primarily in Seattle, the resulting Rainier Fog appeared in August 2018. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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 youconsider all of the bands that formed using their idiosyncratic power and texture as blueprints (and then hearing those pretenders fail anyway), 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 have 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 (2004’s RIAA-Certified Gold record They’re Only Chasing Safety) and as ambitious power merchants (2006’s stentorian, gold-selling Define The Great Line and its majestic follow-up, 2008’s Lost In The Sound Of Separation), 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 only thing you need to erase is your patience with their pretenders. Accept no substitutes and your culture won’t feel destitute. It’s great to have Underøath back—especially on their terms.

Rhymes and riffs incite more change than bullets and bombs ever could.

Not long after the Vietnam War, Bad Brains rallied a Rastafarian punk spirit against the international blight of apartheid and the coked-out corporate greed synonymous with eighties America. Taking aim at endemic and institutional racism, Public Enemy spoke up against the Fear of a Black Planet only four months before Operation Desert Shield descended on the Middle East. Bringing blue brutality to the forefront of the zeitgeist, N.W.A. chanted “Fuck Tha Police,” and Body Count went primal on the whole program via “Cop Killer.” Rising from the same streets that gave the world Dr. Dre and eventually Kendrick Lamar, Fishbone tackled poverty and urged for social justice. The list of sonic rebels goes on and on…

In 2018, the United States of America feels ripe for a musical uprising. Divided more than ever in its 242-year history over systemic issues of immigration, race, class warfare, inequality, and misogyny, the time for change is now. The band is Fever 333.

Comprised of vocalist Jason Aalon Butler [ex-letlive.], drummer Aric Improta [Night Verses], and guitarist Stephen Harrison [ex-the Chariot], the Los Angeles trio lock and load gnashing guitars, guttural beats, and brazenly bold bars and then pull the trigger on a hard-hitting hybrid of hip-hop, punk, and activism.

“The movement is much greater than the music,” exclaims Butler. “The art is only a contingent piece. We want to make sure we’re just as involved in the activism and actual activation. By no means do we expect other artists to take on this task. Most of the people who made big improvements were either assassinated or just called crazy. We make it ostensibly clear that everything we do is in an active effort for change. It’s about bringing back that socio-political mindfulness. We’re trying to write the soundtrack to the revolution that we know is about to happen.”

In the midst of America’s 2017 socio-political upheaval, the singer—a self-described “bi-racial double agent who’s got a black father and a white mother”—could feel the weight “of the divisions we’ve created because of race.” After meeting Travis Barker of blink-182 by chance, he spent Super Bowl Sunday with the iconic drummer and mutual friend producer John Feldman. That day, this unholy triumvirate’s conversation inspired the songs that would eventually comprise Fever 333’s 2018 debut.

“We started talking about black punk rock,” he recalls. “Punk rock and hip-hop are one-in-the-same. They’re always flying the flag of channeling art from discord. Travis and John supported my desire to create something a little dangerous that was subservice: musically and in ethos. We opened the floodgates together.”

Around this time, the frontman made a conscious decision to disband letlive., which he founded 15 years before. Equally inspired by the teachings of Angela Davis and the words of “hood prophets” in his native “Section 8 Inglewood,” Butler’s future agenda became etched in stone.

“I appreciate my accomplishments in letlive.,” he says. “I wanted to move forward towards a very clear-cut and specific vision. Personally, artistically, mentally, emotionally, and politically, I’m very radical, left-leaning, and unapologetic in what I believe. That’s the only way to accomplish anything, whether contemporary or long-term. letlive. had done what it was supposed to. It was time for a new era.”

Feverishly writing, each session yielded more tunes. Last summer, Fever 333 made their live debut—quite appropriately—on July 4, 2017. They hijacked the parking lot of infamous L.A. staple Randy’s Donuts (Notably, it’s a stone’s throw from South Central where the vocalist grew up). This “Political Pool Party” preceded the storm to come.

Every element made a statement—even the lineup.

“We’ve got a black guitar player, mixed race singer, and white drummer,” he goes on. “There’s a purpose.”

On their upcoming EP, that purpose can be felt loud and clear. Fittingly, their sonic declaration of independence, “We’re Coming In,” culminates on the sharp scream, “We’re coming in, motherfucker!”

“It’s about pulling the fuck up at The White House and having a discourse with our current administration and cabinet about how what they’re doing affects us,” he sighs. “The middle class will soon be eradicated. We’re showing face in hopes to create an empathetic capsule.”

“Hunting Season” stands among a long lineage of anthems for “people of color versus the authority and that vicious cycle.” “Made In America” ignites a clarion call of buzzsaw riffing, a volley of vicious verses, and another powder keg chant.

“This country’s wealth and success were built on the backs of slaves,” he sighs. “We’re all immigrants. It’s about the fucking facts. The people in power benefit from that.”

“Walking In My Shoes” doesn’t just title another banger; it serves as the banner for Fever 333’s activism. The Walking In My Shoes Foundation will host speakers, launch art installations, promote storytellers, and benefit partner charities such as Downtown Los Angeles-based Inner City Arts, The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and more.

In the end, the revolution truly starts with Fever 333.

“‘The Fever’ involves self-possessed autonomous human beings spreading an idea of understanding and empathy from one mind to another,” he leaves off. “It’s infectious. Three is the magic number. The strongest shape in geometry is the triangle with its three points. ‘C’ is the third letter in the alphabet. The ‘Three C’s’ are ‘Community, Charity, and Change.’ The people who want to invest in this are as fucking important as we are. By invest, I don’t mean sales or awards; I mean success towards making this revolution a reality. Our generation has so much power. We have these systems in place that are completely fucked, but we’re up next. If we can rally together and cultivate this strength and solidarity, I believe we can be the change.”