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Family Values Tour
Korn, Rammstein, Ice Cube, Limp Bizkit, and Orgy

A Concert Review in Many Parts

September 27, 1998

CSU Pavilion

Cleveland, OH

A Review and Photos by
The Dude on the Right
Mom, I'm Home!
The Strobe-Light Show from Hell - Orgy
I Wish I Were in a Band - Limp Bizkit
Sometimes It's About Attitude - Ice Cube
I'm Frightened - Rammstein
Where's Her Shirt? - Korn
Where's the Entrance Ramp?

Mom, I'm Home!
Jonathan Davis of Korn
It's really strange how things work out sometimes. Take my seeing the "Family Values" show with the likes of Korn, Rammstein, Ice Cube, Limp Bizkit, and Orgy. There it was, mid-August, and I learned that Chicago would get its stop of "values" in early October. I was psyched because this had the potential to be one of the most interesting and entertaining shows of the year. But then charity came into play. A few weeks later I find out that "Farm Aid" is heading back to Chicago on the same day as the "Family Values" show. I'm torn between covering one of the largest charity concerts of the year with a lot of bands I wanted to see, or covering the opposite end of the musical spectrum with a lot of bands I wanted to see. What to do, what to do? Well, what to do was check the "Family Values" tour dates, and low and behold they had a convenient weekend date in Cleveland. A couple of phone calls, some e-mail, and I packed the dude-mobile and headed for home.

Ahh, back home again to the land of steel plants and car manufacturing; back home again to visit the city where the river caught fire and the sports teams just can't seem to get the much needed win; back home again to a home cooked meal and seeing the family; and this time coming home to cover a show. Strange how things happen.

The Strobe-Light Show from Hell - Orgy
Well, the day of the show arrives, and I head to the Cleveland State University Pavilion. I'm about an hour early, but that turned out to be a good thing because I almost got lost getting to the venue, and I also ran into a couple of pretty clueless people working the place. I found my way to the photo-pit area, found out where my seat was, and waited patiently for Orgy to begin. Finally the lights went down, the curtains opened, and the stage erupted with a band that seemed just a little tentative, and strobe lights that just wouldn't quit.

So there was Orgy, up on stage, dishing out their version of the bass-driving metal but not metal, hip-hop but not hip-hop, rap but not rap, but still working to come into their own. And they still seem to be working at it. Now, don't get me wrong, Jay Gordon on vocals didn't just stand there and blast out lyrics, and the folks in the band didn't just stand there and play, but what really seemed to be missing during Orgy's short set was an attitude. Jay worked all of the stage, strutted back and forth, but the angry, pissed off attitude that seemed to be a part of the songs just didn't seem to be portrayed.

Orgy's set was short, and their part of this review will be short, but I think they will come into their own in time. The crowd was receptive but the easiest gauge of the energy of the band is the energy of the crowd, and well, the crowd just seemed content to politely let Orgy finish their set and wait for someone to stir them up, and it turns out that Limp Bizkit had the big spoon to stir the mosh pit.

I Wish I Were in a Band - Limp Bizkit
To start this portion of the review I must take you to after the show as I was driving back home. I'm listening to the radio and some d.j. type dude starts talking about how he was at the show. He started talking about the bands, and then started bustin' on Limp Bizkit. I had to do a double-listen because he started talking about Limp Bizkit kind of riding the coat-tails of Korn, how Fred Durst vocals sounded like crap, and how the band, well, basically sucked. I had to wonder if he saw the same band, wondered how he could really tell if Fred's vocals sounded like crap, and wondered why he didn't mention that Limp Bizkit got the crowd into a mosh-pit frenzy. I'm thinking that most everyone at the show liked Limp Bizkit except this guy. So enough about that guy, what about this portion of the show?

Well, as the curtains re-opened one of the coolest things about this show started to expose itself (other than the girls, but I'll get to that later) - each band got to have their own stage set-up. Utilizing this way-cool revolving stage, while one band is playing the roadies are setting up the next band, and as Orgy's stage set-up was kinda plain, Limp Bizkit started the challenge for cool set award. With a spaceship motif, the boys of the band emerged from the rocks and shows how a difference in attitude (alright, and maybe a little more popularity) can bring a crowd to a frenzy. A song here, a song there, a sing-a-long to "Counterfeit, a Ministry cover, and the crowd was in full motion, but Fred wasn't about to leave things there. Nope, trip #1 into the crowd takes Fred around the mosh-pit, around the entire main floor, and then smack dab in the middle of the crowd. While he's making lots of fans happy I'm next to a security dude tempting some kid in the seats to jump to the main floor (the kid does, a good 8' leap over the railing and some fences and I was almost impressed until…) while Fred made his way back to the stage, climbs the speaker stack, looks kinda worried about the leap in to the crowd, but dives into the crowd anyway. The crowd happily catches him, a second dude near me leaps over the railing and some fences to the main floor, and break-dancers take the stage complete with water cannons. The crowd is pleased.

But as Limp Bizkit continued their mix of mixing metal with hip hop with some electronica stuff thrown in, why it can be cool to be in a band comes into play because where else can you, in reply to girls in the front row screaming to play a song, say something like "I'll play that if you show me some fuckin' titties!" The girlies obliged (at least I'm assuming from the bra thrown on stage), and I hope they requested Limp Bizkit's cover of George Michael's "Faith" because that's what came next.

So, the radio guy didn't like Limp Bizkit and his main complaint was them sounding lousy, but now as a well-traveled reviewer I must say that CSU's place is pretty much the acoustic cave I am used to at some places in Chicago, and with Limp Bizkit's mix of everything going on I thought they sounded pretty good. From the reaction of the crowd I think most of the people thought the same. And the set came to a close, the curtains closed, and next up came Ice Cube.

Sometimes It's About Attitude - Ice Cube
Ice Cube and his bust.
Ice Cube, among a few others, has been credited with really bringing the hip-hop revolution into full force nearly a decade ago. As I stood there and watched his set start, it occurred to me that for a majority of the crowd, well, they were anywhere between six to ten years old when Ice Cube began this revolt, and way far away from freaking their parents out by asking to get their tongues pierced. Most of them may have heard of Ice Cube, but didn't realize his importance, and as Ice Cube started, they seemed, well, not dis-interested, but more in a state of wondering what to make of this guy bounding back and forth across the stage, with his partner doing the same, while a bunch of dudes playing Grim Reaper stood around the perimeter of the stage and the mix-man was perched high upon a bust of Ice Cube with a big ol' top hat. The youngin's almost seemed to wonder "Where's the band?"

So Ice Cube used this to his advantage, leaving the stage after two songs bitching that the crowd didn't care about him. So it's time for some crowd revolt, led by Mr. Cube's rapping partner, developing the "Fuck you, Ice Cube!" chant by the masses, and it was time for Ice's return to delve back into his N.W.A. days, as well as his current solo projects, and basically showing the crowd where a lot of the hip-hop, rapping, and attitude began.

Ice Cube seemed to know that the crowd wouldn't know how to take him at first, but, with an attitude, he knew they would come around. The guy knows how to work it, and works it well, and can take a crowd of somewhat mystified teenagers and make them change their attitudes in a short amount of time. From what could have been a disastrous set to an ending of "that dude is cool," the curtains closed leaving a few more Ice Cube fans than when the show began.

I'm Frightened - Rammstein
Till Lindenmann of Rammstein
The curtains are still closed and a strange odor wafts in front of my nose. The strange odor I'm used to at concerts is generally the wacky weed, but this had the aroma of, well, lighter fluid. "That's odd," I thought, but then again I didn't know much about Rammstein (Guess I should have read that press release a little better.). Then the curtains opened, I then thought to myself, "Hmm, well that stage set-up is a little boring." But that was only until Till Lindenmann, the lead singer dude, came out looking like a Borg from Star Trek, and then, well, was lit on fire. The beginning of Rammstein's set had begun.

Now, I don't really know a damn thing about Rammstein, had never heard them before, but there were a few things I jotted in my notes that really stuck out. One was simply that this band frightened me.
Till Lindenmann of Rammstein
No, it wasn't the fact that fireworks were being shot from boots; it wasn't the flaming microphone stands; it wasn't Till wielding a flamethrower; it wasn't the drummer with the "roman candle" style drumsticks; it wasn't the setting off of pyrotechnics above the crowd; it wasn't the flaming keyboard; and it wasn't the giant penis ejaculating into the crowd. No, those things are just plain cool. But mix them with, well, I wrote down "a bastardized cross between industrial and death metal," and add that to the fact that I couldn't really understand a word, and well, I was frightened.

But this was really an "impressed" frightened, because with all of the shit going on during every part of their set, Rammstein sure had their act together, both theatrically, and probably more importantly, musically. In between the fire, the explosions, the way-cool light show, and, I believe it was Flake, the keyboard player, seemingly taking the giant penis up the rear, mixed in was a band that clicked together through every industrial beat and speed-metal guitar. I may have been scared, but I love a band that puts on a great or interesting show, and Rammstein does both. A show that was a bastardized version of GWAR meets KISS, industrial crashes head-on with death-metal, and for me you've come up with Rammstein. Rammstein's set was done, the fire extinguishers were ready to be put away, so the curtains closed awaiting Korn and, well, a confirmed occurrence of nudity.

Where's Her Shirt? - Korn
Jonathan Davis and Ice Cube
And then came Korn. As the curtains opened revealing what was to become a jail motif, it was time for one, big-ol' sing-a-long. Mind you, this was no camp-fire sing-a-long, oh no, this combined anger, rage, glimpses of hope, and a mosh-a-long on the main floor that rivaled most that I have seen. Oh, and oh yea, two girls in the front hoping Jonathan Davis would notice them, and I guess they figured that if they didn't have shirts on it might help. Such can be a concert.

But Korn's set wasn't just about a sing-a-long, a mosh-a-long, or nudity. Nope, Korn's set was about doing everything possible to please their fans who have supported them, spread the word, and gave them the ability and confidence to develop one of the better music festivals out there. Korn put fans in the "jail" behind them for an up-close show, Korn brought out a new favorite performer in Ice Cube, Korn brought out the bagpipes, and Korn just blasted through a set up their high-energy, rap-metal-hip blend that has kept their fans pounding fists in the air and moshing until they just can't mosh no more.

Ice Cube
There's a different feel in seeing a band whose fan base has developed with no radio support, and mostly it's shown with a better connection between the band and the crowd. Korn is one of those bands. In a show like this you don't find the "I know one song, I hope they play it" fan - you find the fan who has every CD, knows every song, and will sing, cheer, and be on their feet the entire show. Every fan gives it their all through every song, and they expect no less from the band - and Korn gave it to them. Fieldy did his great transformations from stoic to slightly crazed bassist, the guitars on both ends never stopped, and Jonathan Davis still gets one of the best work-outs of anyone on stage, running back and forth while still screaming, singing, and getting the lyrics heard.

With the energy Korn gives off, and the energy the crowd gives back, it is no wonder that as I made my way towards the back of the main floor a girl comes by me, says something like "I don't know if I can take anymore," and just lays down in front of me. The band was still playing its ass off, and she just laid there while I kept enjoying the show. Then, all of a sudden, she seemed to hear a favorite line, her head perked up, and as quick as a jack-rabbit she darted her way back to the mosh pit. It seems that nothing really can keep a Korn fan down.

Where's the Entrance Ramp?
Jonathan Davis of Korn
So The Family Values show in Cleveland came to a close, and it was time to find my entrance ramp to the expressway to the way back home. I did a little reflecting of "Best-of's" of the night, and came up with this:

  • Best Band/Artist: Korn - Fan-pleasers with the best of them
  • Best Stage Set-up: A toss->

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