System of a Down & Korn wrap co-headlining tour in Los Angeles

System of a Down and Korn closed out their short co-headlining west coast tour with support from Helmet and Russian Circles at Banc of California in Los Angeles for not one, but two nights! Due to the Armenian-American band lead singer, Serj Tankian, getting COVID back in October of last year, System of a Down had to postpone the tour until February. But, the night was finally here and I couldn’t be more excited!

If you haven’t been to a show at the stadium, be mentally prepared for traffic, lots of aggressive bootleg shirt vendors and a very steep parking fee. Unfortunately, we were unable to see Russian Circles or Helmets, due to circumstances beyond our control. That said, we made it just in time for the main acts.

Korn released their fourteenth album ‘Requiem’ on this day.

Korn only played one song off the album, “Start the Healing”, but they did have a special album release party (or ‘mass’, if you will), the night before at a church! The beginning of summer 2021, bassist Fieldy needed to go on hiatus for personal reasons. We wish Fieldly the best and hope he can return one day. Meanwhile, Ra Diaz of Suicidal Tendencies has been filling his spot. Not going to lie — I love seeing Ra on that stadium stage! His talent and energy seems to fit perfectly with the rest of the band. For the intro of “Shoots and Ladders”, lead singer Jonathon Davis brought out his bagpipes; I’ve never seen a bagpipe performance in person, so that was cool! Fun fact: if you look him up on Google, it says Jonathon Davis — bagpipes. Not lead vocals… bagpipes. The pipes sounded hella amazing in the stadium! In the middle of “Shoots and Ladders”, the band played a little snippet of “One” by Metallica and during “Coming Undone”, they played a little snippet of “We Will Rock You” by Queen. It’s always fun to hear songs we all for sure know to get the crowd fired up. They closed out the set with “A.D.I.D.A.S” (not the shoe) and “Blind”.

It’s always cool meeting new friends and seeing old ones between sets. Of course, we saw Christian Levya and Christian Bates on the rail, for this was a special night celebrating Bates’ 21st birthday! In between the sets, we went to the lounge to chill for a little. While we were there, all of the sudden I heard a girl scream “OMG look!” and whipped out her phone. I moved to see what she was looking at and it was the Olympic games opening ceremonies and they happened to be introducing Armenia right at that moment! It felt like the whole room sort of paused for a moment and took in that moment — it was really cool! I also saw a lot of people around the stadium wearing the Armenian flag and colors! Los Angeles was one of the cities that came together to show their support and alliance for Armenia during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.

System of a Down played a whopping 27 songs and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better setlist!!

They started their set off by playing “X”, which was the perfect way to get us all pumped and moving! I really underestimated how crazy that pit was going to be! It was so tight, you could barely breathe and there really wasn’t a moment where it wasn’t moving. There were even times where my feet were not on the ground! Even though it’s insane, there’s no greater feeling than being in a pit like that.

They just recently started playing their song “Holy Mountains” again, which I believe is because of the recent war in Armenia. It’s a song about the Armenian genocide of 1915-18, which hit very close to home for lead singer Serj Tankian, as all four of his grandparents are survivors of it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt an energy that strong when they played this song. You could really feel all the passion and pain that this song brings to not only the band, but also the fans.       

Before a couple of the songs, guitarist Daron Malakian would just say random things, like “my cock is much bigger than yours” and “pull the tapeworm out of your ass.” If you don’t know System of a Down that well, you’re probably just standing there, like “What is he talking about?” That’s what I love about System, though! Their lyrics are so wacky and make you laugh, but the songs actually have such deep meanings. Of course, the band also played hits “B.Y.O.B”, “Psycho”, “Chop Suey!”, “Lonely Day”, “Hypnotized”, “Aerial”, “Toxicity” and closed out their set with “Sugar”. This was such a fun night; this show will forever go down as one of my favorite concerts! I would love to see these two bands hopefully share the stage again sometime in the future.

Photography by Heather Vandemark; article by Kaiya Vandemark

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