Live Review: Epicenter Festival at the Forum (Los Angeles), March 14, 2015

Photos by Paul A. Hebert
Photos by Paul A. Hebert

The 6th annual Epicenter Festival was held at the Forum in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 14. The Southern California rock fest featured a lineup programmed extremely well for LA metal crowd, as indicated by the large audience of black-tee-shirt-clad metalheads who slowly packed the huge arena throughout the evening.

Featuring bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, House of Pain, P.O.D., Suicidal Tendencies, and opening act Hopsin, the concert felt like it could easily have taken place over a decade ago. Notorious Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst even pointed out the obvious as he welcomed everyone to the “Family Values Tour” during his set. But despite many of the bands’ veteran status, the concert was surprisingly fresh, exciting, and and left plenty of the hard rock fans in attendance satisfied.

Epicenter is a beloved festival for SoCal rock fans because it consistently brings a diverse lineup of heavy and alternative artists to play in the area each year. This year was no different as the opening act, LA rapper Hopsin, put on a short but high energy set. He hyped up the crowd and got the energy flowing for the evening despite being forced to open quite early in the afternoon. As he dove off the stage into the hometown audience he definitely won over some new fans.

Next up were LA Thrash legends Suicidal Tendencies, who also played an unfortunately short set. The 1983 MTV staple “Institutionalized” reverberated throughout the crowd and got two huge mosh pits going on the general admission floor. For a thrash metal song that’s over 30 years old, it’s incredible to hear that many people of all ages singing along.

San Diego rockers P.O.D. were next up on the lineup and are always fun at a festival like this. Their familiar hits like “Alive” and “Boom” were a perfect mix for this who’s who concert of ’90s rock radio. P.O.D. always seem to enjoy what they do on stage and genuinely appreciate their fans.

’90s rappers House of Pain played another short set of familiar radio hits with “Jump Around” and the Everlast solo track “What it’s Like” drawing the biggest crowd reactions.

Epicenter Festival @ The Forum - 03/14/2015

Limp Bizkit are a band that people love to hate. Their music, message, and style are divisive to say the least. So going into the show, expectations for their set were mixed among the crowd. Surprisingly, the band played what became easily the best set of the evening. Focusing mostly on tracks from the 2000 album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, Limp Bizkit and frontman Fred Durst have clearly learned how to work a huge crowd. The building filled up completely during their set and the songs got the biggest crowd reactions of the evening. Notably absent was the famous George Michael cover “Faith,” the band clearly deciding to rely on their own material for the evening.

The group everyone truly came to see at Epicenter was Korn. The Bakersfield, CA metal band formed in 1993 and has continued to turn out new records and tours for many years despite numerous lineup changes. They have legions of devoted fans and SoCal showed out in force to see them play. Korn are currently playing their 1994 self-titled debut in its entirety at each show. Songs like “Blind,” “Need To,” and the bagpipe-driven “Shoots and Ladders” were fun to hear live. Drummer Ray Luzier elevates the band so much musically, and seeing his fresh take on these early songs was fun. Guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, who fairly recently returned to the band, especially enjoyed the rabid fan response.

Unfortunately, with a curfew looming, Korn only had time for a few of their larger hits before the end of the show. One less band on the immense bill might have led to a few more songs for each artist. Nonetheless, Epicenter 2015 was a solidly rocking show and provided the best metal lineup of the year for Southern California. Here’s looking forward to next year.

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