Following forensic levels of analysis, it appears that no other music genre has done 'crazy' quite like nu metal. Built upon the fusion of styles such as funk metal and hip hop, nu metal dominated the 90s simply by being wild, dangerous and hilarious at every conceivable opportunity. With that in mind, here are 15 of its most unbelievable moments, in order of sheer craziness and brazen audacity.
...Are you ready?
14. Skrape perform at Summer Sonic 01
The nu metal highway is littered with good bands who arrived at the wrong time without a spark to catch fire. Skrape were one such band, except they somehow ended up being big in Japan. In August 2001, the band found themselves opening Summer Sonic Fest ’s main stage at Chiba's Marine Stadium on the second day, performing with all the confidence of a headline act to a suitably apeshit crowd. “We love your country, Japan,” vocalist Billy Keeton told the crowd, followed by an extremely American-sounding "Arigato.” For one humid afternoon, the Florida five-piece lived out a rock star dream that many of their contemporaries could only dream of.
13. American Head Charge fire shotguns during shows
When it came to catching people’s attention, American Head Charge had no problem in that department. The Minneapolis nu metallers got a name for themselves for burning the Stars and Stripes on stage, but when the sight of charred flags became tediously predictable, the ante had to be upped. But how? Vocalist Cameron Heacock knew just the thing, and would open the band’s live performances by blasting a shotgun into the air. Could you get away with that now? Probably not. Is that for the best? We’ll be cautious and say yes.
12. Dry Kill Logic record a song for a violent baseball game
In 2002, Midway Games commissioned Dry Kill Logic to create a theme song for MLB Slugfest 2003 – a gonzo take on baseball that allows you to beat the brakes off of anyone that tags you out at a base. Appropriately, Dry Kill Logic updated Take Me Out to the Ballgame into a pummelling nu metal face-smasher. It’s MLB meets XFL and a way harder song than they probably needed to turn in. Batter up!
11. 50 Cent crashes Evanescence's Grammy award acceptance and Amy Lee isn't bothered
50 Cent’s debut album Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ was certified platinum several times over and spawned multiple hit singles – In Da Club, 21 Questions, P.I.M.P. – so it made sense that the New York rapper was favourite to take the Best New Artist Grammy home in 2003. When he lost out to Evanescence, the rapper briefly protested the decision by joining the band. As they accepted their award, Amy Lee, forever unbothered, began her speech with “Thanks 50…”. The rapper – whose real name is Curtis Jackson III – threw some shade at the band 17 years later when he was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He joked: "You got the largest debut hip hop album [but] you don't got no Best New Artist trophy. The Best New Artist, they gave that shit to Evanescence. Can you find fucking Evanescence? I ain't seen Evanescence since that night.” We're pretty sure they've done alright since, actually.
10. Lynn Strait emerges from Limp Bizkit's massive toilet and is arrested for indecent exposure
Possibly as a nod to the convenience of modern plumbing, Limp Bizkit outdid themselves after bringing a 13-foot toilet for their appearances on Ozzfest 1998. During their set at the Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts in Mansfield, Massachusetts, this ridiculous stage prop gave Snot frontman and general hellraiser Lynn Strait an idea. If he emerged naked from the oversized porcelain-style throne – save for a Snot sticker on his chest – it would be an effective promotional coup. Add a simulated sex act from a dancer, then there’d surely be news coverage and a raft of curious new fans. The vocalist got more than he bargained for, as local police charged him with indecent exposure. In December of that year, he would tragically pass away in a car crash before he could be sentenced.
9. David Silveria poses for Calvin Klein
Throughout the 1990s, Korn were an omnipresent force, thanks in part to being a regular fixture on MTV’s Total Request Live and when they premiered their single Falling Away from Me on the South Park episode Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery. But it wasn’t until drummer David Silveria got it in his head that modelling was a shrewd move, that they finally crossed the line. The ad campaign was met with immediate derision and the backlash was so severe that his bandmates had to distance themselves from it all. They would later parody the incident in their Twisted Transistor music video with David Banner as Silveria getting jumped by the band (played by Snoop Dogg, Lil Jon, and Xzibit) when they spot his face on a billboard.
8. Sevendust singer sees a rainbow, dude
Despite having a bill packed with megastars, Woodstock '99 will be remembered for three tragic deaths, sexual assaults, rioting and looting. On a much-needed lighter note, Sevendust lead singer, Lajon Witherspoon, spotted a beautiful meteorological phenomenon. As the band tore through their 12-song set, he raised his hand, pointed over the crowd and shouted, “Look at that fuckin’ rainbow, y’all! Everyone look at the rainbow!”, then began to giggle. Stop it, Lajon, you're laughing at weather.
7. Deftones perform Be Quiet and Drive with Adam Sandler and Incubus
All movies aimed at the straight white young male demographic during the late 90s and early 00s packed their soundtracks with nu metal and Adam Sandler’s demonic comedy Little Nicky was no exception. But when Sandler and Incubus joined Deftones for an acoustic rendition of their classic Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away) on an MTV movie special, that was something else. More so when P.O.D. joined for an impromptu rendition of Steve Miller Band’s The Joker as the credits rolled.
6. A nu metal vampire movie that didn't suck
Queen Of The Damned was the perfect vampire movie for the nu metal era. While the bloodthirsty protagonist Lestat de Lioncourt was not wearing baggy jeans or a chain wallet, the movie itself is so thoroughly nu metal that Korn frontman Jonathan Davis composed the film’s music and provided Lestat’s singing voice, even though it didn't sound anything like actor Stuart Townsend. In an added nu metal twist, Davis' label wouldn't sign off on the soundtrack with his vocals, so David Draiman, Chester Bennington and Jay Gordon (Orgy) were enlisted to sing them in his place.
5. System of a Down release Toxicity in the same week as 9/11
System of a Down released their second album Toxicity just one week before the terrorist attacks of September 11. In a retrospective article with Vulture, bassist Shavo Odadjian recounts watching the second World Trade Center tower fall during the attacks when a call came in from the band’s manager: “Congratulations, you’re number one on Billboard.” Two days later, Serj Tankian would post an essay on the band’s website that linked the US’ own foreign policies to the terrorist attacks. Their label would later pull the essay following a backlash, while the four-piece were rumoured to have been monitored by the CIA for subversive activities. Shockingly, none of this blunted the momentum of the band's second album. While other heavy bands’ careers would be tanked by the attacks, Toxicity’s three singles – Chop Suey!, the title track and Aerials – were hits and the album was multi-platinum by the end of that year.
4. Slipknot make their UK television debut
When Chris Evans – the carrot-haired presenter, not Captain America – introduces “horror metal legends” Slipknot during their UK television debut on Channel 4's Friday evening entertainment show TFI Friday, there’s an almost newsreader sense of seriousness in his voice. “Their state shows and albums are a scandal from coast to coast,” he quips with equal parts excitement and caution before throwing his arms wide and announcing their name. The band answer in kind, ripping into a furious performance of Wait And Bleed that transforms the mild-mannered audience into a violent mob. Two of the television cameras were pulled in the maelstrom, leading a shocked Evans to remark “we still don’t know where one of them is.”
3. Linkin Park, Jay-Z and Paul McCartney perform at the Grammy Awards
The year was 2006. Linkin Park and Jay-Z’s Numb/Encore was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards, so it was expected that the band and rapper would perform the song at the ceremony at Los Angeles’ Staples Center (now known as Crypto.com Arena). With an evening’s entertainment provided by the likes of Madonna, U2, Bruce Springsteen and John Legend, the band had an ace up their sleeve: Paul McCartney, who joins the super-collaboration on stage to add The Beatles’ Yesterday into the mix. It’s a mind-boggling moment watching Bennington and McCartney harmonising beautifully while Jay-Z ad libs (“CHEA!” “UH-HUH!”) to the side. It’s something so profoundly weird and ill-advised that it circles back to being amazing again.
2. Korn’s Woodstock 1999 performance
Nu metal’s decade of glory stretched from 1994 to 2003, from Korn’s self-titled debut to Linkin Park’s Meteora, with the whole thing peaking at the turn of the century. But it was Korn’s performance at Woodstock ’99 which stands as nu metal’s mountaintop moment; just watch the furious masses unleashing a megaton bomb of energy as an pent-up answer to Jonathan Davis’ battlecry ‘Are you ready?’ There were other factors at play during the festival, such as oppressive summer temperatures and expensive water prices which would see the New York festival descend into total anarchy. But for the duration of Korn’s set, it was pure, violent catharsis.
1. Fred Durst just being Fred Durst
When it came to choosing the top slot, there was no other option. Fred Durst is nu metal, and you can either compress his career into one crazy-ass moment or let him run the table. When he tattooed Korn bassist Fieldy’s shoulder, it would lead to Limp Bizkit’s first record deal and became a personal contract signed with the Devil himself. The reward? To become the main character of the late 90s and live the wildest life imaginable.
But where do you even begin with his defining moments in that era? He threw a star-studded party at the Playboy Mansion to mark the release of Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water. He duetted with Christina Aguilera. He briefly appeared in Zoolander. He was in a sex tape. And he even blew up a boat as Limp Bizkit played at the MTV Spring Break 2000, which is the most Fred Durst thing he’s ever done.
As Fred himself would put it to CNN in 2003 – in between showing off his hentai figurines – “There’s no guidebook to being Fred Durst.”