“We had these guys stomp out a 700ft crop circle”: The story of when Korn played a concert surrounded by corn

Korn performing in a cornfield
(Image credit: Roadrunner Records)

In 2010, Korn wanted to return to their roots. Although the nu metal pioneers had been able to retain their stature through their genre’s mid-noughties decline, the period had still been tumultuous for them as a collective. Foundational members Brian “Head” Welch and David Silveria had gone and, following their 2007 untitled album, the trio left behind didn’t even have a record label to call home.

Jonathan Davis and the boys responded with their aptly titled ninth record, Remember Who You Are. They threw back to their seminal ’90s period by rehiring producer Ross Robinson, who twiddled the dials on the groundbreaking Korn and followup Life Is Peachy. The untitled predecessor’s industrial clang was stripped away, and the band even recorded with analogue equipment to cultivate an old-school vibe.

Most impressive, however, was when Korn doubled down on keeping things close to home for a promotional concert in the aftermath of the release. They held it in the band’s birthplace of Bakersfield, California, to a grand total of zero fans. The only “audience” presence were camera operators, as this would be a gig in the middle of a cornfield. Get it? Because Korn.

According to an interview with lead singer Davis, the band were inspired to perform the spectacle by Pink Floyd. The prog superstars similarly played to a film crew only in 1972, except they were recorded in a Roman amphitheatre amidst the ruins of Pompeii, Italy. To get the cornfield ready for such a show, Korn flew a team in and got them to flatten out some crop circles in an enormous formation.

“I live in Bakersfield, which has a big wheatfield,” Davis told Amoeba Music in 2018. “We had these guys from London fly over and stamp out a 700ft crop circle, and we [performed] in the middle of it.”

Then, as the sun set on a June evening, Korn rallied through 90 minutes of new tracks and classics in the open air. The band’s long-serving members – Davis, guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer and bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu – were joined by new full-time drummer Ray Luzier, along with live keyboardist/singer Zac Baird and fill-in guitarist Shayne Gibson. The collective together conveyed the frenetic tension of the Remember Who You Are material, yet also made the familiar tunes far heavier to boot. While Coming Undone is even more of a stomper in its live form, Here To Stay’s hard rock swagger gets hammered home with unquestionable strength and Falling Away From Me sinks to even greater depths of sonic depravity.

All the while, the sunset keeps the entire show visually fresh, with natural light gradually diminishing and being replaced by artificial effects. The insidiousness of Freak On A Leash’s verses is perfectly complemented by the smoke creeping past, before Got The Life, with those flaring spotlights in the pitch black, becomes the ideal seedy late-night anthem.

Korn’s cornfield concert was released later in 2010 as a US cable TV and Myspace event, and to this day only remains available for home viewing if you buy it as the bonus DVD on the Path Of Totality album (or if you find it on YouTube). As a result, this has become something of a hidden curio in the band’s 30-year history. And, given the inventiveness and musical talent on show, that’s a crying shame.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.