System Of A Down and Korn kick off US co-headline tour and the setlist is a millennial metalheads' dream

(Image credit: YouTube/Erynn Halvorson)

System Of A Down and Korn kicked off their run of US co-headline shows last night at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The two bands previously played a run of US dates in October 2021 before being forced to postpone their long-awaited Los Angeles stadium shows when SOAD vocalist Serj Tankian contracted COVID. 

In December, an announcement was made that in addition to the rescheduled Los Angeles dates (set for February 4 and 5), the bands would play two further co-headline dates in Phoenix and San Diego, with support from post-metal group Russian Circles. 

Last night (January 31) the bands kicked off this short US co-headline run when they played to 18,000 people in Phoenix, Arizona and the setlists are the things millennial metalheads dreams are made of. We're not drowning amidst an ocean of jealousy, honest. 

Metal Hammer line break

A spectacle fit for arenas

Put aside the fact that System Of A Down and Korn were two of metal's biggest commercial forces at the turn of the millennium, both bands also represent the most influential and creative forces in our world for the past three decades. That alone should tell you just how special it is to see them sharing a bill, much less playing to 18,000+ people after a drought of shows that has seen most bands (and fans) go nowhere near a venue for two years plus. 

Fittingly, the visuals from the shows are everything we could want from a massive metal double-header, stunning visuals reminding us just how excited we should be for any arena-size metal gigs in 2022. 

And a combined set that effectively describes the best of millennial metal

With a combined total of 41 songs between them, Korn and System Of A Down weren't mucking about when it came to picking out their setlists. Any double-header that can start with Here To Stay and end on Sugar is one to be admired, but when you consider it also meanders through the likes of Falling Away From Me, Got The Life, Shoots And Ladders, Coming Undone, Freak On A Leash, BYOB, Chop Suey!, Radio/Video, Aerials and Toxicity on the way, jeez. As one fan put it, this setlist is everything. 

Fans couldn't be more delighted

Considering the many delays to getting fully on the road (System Of A Down's Los Angeles shows were originally planned for summer 2020), there's a sense of relief inherent just to the fact that the shows happened in the first place. That they went off as well as they did however, is an absolute bonus and the reports on social media were glowing. 

There's nothing purer than seeing people lose their minds to *that* drop in Korn's set

With Korn's new album Requiem out on Friday, we expect there will be plenty of new jams to get stuck into by the time the band's next headline shows roll around. That said, we can't imagine anything whipping the crowd up into a frenzy quite like that drop at the tail-end of Freak On A Leash. God, we've missed that. 

Korn played 'Start The Healing' for the first time

Put it down to a mad end of year or just the fact time seems entirely arbitrary since the pandemic hit, but it feels like ages since Korn first unveiled Start The Healing - the first single from Requiem. Except, the single actually only came out in November, meaning we've barely had it three months now and last night marked the first time the band played it live. The fact it didn't stick out amidst a tightly-packed 14-song setlist bodes well for the song, Start The Healing already feeling like a crowd-pleaser even before its parent album comes out. 

System Of A Down played 27 songs!

You can't help but feel System Of A Down might have pulled a fast one on Korn, considering their set featured no less than 27 songs in the evening (compared to 14 Korn tracks). While we get SOAD can usually blast through a lot of quick numbers to round out the numbers, that's an obscene amount of idiosyncratic brilliance being brought to bear, particularly when the likes of Prison Song, Cigaro, Soldier Side, BYOB and Toxicity all get trotted out. There's nothing like listening to half of System Of A Down's discography in one headline set to remind you why the band are just so brilliant in the first place. 

Including a few newer tracks

We don't want to come off as greedy or anything, but System Of A Down's Genocidal Humanoidz came out in November 2020 - almost 14 months ago. We understand that it was a 15-year wait before that, but Korn have a new album out on Friday. C'mon lads, step it up. We're being facetious of course, but it is incredibly gratifying to see the newer songs so proudly displayed in SOAD's set, showing just how great that spark of inspiration still is when the mood strikes the band right. 

People still can't quite get their heads around System Of A Down's Sugar

Never mind that Sugar is almost 25 years old (God, when did that happen?), the song remains one of metal's weirdest (but no less wonderful) anthems. That doesn't stop it completely confounding audiences who try to sing along, mind - from spitting the verses until all the words jumble into one or shouting 'sugar!' at the wrong point, its a chaotic mess and we utterly adore it. 

Even from the rafters the show looks spectacular

Its an inevitability of arena shows that somebody has to sit in the nosebleeds, but as the below video shows sometimes that just offers a bird's eye view of something spectacular... 

We'd quite like System Of A Down back this side of the Atlantic in 2022

Way back in the mists of time, System Of A Down and Korn were both booked for Download 2020. Obviously the pandemic put a hold on that happening, but despite the fact Download has retained mostly the same line-up (Korn are still there, hooray!) the lack of System Of A Down is pretty glaring after seeing all the footage of these shows. But you know what? That's fine - perhaps we can hold out hope of a SOAD headline show or even tour announcement before the end of 2022. It's been 7 years since the band played Wembley Arena and we reckon it's high time we get some more arena dates lined up. Hell, we'd even go for stadiums - Rammstein seem to be doing alright out of it, after all. 

Seeing a sea of metalheads *still* gets us insanely emotional

The worst of lockdown might be behind us (we hope!) and live music might have made a return, but it's still been fairly slim pickings for arena-sized rock and metal gigs over the past 12 months. Considering we're still seeing tours cancel or postpone (Aerosmith, Sabaton) we're not entirely sure when arena-sized metal gigs will come back to the UK (our fingers are crossed for Ghost, especially after seeing the band's first US date) but even if we were guaranteed to have some massive shows in the next few weeks, it wouldn't stop us getting a little choked up seeing a full arena gathering to celebrate heavy metal. More of this in 2022, please. 

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Korn Setlist

Korn Setlist
Here to Stay
Falling Away From Me
Start the Healing
Got the Life
Rotting in Vain
Shoots and Ladders
Coming Undone
Y'All Want a Single
Freak on a Leash|
It's On! / Trash / Did My Time

System Of A Down setlist

Prison Song
Holy Mountains
Mind (Intro)
Deer Dance
Soldier Side (Intro)
Soldier Side
Genocidal Humanoidz
Chop Suey!
Lonely Day
Lost in Hollywood
Dreaming (Bridge)
Chic 'N' Stu
Protect the Land

Korn's new album Requiem is due February 4 via Loma Vista. This Thursday (February 3) the band will play a special livestream set in an intimate LA Church to celebrate the album's launch. 

The band play Download Festival on June 12. 

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.