Review and photos by Keith Perks
I’ve seen Limp Bizkit in three stages of their career. The first opening for Faith No More in Philly back in September of 1997, roughly three months after the release of “Three Dollar Bill, Ya’ll.” They were new to me at the time and many of us in the crowd. Their reception wasn’t the greatest. They played hard and made their way through the set, but many FNM fans weren’t so welcoming and I remember boos and yelling as the band made their way off the stage.
The second time around was much different. Remember the hellish chaos that was Woodstock ’99? I was there. They crushed their set and helped ignite the tension of the crowd into something explosive. They made national news for all the wrong reasons. “Break Stuff” was a signature song of theirs and a crowd favorite. Fred Durst surfed the crowd on plywood as fans literally started to “break stuff.” It was a very hot and expensive few days. You could feel the unease in the air and Limp Bizkit was fuel to the fire at that moment. It’s a shame what had happened, but it sure was something to witness.
Both of these times were prior to me being a concert photographer. I was a kid finding his way through the’ 90s and at the time was into a little bit of everything, including the “nu-metal” that was all over MTV and the airwaves.
Limp Bizkit continued on after Woodstock and the release of their successful “Significant Other” album with 2000’s “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.” It had mixed reviews but was named one of the 20 Best Metal Albums of 2000 by Metal Hammer. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 1,054,511 copies in its first week, but critics weren’t as impressed.
A few years later, “Results May Vary” was released with even less favorable reviews. Mike Smith of Snot stepped in for this recording as Wes Borland stepped away from the band in 2001.
In 2005, Borland had returned and the band released an EP called “The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1)” with Sammy Siegler on drums during John Otto’s brief departure. This release was much different than the others as Limp Bizkit’s rap/rock sound was absent and the band took to a different and more experimental direction covering darker topics in their lyrics. It was released pretty much out of nowhere with little to no advertising or promotion and sold 37,000 in its first week. Reviews were again mixed, but Borland was praised for his return and guitar work.
I remember during this time transitioning from the late ’90s into the 2010s the Limp Bizkit shine started to slowly fade and dull. More and more comments were made about the band and the “nu-metal” music style.
Over the years, I would break out CDs from bands such as Korn, Soulfly, Static-X, Coal Chamber, P.O.D. and Limp Bizkit for nostalgic reasons. Some bands such as Chevelle, Deftones and Korn have tweaked their sound and image and are still at it today touring and producing albums with much success.
However, I never gave up on Limp Bizkit. While sometimes, yes, it was a nostalgic thing for me, LB was good. Damn good. Their music and entire image were that of a party. While the red hats and baggy jeans went away with time, the party was kinda always there for me. The music was fun and what’s so bad about that?
I remember 2011 when “Gold Cobra” came out. It was the band’s fifth studio release and back to the sound that made them popular in the first place. This album presented the original lineup with Otto back at the kit and sold only 27,000 units in its first week. Not the best in sales or in reviews, but…they were back doing their own thing and it did get people talking again. Some joked, but the thing is, Durst and friends embrace what they’ve created. It was a nostalgic, fantastic-sounding album that Borland was quoted as saying “As far as LB records go, Gold Cobra is perfect.”
So now what? They had a new release and a successful tour and then a decade goes by with some tours and festivals in between. There was writing, more writing, and a bunch of re-writing and at one point Borland said they had about 35 songs, but Durst wasn’t quite happy yet. They signed with Cash Money Records, then parted ways, and songs were left in “development hell.” Plus, I imagine a new release would have been sooner, but ya know…pandemic. The band popped back up again like they usually do, seemingly out of nowhere and this time at Lollapalooza with some “dad vibes.”
Durst’s new look was all over social media. Were LB back? Yes! Wait! No! They canceled their new summer tour “out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of the band, crew and most of all the fans.”
Finally, in October of 2021, Durst announced the release of their sixth full-length album, “Still Sucks,” which would be released on Halloween. This album was referred to as the “Chinese Democracy of Nu Metal,” but was it worth the wait? Yes. It was glorious in true LB fashion. It’s classic and crunchy and filled with grooves delivering what they are best known for. Party songs with attitude.
As of writing this, it has still yet to be produced as a physical copy.
So, now what? With the nu-metal, rap/rock, Jacksonville quintet making news again they set out on a tour with a stop in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. This was my third time seeing them and this time it was with a camera in hand.
This was the most excited I had been about photographing a concert in a long time. I wanted fun and they delivered.
The joke of Limp Bikzit being Limp Bizkit it not lost on them. They have haters as much as they have fans and that I think drives them, but over the years any real fan has noticed that they’re in on it. Hell, the new album and tour are called “Still Sucks.”
At this stop they brought along openers Scowl from Santa Barbara, Calif., $not (the rapper NOT the band…see the “$” for the difference) from Pampano Beach, Fla. (who has an apparent thing for tight hoodie openings) and Wargasm (UK), the electro-punk, nu-metal, rock duo made up of model/photographer Milkie Way and Sam Matlock of London.
While it wasn’t a full arena show, the stage was set up in about one-third of the venue, and the crowd showed up with enough angst and energy to fill the entire arena.
Durst hit the stage only to sit down on a recliner, but this time sans the “dad vibes” outfit that was popping up on the internet, this time looking a bit more like someone straight out of NEPA. A little blue-collar, a little redneck, but still a whole lotta “dad.”
I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face when I was in the photo pit. I was shooting a bucket list band with several of my favorite local photographers. That vibe, well, it kept Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ the entire night.
They kicked off their set with “Dad Vibes” and went into “Out of Style,” and then “Dirty Rotten Bizkit” with a DJ Lethal interlude of Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time,” which got the crowd dancing, laughing and singing. Durst still has got the moves. Lethal had a couple more memory lane interludes with “Jump Around”, “Careless Whisper” and “Genie in a Bottle.” The band even jammed some Pearl Jam, Pantera and Nirvana with an “Alive,” “Cowboys from Hell” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” medley.
They also performed “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle),” Hot Dog” (with a little Megadeth), “Nookie,” “Full Nelson” and got the entire venue going with a cover of a fan-assisted “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine. That fan was so good Durst told him he could go backstage, but then changed his mind to let him sit in his recliner for the remainder of the show!
“Break Stuff” has gone down in history as something tied very close to the darker side of Woodstock ’99. Durst had commented earlier on in the night that they were asked by the promoter to NOT play it. This statement was being made just days after the cancellation of their Hollywood, Fla., concert stating concerns of “Possible Chaos & Injuries.” The crowd booed when the statement was made because it’s a great damn song.
Two things stood out for me during this entire concert. One being this Woodstock-carnage-starting-band and all of its controversy and ego showed heart and a lot of it for the crowd. In their almost 30 years of existence they haven’t quite slowed down any, and maybe they haven’t even matured much, but their decency and respect for their fans were seen and felt. So much so, that Durst called on a young fan named Thomas to come up on stage and sing along with him. The kid’s excitement was palpable. Durst had him kick the song off singing the opening line “If only we could fly!” He swayed back and forth nervously at times looking to his father in the crowd as he stood across from Durst singing parts of “My Generation.” Being a band for so long you get a variety of fans young and old. This outreach was one that made me and the crowd smile and cheer that kid on.
The second moment that stood out was when the night came to a close and like an SNL ending (with the actual closing credits song being played), Durst called out the opening bands to take the stage with them to say goodnight and then said…”Oh, wait a minute. Wait. Wait. Let’s play what we forgot.” And with a few strums of Borland’s guitar it was Rome, N.Y., Woodstock ’99 again and we all sang “Its just one of those days. Where you don’t want to wake up. Everything is fucked. Everybody sucks. You don’t really know why, but you want to justify…Rippin’ someone’s head off!”
At that moment I watched the crowd go apeshit, I recalled them opening up in Philly seeing them for the first time, and now here in my hometown 25 years later, and I also thought of my friend and general manager of Mohegan, Will Beekman, and wondered how much he was sweating it out at that moment.
Limp Bizkit’s Still Sucks Tour wasn’t a concert. It was a party and we all had so much fun.
Is Limp Bizkit back? No. They never went anywhere! The Dirty Rotten Bizkit love the hate. For those that still poke fun? “I think you better quit lettin’ shit slip, or you’ll be leaving with a fat lip.”