Let the Mayhem Begin!
Let the Mayhem begin. Although each year Rockstar Mayhemfest kicks off on a weekend, the annual event in its third year, should be declared a holiday for metal fans. This year on July 10, 2010 in Devore, CA was prefaced with excitement by fans throughout Southern California, all the bands on what top-to-bottom was packed with some elite names in metal, as well as by the sponsors including Hollywood Music. Day one of metal heads Christmas, 4th of July and NYE rolled into one broke the adage of “the fantasy is better than the reality,” as the summer tour delivered a fun-filled day of kick ass music and good times. Hollywood Music TV and Hollywood Music Magazine were there to catch it all.
From the first chord after the gates opened to the closing of headliner KORN’s set, the tens of thousands of concert goers were treated to the best of metal, entertainment, friends, merchandise, meet and greets from the bands and signings, as well as the extreme MX free-stylings of Metal Mulisha. The pits were insane during the hottest part of the day in the Inland Empire and nobody seemed to mind. Throughout the day, I had the chance to talk to some of the bands and Rob Arnold, lead guitarist of Chimaira revealed that on-stage, the heat wasn’t that bad and what made it less noticeable was the adrenaline and reception from the crowd when they performed on the Jagermeister stage. Although Chimaira is a major act, with a huge following worldwide and a 10 year history of being a major player in the metal scene, Arnold, as well as Chris Spicuzzi (keyboards) and Matt Devries (guitar) intimated that their more recent history of playing in the L.A. area has been less than stellar as far as the crowd’s reception.
What started this conversation was me personally apologizing (and Rob remarking about my Chimaira logo tattoo. Yes, really.) for the “L.A. crowd” when I was in attendance at a show they played November 28, 2009 at the Palladium in Hollywood with Hatebreed, Cannibal Corpse, , Whitechapel, and Trivium when the crowd was quiet, still and downright boring for Chimaira. However, it could be seen in Mark Hunter’s (vocals) face, that the Mayhem performance reversed this Southern California blemish on the bands opinion of playing here. Hunter fed off the thousands of people packed nuts-to-butts in front of the stage, hornz hailing, pits moving, crowd surfing and just general brutality in reaction to every song.
Each and every band on the Jagermeister and Silver Star stages put it all on the line and let the crowd set the tone of the day, That tone was nothing short of the festival title: Mayhem!!!!!! In This Moment closed their set with Maria Brink demanding the crowd form a female only circle pit with their last song. The Hatebreed fans did the same but a co-ed circle pit around the sound board at the Jager stage. Sangre’s set featured The Great Tortilla War as hundreds of corn tortillas with Sangre’s logo on one side and Jagermeister’s logo on the other, were flying around through the crowd and from the stage throughout their punishing 20 minute set. As Shadows Fall started their set, you could see the throngs of people that just entered the venue, running to be sure to not miss the band. All afternoon, through Atreyu’s closing there was a vibe in the air that you could almost see which reflected how incredible this show was and that was just the start. The blood really started to pump as the temperatures started to cool and the show moved to the main stage.
Five Finger Death Punch unveiled their “ready-for-battle” stage theme and broke into “Burn it Down,” to the frenetic clamor or the crowd. Ivan Moody (vocals), who is one of the friendliest guys you will meet in music, oozed angry passion with the delivery of every lyric to every song and the fans went wild showing 5FDP that they all know their songs…throwing back every lyric on cue. With true fan appreciation, Moody came off the stage to shake hands with the fans at the front during his ardent delivery of 5FDP’s cover of the Bad Company classic “Bad Company.”
Lamb of God absolutely annihilated the Inland Empire and delivered every bit of the live performance I have almost come to expect every time I have seen them…and so much more. The chants “LAMB OF GOD…LAMB OF GOD…LAMB OF GOD!!!!!!!” rippled through the amphitheater and across the lawn as the sun started to set. The announcement by frontman Randy Blythe “This…is…Black Label!” gave instruction to the pit without saying the words…”time for the Wall of Death!!” giving way to the best pit of the day as the crowd parted like the Red Sea and at the count of 4…slammed, moshed and effected complete chaos like a real LoG crowd would.
Rob Zombie, complete with Joey Jordison (Slipknot, Murderdolls) on drums, thrilled the crowd with all the classic Zombie tunes like “Thunderkiss ’65,” “Dragula,” “Living Dead Girl,” etc. But as with any endeavor Zombie takes on, the pure commitment to his performance is the real entertainment. Great music along with his stage presence is what has always made Rob Zombie an attraction.
The VIP area backstage was a non-stop party all day. Located adjacent to the press area is what makes being VIP backstage at San Manuel for Mayhem an experience. As a metal fan that has made a ton of friends throughout the metal scene in Southern California, in whatever capacity, before I ever had media credentials; just walking through the VIP area is a social scene in itself, seeing so many friends from bands, networks, or fellow fans. Yet, also walking a few yards away, being able to chat with some of my musical heroes including Chimaira, 5FDP, or bands that didn’t perform but were there as fans, makes the whole experience surreal. Yet the area backstage, including the VIP party was a ghost town before the curtain was lifted, revealing a spectacular stage set of oil rigs with streams of flames, operational oil pumps and the nights headliner.
The excitement of most people that were in attendance, peaked with the mere mention that Korn was up next. Did they deliver? In spades!! Always reaching high and opening with their recent release “Oildale: Leave me Alone” (which is the idealogy behind the stage production) Jonathan Davis and Korn ripped through an amazing set with all the energy they are known for. Davis’ almost epileptic antics and one-of-a-kind vocals put a cap on what turned out to be a show that will be talked about for years; among friends or the common thread and conversation starter “Man, were you there for Mayhem 2010?!?!” This show, even beyond the line-up which was incredible, was the best show I have been involved with, been to, seen…however you want to describe it. Kevin Lyman, Mayhem organizer, keeps building a better mouse-trap and if he won’t do it, I will…I guarantee you will have the time of your life. I am already marking my calendar for next years Mayhem, although really it should be marked already when 2011 calendars are printed; like all holidays!!