Archive | July, 2012

Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2012

22 Jul

Rockstar Energy Mayhem Music Festival

Maryland Heights, MO.

Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

July 20, 202

You know what’s missing from from the big summer music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza etc.? Some bone crushing head banging heavy as hell metal music! Don’t quote me on this but so far this year I’ve seen Coheed and Cambria pop up on one fetival, The Hangout Festival in gulf Shores Alabama. That needs to change. In the meantime, the annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival is here to fulfill your metal needs. Since The Shark Sandwich believes in checking out all forms of music available and we noticed that three high on the list bands Slayer, Mötörhead, and Anthrax were all a part of the festivities this year we thought we should go and have a look.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The “Shark Sandwich” requested a press pass and was denied. Strike one, Mayhem Festival powers that be! Had I been given the credentials requested I would have been able to bring a better camera, for fear a being accused of recording and thusly kicked out! Also it would have been nice to get some better insights on the workings of this yearly metal fest, I’m just trying to help you get the word out!

A great band, Psychostick, was booked to play first on the side stage. The venue doors opened at 1:00. The band started at 1:30 and was scheduled to play all of TWENTY minutes! Verizon Wireless Amphitheater is a huge outdoor shed that only has one entrance with about five checkpoints and turnstiles for EVERYONE TO GO THROUGH which resulted in a major backup. It took almost an hour to get in! By then the event had already started and I missed the opportunity to see Psychostick. Can I and everyone who lost out be refunded a small portion of our tix for the lost time? Strike Two!

I was planning to watch some bands, get a feel for things, enjoy the performances, then on my way out of the venue pick up a few t-shirts. But on my way out the merch stands that had been crammed over by the second and third stages, were shut down and packed up! It’s not uncommon for people to pick up merch after a show to avoid having to tote them around all day. Wise up to this, people want merch, you fill the need, money is made, its economics 101. Strike Three, You’re out!

Another small blunder was directly after Whitechapel played the Jägermeister stage.  Sid Wilson, also known as #0 in Slipknot surprised everyone with a DJ spot, which was cool, but at the same time not twenty feet away The Metal Mulisha fired up the bikes and began doing stunts. Some poor fellow was trying his hardest to talk into a mic and explain the stunts and give out various info bits but was easily overpowered by the speakers from the stage. Occasionally the poor fellow could be heard exclaiming, “Can you even hear me?”

Metal Mulisha flying through the air!

Now the good. After a brutal summer of tortuous heat with temps topping into the triple digits, the weather cooperated and the temps broke off into the upper 80’s with overcast skies and a nice breeze blowing all day. It was a very pleasant day to be outside listening to the rage filled metal grunts and growls. Meanwhile, it looked as though a Hot Topic store had exploded and all the clothing, jewelry, hair dye and what not fell onto the fans milling about, but that’s O.K. that’s what the kids love.

I’m sure openers Psychostick were engaging and hilarious. The Shark Sandwich loves bands that have a sense of humor and was looking forward to catching their set, but as said before, thanks to the long line to enter all I got was to hear them while looking at the side of a Jägermeister trailer. They were given a criminally short set time of only twenty minutes.They sounded great though, and got some chuckles from the patrons waiting in line with me. Definitely make time to check them out!

The Mayhem Festival is set up so that the second stage, the Jägermeister stage, and the third stage, the Sumerian stage, all lead up to the main stage. I actually walked past the Sumerian “stage” at first, as I was expecting an actual stage set up and not the tent that was located between a couple of other booths. Several of the performers actually had to duck to avoid hitting the heads on the front of the tent!  A local band contest winner played this stage first, Shadows Collapse, from Columbia, MO. did a fine job in their very short set and it is easy to see why they won. Hopefully we will be hearing more from them.

Shadows Collapse

Dirtfedd out of Lincoln, NE. is band you need to be excited about if you love metal. Their set was packed with the power, intensity and rage you love to see in a metal band. I was a fan instantly. This band’s album “The American Nightmare” was produced by Shawn Crahan, or #8 from Slipknot. Check it out, you’ll love it. Shout out to vocalist’s Dustin Travel’s aunt and her friend who were at the show and happened to sit in front of me, and take pity on me, when they overheard me explain to my friend on the phone that I was at a concert and no one would come with me! (even though I had opted to come alone to better take in the festival!) You meet the coolest folks at metal shows.

Dirtfedd rocks the Sumerian stage.

Betraying the Martyrs rocked the Jägermeister stage. This band is from Paris, France. I have to be honest here and say that I’m not the hugest fan of the “metalcore” scene, I’m more of a doom metal, thrash metal kind of guy. Don’t get me wrong I can listen to a few songs and enjoy them immensely, but after a short while it all seems to run together to me. So BTM benefited from an early set time for me. BTM and a couple of the other bands had a keyboard player and, maybe it was just me, but I couldn’t hear that part of the mix at all. I’m picky about things like that. The mosh pit was hearty and thrashing nicely.

Betraying The Martyrs rocking the Jägermeister stage.

It was at this time I happened to be standing near a booth that Shawn “Clown” Crahan was signing autographs at. So I hopped in line got the poster for him to sign and had a very short wait while talking to some cool dudes about my “A Clockwork Orange” t-shirt and Kubrick films. Metal fans are so cool and friendly. I got up to meet Shawn and handed my camera to his assistant and posed for a photo opp. Of course, being that I brought the crappy camera the photo didn’t take! Shawn then asked for the envelope the poster came in. Unfortunately, I had folded it up and shoved it in my pocket thinking I would not use it again. Shawn needed it to put the poster in and seal it up! That’s quality service, most celebs would just scribble on whatever and push it back at you. Slipknot gives and gives some more, mad respect.

After that I caught the tail end of the Whitechapel set. Which begs me to ask, why the painfully short set times? Most of these bands come on, barely have time to work up a sweat and then poof! They are gone. Whitechapel is a bit of a switch up in that they are “deathcore.” I imagine a proper setting for this type of music would be a dark club, but Mayhem being an outdoor set up, it is what it is. So Whitechapel blew it out anyway. The moshers were out in force here too.

The Sumerian stage finished out the day with I, The Breather a christian metalcore band from Baltimore, MD. and Upon a Burning Body a deathcore unit from San Antonio, Texas. I have to admit when I see a band affiliated with the christian rock tag I lose a lot of interest. Its just not my bag. Sure the music is brutal and intense and very much metal but, faith and rock do not go together like peanut butter and chocolate for me. So don’t get all fired up and write e-mails and stuff. If you love it, then good for you, by all means jump right in and have a blast. I’m just saying, it’s not for me. I’m not anti religion either, I just don’t mix it with my rock is all O.K.! We good? Let’s move on. UABB gave an energetic go and I was quite amused at watching the cops who were off to the side of the stage looking bored and annoyed at having drawn the assignment of the festival. Kudos to the crowd, I did not notice one single incident where cops had to be used.

The Jägermeister stage ended the day with “metalcore” heavyweights  Asking Alexandria from England and The Devil Wears Prada from Dayton, OH. (Another christian rock band, and the band name, uuummmmm…) You could look around the crowd and notice a distinct age difference, it seems the younger crowd were there to take in the metalcore bands, while the older folks like myself, were there to take in the thrash bands Anthrax and Slayer and rockers Mötörhead. So I took in AA and DWP with open ears and found it entertaining.  You can definitely say all these bands did not lack for energy and passion. Each one of them gave a thousand percent. Also, these bands all took the time to make themselves available for the fans and autographs and pictures. Good to see that kind of giving attitude and acknowledgement toward fans.

After DWP there was a mass exodus of the youngsters who I guess didn’t want to be thoroughly rocked by Anthrax. That’s too bad Anthrax kills live. One of the big questions of the tour was “Why are Anthrax on the second stage?” General consensus says that Anthrax opted to headline the second stage for better access to fans and a longer set time. Who cares about that anyway, seeing Anthrax anywhere is worth it. The kids who left missed out on a barrage of hit after hit delivered at break neck pace. “Antisocial” “I Am The Law” “Indians
and opening salvo “Caught In A Mosh” all thrashed and rocked perfectly. They threw in a few songs off the new album “Worship Music” which is quite good. Unfortunately, drummer Charlie Benante, was not present due to the ill health of his mother. Brian Fair of Shadows Fall filled in nicely. To me the Joey Belladonna era of Anthrax is the best, so it’s good to see him back in the fold.

Clearest shot I was able to take of Anthrax! Stupid camera.

As I Lay Dying were the first band to hit the main stage. AILD falls into that christian rock thing again, so its a struggle for me to absorb it. Although there were many kids who were full on absorbing it, so good on them. I spent the majority of their set trying to qualify how their band name, taken from the William Faulkner novel “As I Lay Dying” correlates to what the message is. Answer, none whatsoever, I guess they just thought it sounded cool. You should read the book and get some classics under your belt.

And then it was time for a tried and true rock god to emerge. Lemmy Kilmeister and the boys from Mötörhead did not disappoint! The first thing he said to the crowd after a blistering opener “Damage Case” was, “Raise your hand if you want it louder!” All hands  went up including mine, “O.K. then turn it up!” Know what’s tragically missing from rock shows these days? Drum solos! Mickey D did not let us down as he pounded out an awesome solo. It was not lost on Lemmy that he was in the hometown of Chuck Berry as he mentioned that when asking the crowd, “Do you like rock n’ roll? Of course you do! Chuck Berry is from here.” Thanks for recognizing Lemmy, I’m sure Chuck was nodding in approval wherever he was.

Here’s a glare filled shot of Mötöhead! Thanks again for the press pass.

Slayer were next on the main stage. Opening with a face melting version of “God Hates Us All” that was bolstered by the crowd singing along. Tom Araya, Dave Lombardo, living guitar god Kerry King and stand in guitarist Gary Holt from Exodus who’s covering for Jeff Hanneman, who’s still recuperating after a bout of flesh eating bacteria, rocked a solid set packed with hit after hit and highlights from the Slayer catalog. Backed by a flaming wall of fire and two inverted cross speaker columns Slayer lived up to its rep as a dark and mysterious and dangerous band. Truth is Tom Araya is one of the most surfer zen chill dudes ever. Slayer will blister and pummel you as if you were having your head slammed in a door and then Tom will walk up to the mic, and calmly say “Hey, how’s everybody doing?” Slayer rules all. The world becomes a better place when Tom Araya yells in staccato blurts. Listen up Coachella, Bonnaroo, and all you other festivals let’s get some metal on your list.

Here’s Slayer’s wall of fire as taken with a sub standard piece of equipment from my horrible seat. Did I mention I wasn’t issued a press pass?

Slipknot headlined the event emerging to a blast of pyro that caught half the crowd off guard including me, good one guys you got me! Its been a tumultuous few years for the band and they seem to be back in form and ready to rock. Their set was full of hits and rocked with an intensity that the band is known for. Their greatest hits album “Antennas To Hell” will be out shortly  so be on the look out for it. Rage on Slipknot, rage on.

A fuzzy out of focus shot of Slipknot, you’re welcome!

So all in all, besides a few minor missteps mainly with planning and set up and possibly more to do with the venue and city ordinances the Mayhem Festival was a good time, with some heavy metal music to make the day even better. And for all you haters out there that decry this music as just screaming, yelling and being a bad influence, here’s what the pledge card read from the “Stand For the Silent” movement that Shawn Crahan handed to everyone who received an autograph from him. The pledge addresses school bullying: “From this day forward, I Promise to respect those around me as well as respect myself. I am somebody, and I can make a difference. I can make another feel loved. I can be the helping hand that leads another back to the path of hope and aspiration. I will not stand silent as others try to spread hatred through my community. Instead, I pledge to lift up these victims, and show them that their life matters. I will be the change because I am somebody.” That’s a pretty powerful message of uplift, hope, and equality especially in these times. For more on that subject check out standforthesilent.com. Now what were you saying about heavy metal being a negative influence again? May metal, in whatever form it comes in, never die! Oh, and next time please issue us a press pass, we’d like to take better photos! Thank you.

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