Rockstar Mayhem Festival - Denver, CO, 8th July 2012
|Event:||Rockstar Mayhem Festival|
|Written by:||D.T. Metal|
Rockstar Mayhem Festival - Denver, CO 8th July 2012 by D.T. Metal (138)
Sometimes it sure does suck not living in Europe with all their cool Open Air Festivals. But in 2008 the founders of the Vans Warped Tour put their heads together and brought us a touring festival like no other. The Rockstar Energy Company was one of the main sponsors from the get go, and therefore the thing was named Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival or short Mayhem Festival.
With entertainment ranging from your "flavor of the month" core band to old timers like Motörhead and Megadeth, it is THE place to be for the summer concert season here in the U S of A. And since it is an outdoor event, the chosen sites are bigger amphitheaters with capacities ranging from 18 to 30 thousand people.
The event site for Colorado metal heads is located in Englewood, CO, a suburb of Denver, and while the place had a few different names and sponsors over the years, the locals will always refer to it as Fiddler's Green. The real name on the other hands is Comfort Dental Amphitheater. Really?
Knowing what type of "mayhem" the Mayhem Festival can cause in regards of picking up the tickets and all required passes, I arrived fairly early on site; or so I thought. One, yep one ticket window combined for will-call, guest list, VIP and media passes, and four ticket counters to purchase a ticket. Needless to say, the line for that ONE window was a mile long while the others were totally unused.
That was a first; in prior years there was a dedicated counter for media, but hey, I weaseled myself to the front of the line because doors were at 1pm in the afternoon with the first band scheduled to play at 1pm in the afternoon. And you guessed it; I did not watch the first band, or the second one for that matter.
By the time I had my credentials and reported to the media coordinator, the first band had already played (winner of the local Battle Of The Bands contest) and the second one (Iconocaust out of Denver) was well into their set.
But first things first; this year's Mayhem Festival only featured one secondary stage instead of two. And not to take away anything from the fans of the bands that didn't get to play in Denver, I actually liked it better this way, way less walking between the two stages and more time to actually enjoy the bands.
And with that; the first band I actually got to watch was Upon A Burning Body. Never saw or even heard of the dudes, but they were pretty good and the crowd sure as hell got into their set. The band members wore dress pants and a vest with shirt and tie; different, but hey whatever sells your records I guess. And I really have nothing against tattoos on one's neck, but having "mom" on one side and "dad" on the other, is well hmmm I don't even know how I feel about this one. But other than their questionable choice of tattoo placements, Upon A Burning Body was actually pretty fun to watch.
Next up was Whitechapel, and since I just reviewed their latest album I was really looking forward to hear some of the new tunes live. Whitechapel is one of those bands that can pull fans from the mainstream music as well as the core scene and they did just that. Yes, there were definitely a lot of scene kids up close but I witness quite a few "older generation" fans that really got into their set. Of course with a total of 45 minutes playing time, Whitechapel had to pick and choose what to play, and I was extremely stoked that they played "Possibilities Of An Impossible Existence", a new song and one of my favorites off the new album.
As I Lay Dying was the next band on stage and the crowd was even more active in the crowd surfing department than before. Even though the overall atmosphere of their music is more "melodic" than their peers, As I Lay Dying didn't hold back one bit. Their vocalist was all over the place, literally, hardly standing still at all. I have seen them a bunch of times over the years and they never disappointed me with their a) set or b) stage performance.
The Mayhem Festival organizers also take really good care of all the media outlets present. We have a dedicated area to conduct interviews (I had some scheduled, but stuff fell apart last minute), sit around, or just take a breather while enjoying some FREE water, courtesy of Rockstar Energy of course. And this is where I was during Asking Alexandria's set, so I have no clue how and why and what happened during their set. I was enjoying some much needed shade and did some major bull-shi ehm networking, yeah, that's it, with the other photographers there.
Halfway refreshed I made my way back over to the stage just as Anthrax started their set with "Caught In A Mosh". And wow, shit hit the fan early on with Anthrax. The photo pit security had their hands full and after the band's second song, we all were politely shown the way out, since the sea of crowd surfers was never ending.
Anthrax was great that day, and even though they didn't play on the main stage, by choice that is, the crowd somehow seemed bigger than for their predecessors. At one point during their set Scott Ian addressed the fans with: "Usually I have to stop playing at this point and tell everybody to liven up, but not you guys. You all have this shit covered!" And he was absolutely spot on. With multiple circle pits, crowd surfers up the ass and most everybody chanting and singing along the Mile High fans definitely showed their love for Anthrax that day.
Unfortunately Charlie Benante was absent that day, due to a hand injury I believe, but Shadows Fall's drummer Jason Bittner was once again a worthy replacement. And just to set the record straight; the great debate of Bush vs. Belladonna is lost on me since I prefer Joey over John any day. There, I said it!
I actually make a point of not missing Anthrax when they come through town and therefore I stayed on the side of the stage for their entire performance. This coincidentally meant that I missed my chance to get into the photo pit for the first band on the main stage that evening; The Devil Wears Prada. Sorry folks, but thrash before anything else.
On that note; in prior years there was at least a little interlude between the end of the side stage acts and before the main stage bands played, but apparently not this year. Oh well, at least this opened up a window to grab something to eat; stuff brought from home, since the prices of food and drinks were OUTRAGEOUS, to say the least. 10 dollars for a fricking cup of beer, really?
Well anyways, after heading to the main stage and the sound of "air-raid sirens" coming from the speakers, everybody knew it was time for the first "real" band that night; Motörhead. And since I haven't seen them in a couple of years, I was really looking forward to soaking up some good old fashion Rock 'n Roll.
And rock they did! Starting off with songs from albums which were released in the 70's, I knew this would shape up to be a great performance. After playing "Bomber" and "Damage Case", Motörhead switched gears and played "I Know How To Die" off their 2010 album The Wörld Is Yours.
At one point during their performance Lemmy told the crowd he was sorry for canceling the gig in Denver during Gigantour (which also featured Megadeth, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil) since he was sick and lost his voice for a couple of days, and hoped to make up for it that night. And yes, they sure did. Playing a little under an hour, Motörhead left no leaf unturned and ended their set with their all time classics "Ace Of Spades" and "Overkill".
Lemmy looked and sounded great that day. Gee whiz, the man is almost 67 years old and still knows how to rock a crowd, in short: Lemmy IS God!
Then a giant white curtain came down in front of the stage to block the view for the set-up for the next band. And finally, after what seemed like a life time, and under the chants: SLAAAYER, SLAAAYER, SLAAAYER, the curtain was raised to the sounds of "Disciple".
I have seen Slayer soooo many times that the magic of their appeal to the masses is somewhat lost on me. Don't get me wrong, I still love me some Slayer and it's always nice to watch them live since they never disappoint.
Once again, Gary Holt from Exodus filled in for Jeff Hanneman on guitar since poor Jeff is still out because of this ordeal with a spider bite. And on that note, since Exodus had touring commitments in Europe, none other than prior guitarist Rick Hunolt was filling in for Gary over there. Anyway, even though Gary is a great fit in Slayer, I sure do miss Jeff and hope for a full recovery.
Slayer shredded through their set and left no prisoners. I particularly liked that they slowed things down a bit with "Seasons In The Abyss" before commencing to rip everybody a new one with "Hell Awaits". Wow, and Tom Araya by the way still has it, and his scream on the beginning of "Angel Of Death" sure did send shivers down my spine.
While the first encore "South Of Heaven" was played mostly under green lights, all of a sudden the stage filled with smoke and a sea of red lights. Kerry King's guitar was squealing and in tune with Dave Lombardo's drumming off "bom bom bom", the gigantic inverted crosses on either side of the stage were spitting out flames. At this point, I was going to spell out the riff for "Raining Blood" but it looked kinda weird, and if you never heard this song, well, you are clearly reading the wrong web site.
Now like I mentioned before, I have seen Slayer a ton of times, but THIS was by far one of the best shows I have seen them perform in a while. Even though Kerry King had some pedal issues earlier in the set, they sounded extremely tight from start to finish. All Hail Slayer!
Then it was time for the headliner of the evening; the almighty Slipknot! Unfortunately I was not granted a photo pass from the band; me and about 25 plus other photographers in Denver that is! No big deal, since Slipknot is a band better watched from further away than right up front to get the entire effect of their show.
And what a show it was! Even though I am not a hard core Slipknot fan, I really did enjoy their set. Other than Joey Jordison on the main drums, they had two drum sets (with just drums) on either side of the stage; both spun around but only one was also on a lift set and went up and down. Guitarist Jim Root was missing from the line-up and Corey Taylor explained he had his appendix removed and would join the band once he is fully recovered.
And of course the big, huge void that the passing of bassist Paul Gray left was felt throughout the venue. His bass guitar was respectfully displayed right next to the drum kit and illuminated during their entire performance. At one point Corey Taylor gave a little speech about how their main reason to play was to celebrate the life of Paul Gray and that no matter where Slipknot played in Denver, it was always about "family".
So he asked the audience to sing a song for Paul that night and just started off with: "I push my fingers into my " and the entire venue screamed EYES! Wow, what a great way to start "Duality". As a matter of fact, the entire evening was one big audience participation show; and even I found myself screaming some of the lyrics.
Say what you will about Slipknot, but they sure as hell put on a great live show. But, to avoid the 18,000 people trying to leave the venue, I decided to split a bit early, and not a moment to soon I might add. Five years in covering the Rockstar Mayhem Festival and this was the first year it rained; and not just a little sprinkle, but a major downpour.
While driving down the interstate on my way home I reflected back on the day and I am honestly already looking forward to the "mayhem" in 2013. And while all the bands were great that day, and not to take anything away from the headliner, Slayer was the band I enjoyed watching the most.
Since this was their second time playing right before the main act, maybe it's time for the mighty Slayer to finally headline this thing!
For some more visuals check the gallery link right HERE and for more info on this annual Festival check out the official site here.
In closing I would like to thank the folks over at Adrenaline PR for once again making the Festival a great success.
Written on 26.07.2012 by
Professional concertgoer ... dangerously armed with a camera!
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