By Brian Knop
Every year, metal-heads across the country convene at the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival as it tours the US. This all day event isn’t just about the individual bands on the tour, but also about the collective experience and brotherhood of bringing together fans of various genres of metal. As usual, I grabbed a ticket, sunscreen and water, then headed out for a day of metal and friends.
I arrived at Fiddler’s Green in Denver, CO hoping to catch most, if not all, of the first band. However, my hopes were dashed when I walked up to the gate I entered through last year to find out that it was now “V.I.P. only” and the line to get in was “over there.” I proceeded to attempt to listen to the first two and a half bands as the line slowly snaked it’s way across the parking lot.
As I walked in, Attika grabbed my attention playing some solid melodic metal, although no one seemed to know who was on stage. They were followed by a tight thrash set from Battlecross. Next, I was excited to check out Born of Osiris, because several of my friends have been raving about this band. I was treated to a blistering set of technical and progressive deathcore. Butcher Babies followed with a set that turned away the eager ears of this listener. Motionless In White started to catch my attention until the out of tune vocals sent me back into conversations with friends. I made my way back to the other stage to catch some Job For a Cowboy. The band played a very tight set of brutal death metal. I wasn’t all that excited the last time I saw the band (Gigantour 2008). But this time they left me impressed and wanting more.
After a short break from the stages, I heard Machine Head launch into their hit “Davidian” from their 1994 debut. The band was an obvious crowd favorite, and for good reason – their tight performance and songs that have stood the test of
time. As the band ended, I excitedly took up position for Children of Bodom’s set headlining the outdoor stage. Alexi Laiho treated me to the best guitar work of the evening as they blasted through a set of their classics. Bodom is one of those bands that is most appreciated live where their dueling guitar and keyboard solos are simply mesmerizing. Another show started inside, local heavy hitters, Lola Black, got to close the final outdoor stage.
I made a beeline to the main stage to catch the Viking Metal stylings of Amon Amarth for the first time. The band played a very solid set of melodic death metal. I enjoyed the performance, but the band’s mythological lyrical content failed to connect with an audience that had never heard of them.
Mastodon followed with a good selection of slightly mellower and more progressive metal that also seemed to baffle much of a crowd that was waiting for the headliners. Five Finger Death Punch took the stage to the cheers of a crowd that had been eagerly anticipating the high selling act. The band played an immaculate set, but seemed to lack a bit of enthusiasm and stage energy. This didn’t matter to a crowd of die hard 5FDP fans.
The night topped off with Rob Zombie’s theatrical performance. The wind blew down the curtain covering the set change, and gave the excited crowd a preview of what was to come. Zombie’s show included a wide variety of stage props: a giant mechanical robot with a head similar to the “walkers” in The Empire Strikes back, a 20ft tall dancing devil, a giant radio, a dancing robot, and a pedestal labeled “Zombie.” Despite the cold rain during his set, he captivated the crowd with his classic hits, fantastic stage show, and witty remarks. The band closed out with the White Zombie hit “Thunder Kiss 65,” and Rob Zombie’s own hit “Dragula”
As always, Mayhem Festival was a great time with great friends. Each year brings a variety wide of metal, new bands to discover, classics to enjoy, and “InkSpiration” for us all!
Brian Knop is a Denver based producer and audio engineer at Maximum Level Audio and the lead vocalist and guitarist for Gravity Lies.
Lineup (from first to last):
Thrown Into Exile
Born of Osiris
Motionless In White
Job For a Cowboy
Children of Bodom
Five Finger Death Punch