July 30, 2011
The 2011 Mayhem Fest, atleast on paper, came off like a weak billing with headliners Godsmack & Disturbed being the main attraction(s) for the event but to be very truthful with you, the 2011 Mayhem Fest was perhaps the most interesting celebration of all things "metal" that toured across the USA on a large scale in 2011!
The show I decided to cover was the one considered my "hometown" show which took place in Bristow, Virginia.....I still have no clue how a Bristow, Virginia show can be considered a "Maryland" tour stop, but such is the case & when I arrived at the venue I could hear the ending of Straight Line Stitches set.
The day was quite pleasant, the sun was shining, it was warm outside, the venue was super lax as far as security went and the crowd was far from packed yet there was enough people there to create a nice sized mosh pit and fill in all the concession areas which made it a fun concert for the early afternoon.
The show did not totally sell out BUT by the time Godsmack took the stage the entire venue was filled....more on that in a bit though.
My day started off with a phone call that placed a smile on my face for the entire day & it was interesting how everything on this day was just perfect after that call.
The first band I caught this day was Red Fang & this was an interesting show for the guys because they played this show without their singer/bassist & as the guys told it from the stage their singer/bassist had drank way too much the night before & was sick, puking & could not take the stage so they decided to just play the show without bass & their rhythm guitarist took over the vocals.
Red Fang's set was a strong one full o' stoner rock riffs & punk rock energy. There were definite moments in the set where the 2 guitars would play harmonies & they needed the bass fill to keep the rhythm & the low end together but under the circumstances I'd say they did the best they could do & their set sounded awesome even without a bass player!
Red Fang declared midway through their set, "Who needs bass anyways?" and they did a good job without a bass player...interesting to note that their singers guitar heavily worked on & altered...it looked like something you might see someone tossing in the trash honestly but it sounded decent.
All Shall Parish's set was sludgy & intense & the bands singer remained hidden under his mop of hair for most of the set with just occasional appearances here & there.
Suicide Silence reminded me of quite a few bands from that modern hardcore genre & their singer was super skinny yet commanded your attention with his mix of screams & vocals...I found some of their guitar work to be interesting & they had a nice sized pit that created a dirt storm throughout the crowd. I'll admit that when the dirt storm started that sh*t was nasty to breathe in but it was kinda hard to avoid if you wanted to watch the band play!
When Kingdom of Sorrow started their set this was where I ran into my buddy John Moyer from Disturbed so I missed the first song or 2 from Kingdom of Sorrow in favor of catching up with John.
Funny story, John & I walked through the entire crowd & John told me that this was the most he'd actually been able to check out any Mayhem Fest show because he couldn't usually walk through the crowd but walking with me I took the attention away from him because he was dressed down while I wasn't. John confirmed to me that Disturbed are taking an extended break at the end of this touring cycle and that it had nothing to do with band turmoil, they just had no plans for their next move and it was time to take a break.
After catching up with John a bit I left the backstage area & darted over to catch Kingdom of Sorrow's set already in progress!
Jasta was sporting a King Diamond shirt & he didn't jump around quite as much at this show which made it easier to get good pics of him...usually Jasta jumps around so much that it's hard to get good pics of him but at this show probably because the stage was smaller, it was much easier to film him.
Kirk plays mostly rhythm guitar in this project & it's funny because he's actually a good lead player but he anchors down the riffage in this project.
Machine Head & Rob Flynn always throws me with their direction they take; sometimes they'll come off super hardcore, then other times they'll show a mellower side....on this day they came out looking more like rockstars than I'd seen them look before; Flynn with his bandana wrapped around his neck & he actually dressed up a bit compared to his hardcore days.
Flynn commented that the last time the band played Mayhem Fest their guitarist had health issues & they were unable to finish the set & they finished their set with the ending that they should have had last time around...I'll say for the record that Machine Head won my vote for coolest guitars at this show; the candy apple red BC Rich Acrylic & the polka dot Jackson looked & sounded amazing!
Unearth's set was solid but what I laughed at was Sushi's blue guitar that was a rip off of Eddie Van Halen's & Unearth are kinda like a frat-boy metal band...they still utilize the beer bong onstage & they are a metal band yet they maintain a "jock" college frat boy quality to them & Buzz is probably the only guy who comes off like a "metal" dude in the band while the rest seem like a metal-frat band & I don't say that in a bad way, I like Unearth, they kick ass & their set was good, they just lacked all the cliche's that the other bands had in excess, Unearth were the band that didn't fall victim to metal parodies.
Also, I can't forget to mention something that I saw & wish I hadn't...the singer for Unearth had what appeared to be either bleach stains or cum stains in his crotch area...you can see it in the pic I posted...I'm just saying, those stains looked mighty comical onstage & if you get onstage infront of people with stains like that in that area people are gonna laugh because I sure did.
In Flames closed out the 2nd stage area & their set was good but I still think the US market has yet to fully understand nor tap into what makes the band so good.
In Flames set was short & to the point, they took the stage in a simple manner & the band played the smaller of the 2 side stages & they did a good job of closing out the 2nd stage area although I think Machine Head should have closed out the 2nd stage area because they had a bigger crowd & much better crowd response....In Flames set fell victim to closing band syndrome & what I mean by that is, alot o' the crowd started to filter into the main stage area so they could get a good spot to catch all the "Big" bands & the band to kick off the main stage area was Trivium.
Trivium had a large stage to run about on & it felt like all the bands on the main stage did the same thing....every band on the main stage had numerous mic stands set up all across the stage & each member would swap up spots & it was an interesting way to mix up things a bit so the entire crowd got a chance to see all the musicians in the front performing in different spots throughout the show.
Trivium's set was short & to the point, they came out, rocked hard & before you knew it they were off the stage!
The first thing I noticed immediately when the guys took the stage was that Matt cut all his hair off & he looked like a kid onstage! The last time I'd seen Trivium he had really long hair & now Corey is the only guy in the band with long hair. To his credit Matt smiles so much onstage and that's rare in the metal world...with short hair Matt reminds me a tad bit of Danko Jones & Mike from Linkin Park & Trivium were a great opener for the mainstage.
Seeing Megadeth open for Godsmack was interesting because Megadeth have been around alot longer than all the bands on the mainstage, yet they are not as big as Godsmack & Disturbed & there's no denying that fact either!
Megadeth's stage set was simple, they had a HUGE "Megadeth" banner that covered the back of the stage & infront of the banner were walls o' Marshall Amps...that was the stage set up & during "Wake Up Dead" they used the lights placed high in the ceiling that read "DIE"...these were lights Disturbed would later use during their set which leads me to believe the "DIE" lights were Disturbed's & they allowed Megadeth to use them for that song.
"Sweating Bullets" was probably the song I enjoyed the most in the set & between every song the band walked offstage for a minute pause...giving Megadeth one hour to pack in all their music limited the set to just "popular" material & the only non-single track was the new song, "Public Enemy No. 1" which I'd describe as a typical Megadeth track, no major surprises with the song, it's a Mustaine metal song.
Between sets the entire behind the scenes crew for Mayhem Fest took the stage & they made a special announcement that this particular concert was show #100 for the Mayhem Fest tour & they wanted to thank this crowd for making the tour a solid 4 year run...then they brought out a HUGE birthday cake & you might think they would smash the cake into the tour creators face, right? WRONG! What happened next was a little surprising....the guy holding the cake threw the entire large sheet cake into the crowd & he nailed the fans in the center of the pit with cake & icing!
I've seen alot o' things at a show, but I've never see a large sheet cake tossed into a metal crowd & naturally this created an instant cake tossing fight which lasted for a minute!
Godsmack were co-headliners of the night & by the time Godsmack took the stage the venue was PACKED!
Say what you'd like about Godsmack but they have a huge fanbase, their fans are rabid & they deliver a kick-ass show!
Sully is clearly the shortest man on the tour yet his onstage rage is just as big as the largest dudes on the tour!
When you see Godsmack in concert you realize just how many "Radio hits" the band has under their belt & each member of Godsmack brings something to the table. It's NOT just all about Sully on the Godsmack stage because Tony anchors the riffs, Shannon is a f**king monster on drums & their bass player makes it a point to interact with every single person he can in the front.
At one point in the set Sully brought out Dimebag's Rita & the girls of Mayhem to do a celebratory "100th show" shot.
During the Godsmack "drum break" they did a flurry o' covers that included "Back in Black", "War Pigs", "Moby Dick", a Metallica cover, a RUSH cover & more that I can't recall.
Godsmack deliver a high energy metal show & I'll admit that I'm one of those people who gets annoyed with the over saturation of Godsmack, BUT, you can't deny they bring a big rock show to the stage & from start to finish they killed!
I found it interesting that they opened with "Crying Like A Bitch" which is a song about Nikki Sixx & Nikki was actually in town for The Outlaw Jam & onstage at the same time Godsmack was just a few miles away!
Headliners for the evening always have the best sound, the best lights & the best onstage crap....Disturbed were no exception with a huge backdrop that was a large video screen and part of the stage & the band utilized a large amount o' pyro as well.
Disturbed played hit after hit, they did a set that was pretty standard, nothing unusual other than a break in the set where Dave saw a little girl wearing a pink cowboy hat & he commented that was something you rarely see at a Disturbed show!
Dave takes alot o' flack in the metal world but to be blunt with you, he's a damn good frontman, he controls the stage, he's got a good voice & he's grown as a performer. I remember seeing Disturbed on their very first tour & this band has gone from a baby band to a massive arena rock band very successfully & whether you love or hate the band, they deliver a kick ass rock show!
The 2011 Mayhem Fest was a great day for metal music & if you missed this show you missed a really fun celebration of metal!