MAYHEM FEST 2009
Camden, New Jersey
Mayhem Fest started in 2008 & essentially, in most metal fans eyes, the Mayhem Fest replaced The Ozzfest. The sad thing is, Ozzfest started out as a really unique tour package, it broke alot o' bands & made stars out of relatively unknown acts like Slipknot, Godsmack & Disturbed, to name a few, but what happened with Ozzfest over the years was, the ticket prices got out of hand, the bands that really needed the exposure from that tour were subject to paying a large fee just to play the 2nd stage on Ozzfest, & the billings for the Ozzfests started to become stale & weak. The last Ozzfest was billed as a free concert, & in essence, it was, BUT, the overall bill was just plain weak! Mayhem Fest took over as the reigning king of rock festival tours in the USA for several reasons, the most important one though is that it's a fan friendly tour... the ticket prices are decent, the patrons are treated good & the bands on the tour are consistent & it's an all around good metal bill.
The tour for 2009 featured Marilyn Manson & Slayer as the tours headliners & a slew of established & up & coming acts as the openers throughout the day. I decided that the 2009 tour was such a unique billing that I wanted to cover 2 shows, so this review is part one of my 2 days w/ Mayhem 2009 feature. Camden, New Jersey is an interesting town...it's really more of a rock n roll town than Baltimore, Maryland is...don't get me wrong, I am a Maryland boy, born & raised, BUT, I'll be the first to admit to you, go to another state to see a show & you'll see what I mean...the New Jersey area is just plain different than the Maryland area...they are a little rougher, a little more rabid & I think it's partially due to how close they are to New York...the New York rock crowd are like rabid pit bulls, but that's a totally different topic!
On August 7, 2009, the Mayhem Fest hit Camden, New Jersey, & I was kinda bummed to see the initial crowd was just around mid sized...the venue opened at 1:30 PM & White Chapel started @ 1:55 PM on the Hot Topic Stage. I was a little late getting to the venue due to some serious road work they were doing in that area, so I got there in the middle of White Chapel's set...their triple guitar attack is impressive, they had a good overall audio mix & even though the crowd wasn't huge, the audience that were there definitely dug the bands set!
I have to note that there's 3 stages running on this tour, BUT, each stage runs on it's own, it's not like the Warped Tour where you have multiple stages all at once...with Mayhem Fest it's set up so you actually can see all the bands if you want to. The Jager stage is right next to the Hot Topic stage, so you can walk a few yards & go from stage to stage without missing any of the action! Beyond The Scar, a Maryland based act, opened the Jager stage & they sounded pretty good, they got the crowd all worked up & as soon as they finished The Black Dahlia Murder were up next. Black Dahlia Murder's set was probably the one I will remember the most from this show & it's got nothing to do with the bands music, it has everything to do with a guy in a gorilla suit who came out & introduced the band, then danced around the stage for the entire first song...honestly, I wish the Monkey-Man had stayed out for the entire set, it actually funny as hell!
Before Black Dahlia Murder's set was over, a little surprise, the first of many, was had on this day...3 of the members of GWAR, in full costume, showed up & did a 2 hour signing at the Jager tent! I saw the guys hanging out, meeting fans, talking to kids & even signing quite a few boobs for the female fans...there were 2 other notable surprises for the day...Bam Margera & Ryan Sheckle showed up to introduce All That Remains & they both hung out, partied, met fans & after Bam's little problem recently where he was in the hospital, Bam was looking very healthy! The last surprise of the day was finding out that Rita Haney, Dimebag's girlfriend, was traveling with the tour & was there at the Dimebag booth to meet fans, take pics, sign autographs & she stated that there would be a new Dimevision dvd out by the end of the year & that she was looking for fans who had Dimebag or Pantera tattoo's or interesting Dime stories, she had her camera's out with her & was filming for the Dimebag dvd!
Job For A Cowboy & God Forbid kicked serious ass, but the last 4 acts on the 2 side stages were intense & it was at this point that I clearly noticed alot more people filing in to see the show! Bam Margera introduced All That Remains & did a flying drop kick to Brandon Novak right before the band took the stage. I have to be honest, All That Remains have really grown, developed, & changed from how they started out...the underground roots are pretty much gone, the band is alot slicker, more polished, & the only thing I can bitch about in their set is that I miss Jason on drums...I know that Jason has an injure that kept him off this leg of the tour, but without him, a small piece of the band is not the same, so I can't wait to see Jason back in the band very soon!
Behemoth took the Hot Topic stage after A.T.R finished their set on the smaller Jager stage, which is essentially a trailer...no lie! Funny pre-show story, I spotted one of the Behemoth guys lifting weights earlier in the day & I saw the entire band backstage before their set, before they had all their make-up & gladiator garb on....seeing them onstage, it's a mix of He-man meets Cradle of Filth, BUT, Behemoth blow Cradle of Filth away as far as I'm concerned! The highlight of their 30 minute set was the closer, "I Got Erection" & the releasing of the fake blood! Behemoth are fun, they don't try to be anything they are not....granted, they wear costumes, lotsa make-up & look a little goofy, BUT, they are giving a show, they are representing themselves as a sorta heavy metal gladiator, they don't do the Dani Filth routine, they all play instruments, there's no ego's or attitudes on that stage, it's just the Behemoth brand of theatrical metal...basically, they are a band that you either love or hate!
Trivium closed out the Jager stage & I have to admit, I've NEVER seen that kinda energy on a small stage...EVER! I've seen Trivium quite a few times & this was definitely the best show I've EVER seen the band give! Matt is looking alot like Kirk Hammett these days & I often forget that Corey does a fair amount of singing as well, but their bass player clearly stole the show...he looks totally different these days with his shaved head, BUT, that guy's a hyper maniac...he was running through out the packed crowd with his bass, playing against the kids in the front on the barricade & he was all over that freakin' stage...Trivium's set was a hard act to follow! I might add too, they sounded AMAZING! Outdoor shows are usually hit or miss, but they sounded superb!
Cannibal Corpse headlined the Hot Topic stage & what's funny about the bands singer Corpsegrinder is, offstage he is such a nice guy, BUT, onstage, he's a monster! The one thing he said onstage that I can't forget was, at one point, someone threw a water bottle & Corpsegrinder goes, "If ANYONE here throws a water bottle on this stage, you won't have to worry about security, you'll have to worry about me, because I will jump off this stage & beat the shit out of you...does anyone wanna test me, try it mother f**kers!" That was definitely the most violent words uttered all day & luckily, NO ONE threw anything at the band, although it would have been interesting to see if Corpsegrinder pulled a Sebastian Bach & jumped into the crowd & started beating someone up because they threw something at the band.
Now we moved into the main part of the venue for the mainstage acts...first up was Welsh act Bullet For My Valentine. I've seen the band quite a few times over the years & what always makes me laugh is how short they are...seriously, if you ever see the band live, look at their mic stands before they take the stage...the dudes are tiny! The only guys that tiny in metal besides the BFMV guys are Alexi from Children of Bodom & Ronnie James Dio! In my opinion, B.F.M.V. sounded great, BUT, they seemed a bit lost on that huge stage. I missed a portion of the bands set because I had an in-person interview with Dave Lombardo from Slayer...you can read the highlights of that interview at the bottom of this review. Up next on the bill was Killswitch Engage!
Howard & the boys took the stage decked in matching tuxedo styled t-shirts...infact, ALL of the bands roadies wore the same shirts too...Adam was decked out in his usual cape & a black doo rag...the thing to note about the Mayhem Fest shows for Killswitch Engage is that, for the most part, the band uses pyro as their backdrop for almost every song...they literally have balls of fire popping up every so often & the closer for this night was the Dio classic "Holy Diver". Ok, so there it was, the show was winding down, the nights 2 headliners were up next....I had seen both bands do a co-headlining tour back in 2007 & I'll be honest with you, hands down, Slayer killed Manson back in 2007, so I was curious if the same would ring true for this tour...place your bets kiddies, I'm about to tell you!
There's a reason why a picture of Kerry King is the first pic you see when you read this review....the reason is, Slayer OWNED Mayhem Fest 2009! Hands down, Slayer came out, owned the stage, played a tight set that included a new track or 2 & all the old standards as well. The band is looking a little older these days & Tom Araya has some new tattoo's on his arms, but sound wise & show wise, Slayer are as brutal now as they were back when they started! "War Ensemble" reminded me of the first time I saw the band in concert...I was still in school, my Dad has taken me & we had crappy seats...I saw the heavy red lights, the smoke, the overall tone was "hell on earth" as far as I was concerned & the same still rings true when you see a Slayer show! I'll spoil it for you & say that, the metal Slayer logo with the eagle/pentagram...it lights on fire a few times during the bands set & Slayer's pyro was cooler than Killswitch's, because it created the illusion that the top of their amps were on fire...again, the "hell on earth" theme rang true! In my mind, I thought to myself, no way in hell would ANYONE top that set....it was literally like the way Ozzy used to close Ozzfest....the kings had just played & it wasn't possible to top that performance!
Marilyn Manson was the last act on the bill & they opened with "We're From America" off the new "High End of Low" record by the band. I actually liked it live & thought it was a great opener, BUT, Manson did something weird for the first song...he purposely sang with his back to the camera's for the most part....press was allowed to shoot the first song ONLY by Manson & as soon as the song ended, Manson snickered, "See that, I pissed the press off again!" & I'm assuming he meant that he showed his back to the camera's alot...I was directly infront of Twiggy & for all the negative things I've read about Twiggy's guitar playing in reviews & online, Twiggy did a decent job as guitarist for the band!
Here's another spoiler to the bands set though...they are listed as playing an hour long set, BUT, the bands set is more like 45 minutes & that's partially due to the breaks in between each song! The band played a set that was based on their previous work with only 3 new songs played...the opener, "We're From America", a slightly heavier rendition of "Four Rusted Horses" & the lead single, "Armageddon"...the rest of the bands set was culled from the A.C.S.S., Mechanical Animals & Holywood era with their cover of "Sweet Dreams" tossed in & I might add that the band cuts it short right after the guitar solo on this tour!
Manson closed with "The Beautiful People" & there was NO real theatrics during this performance from the band, there was a few hat changes, but for the most part, the band played a stripped down, straight ahead set & there's no denying it, Slayer was the clear champion of this show...hands down, no band can follow a Slayer set!