Mayhem Festival REVIEW

Yesterday the fourth annual Mayhem Festival hit the shores of Camden for a day of non-stop hard partying and even harder music. This was my second Mayhem Fest and even though I was slightly skeptical about this years billing (read my preview of the fest if you are confused), Mayhem really did a good job picking out a smart. strong, and fucking awesome lineup.

Before I delve into my day, first let me share with you some important news in case for whatever reason, you spend more time reading my posts then looking the official website for your news concerning the festival. Due to a very serious illness to one of the band members family members, In Flames have canceled every remaining date scheduled on the tour. Terrible shame for the band. i was quite looking forward to maybe seeing them play “Take this Life” live and it sucks for some people who really wanted to see In Flames. This band is just stricken with bad luck and it’s an awful shame.

Anyway, onto the day itself. After immediately purchasing my desired merch upon arrival, I beelined with a few friends over to the Revolver stage to get a good spot for Straight Line Stitch, All Shall Perish, Suicide Silence, and Machine Head. Out of all twelve of us in our group, only one of us (Gary) was really familiar with some of Straight Line Stitch‘s material. I never really got into them, but they played a surprisingly VERY good show and a great way to start off the day. Their bassist was sick!!! He played a six string bass and was easily the best bassist on the whole tour. He was so good that he should be in a Veil of Maya, After the Burial type band and at the end i caught his pick!! After Straight Line Stitch, I stopped by the Rockstar tent and grabbed some free drinks because it was hot that day, but not nearly as hot as it was at Warped Tour, which was ten days earlier. While getting a drink I noticed that Machine Head were doing a free signing so I immediately got in line with my buddy Shawn and met all of them, which was amazing. Such nice dudes, but more on the band later.

So because of my Machine head signing i heard a little bit of Red Fang…if you read my preview then you know that i don’t care about them. i missed the first half of All Shall Perish‘s set, which wasn’t soul destroying for me because i’m not a huge fan of them either. they’ve always just been ok or pretty good for me, never amazing. When the crowd dissipated after All Shall Perish’s set, i made my way up front for Suicide Silence. Me and my friend Steve are huge fans of the band and have similar views on the band in that we prefer “The Cleansing” to all their other albums and wish that Tanner was singing for them still. Even still, they put on a fantastic and highly enjoyable show, despite the massive amounts of crowd surfers hitting me in the head. Playing a bunch of songs from the new album and not enough fro the first album (only two songs), Mitch had a camera attached to his mic so that he could video tape the entire show and film the crowd going crazy in the process, especially for songs like Wake Up, Unanswered, You Only Live Once, and No Pity for a Coward.  Truly a great show and I even caught  pick from their guitar player, bringing my pick count to 5 total.

While most of the people in our group moved over towards the lawn to reserve good seats for the main stage festivities, i stayed at the Revolver stage to see Machine Head. Easily, the best show of the entire day, Machine Head owned the day in my opinion. They’ve never been really acknowledged in America like they have been in the UK for being as brilliant as they are, but judging from the MASSIVE sea of people surrounding the sound booth and further back, the majority of people at the festival were watching Machine Head and helping to chant the famous “Machine-Fucking-Head” in between ever single song. The band debuted their new single “Locust” on this tour and the song is amazing. If the rest of the new album is anything like this new song, then i think the band have released another Blackening-sized album. The crowd was just sooo loud and sooo supportive from the first second to the last, I think even the band themselves were surprised about just how into the show the crowd was. It was truly a special moment and not a bad second on the entire set. There really is no other way to put  it. You had to have been there.

Moving on to the lawn for the Main stage, Trivium was the first band up. Not much to say other then they were great. I mean, after just seeing Machine Head, I was still just in awe from them so it was hard to really get into Trivium because it was so hard to follow up their show.  They sounded good and they played great songs from Shogun and Ascendancy, including their new song, In waves. I’m quite looking forward to their new album. Megadeth came on after Trivium and played a great show featuring hit after hit after hit. I’m a big fan of Megadeth, but MY GOD, their songs sound so good live, but i still can’t help feel like it’s just Dave and friends when you see them. After a while, his relentless soloing because starts to blend together and i feel like I started to loose interest a little. I know that those solos are built into the songs, but it still wasn’t as gravitating as some of the other bands that performed. It wasn’t labored, but they were just the odd band out on this whole bill.

As the rain started to trickle down, the heavy introduction chords to Crying Like a Bitch cut through everything and Godsmack were on for a full hour. No pyro, no videos, just them and they’re music. For a full hour it was just hit after hit after hit. Songs like “The Enemy”, “Speak”, and “Whatever” reignited my love for this band. Voodoo was amazing with the rain coming down at a pace as calm and cool as the song itself, it was quite magical, but not as magical as the battle of the drums. For those of you who don’t know, singer Sulley Erna has been drumming for over 20 years and at every show, brings out an alternate drum set and performs with actual drummer Shannon Larkin for a synchronized drum battle duet. being a drummer myself, i was just blown away by their performance. At one point they started playing segments of songs like War Pigs, Back in Black, and Aqualung and hearing the audience sing the words was massive and incredible. That whole performance, to me, just proves why drums are the best and I would not be surprised at all if people were turned on to playing drums because of a performance like that.

The rain had cleared up and stopped by the end of Godsmack, but everything was still cool when Disturbed took the stage. A bit of a rough start for the vocals, all at the fault of the Susquehanna Bank Center’s not so professional sound system and even less than professional crew running the boards. But once they were on, the were fucking on for the entire night playing nothing but great tune after great tune after great tune. the thing about Disturbed is that you can’t get every single hit song in one set. They have soooo many great songs that there’s no way you can get every single hit song in one set. The band played almost every song from “The sickness”, with a bunch of songs from “Asylum” and the big singles from the other albums. i was happy with every second of their show, but I  was kind of bummed that they didn’t play songs like, “Stricken”, “Intoxication”, “The Night”, or “Overburdened”, but it still wan’t nearly enough to ruin the night for me because they are just such a good and band and with this indefinite extended hiatus on the horizon, I’m glads i could see the band and get down to all of their tunes (my highlight through was getting my friend Kathy to windmill for “Down with the Sickness” hahaha).

All in all, great night with fun had by all. No major disappointments aside from the In Flames news. Can’t wait for next years festival. I want bands like Devildriver, Skindred, System of a Down, Fear Factory, Volbeat, and/or Arch Enemy on next years bill.

Stay tuned for my preview of next weeks’ All Stars Tour.

Luke Helker

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