From late June to early August every year, one word is on the Jager-stained lips of every metal head across the US: “Mayhem.” And every year, when The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tramples over weaker festivals and descends upon the East coast, you can be sure of two things:
- There will be an endless procession of dashboard thermometer pix on your Facebook news feed
- The Festival will invariably be held on the hottest, muggiest day of the summer.
This year, those two traditions continued as the REDMF rolled into the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA on July 16. The sun was shining (how appropriate for the day of face-melting music ahead), the horns were up, and you guessed it, my Facebook news feed was making me angrier than a metal head trapped at a Blink-182 concert.
The REDMF is one of the most anticipated festivals of its kind and to the creators’ and sponsors’ credit, it brings the brutal entertainment year after year, albeit some years more so than others. This year was one of the “others,” but that said, it still was one hell of a time.
The music was spread out over four stages this year ~ the Main Stage and the always present (and very much appreciated) Jagermeister Stage were joined by the Musicians Institute Stage as well as the Sumerian Record Stage. The show ran seamlessly between the Jagermeister and Musicians Institute stages, each stage undergoing preparation for the next act as a performance was taking place on the adjacent stage. The Sumerian Records stage was located deep in the woods on the Comcast grounds to provide a bit of shading for those looking to get out of the heat for a set or two.
The Jagermeister stage was headlined by REDMF staples and metal gods Machine Head and offered inspired performances by Job for a Cowboy and my happy surprise of the festival, the fierce and photogenic Butcher Babies. The line-up was rounded out with opening performances by Battlecross and Huntress.
“This is the first time we’ve gotten to play in front of a real metal crowd,” explained Carla Harvey, one half of the dual female fronted Butcher Babies. “We’ve been on some cool tours and had some great crowds, but this is a real metal crowd, they come to get sweaty and crazy with us in the pit.”
The MI stage featured headliners Children of Bodom and deathcore’s Emmure, as well as newcomers Born of Osiris along with Attika 7 ~ which featured the return of hardcore legend Evan Seinfeld of Biohazard. The MI stage opened with performances by Motionless in White and Thrown into Exile.
The Sumerian Stage featured Scorpion Child and City in the Sea ~ both Sumerian Recording artists…go figure ~ plus Boston’s Leaving Eden, one of the winners of the local “Headbang for the Highway” battle of the bands contests.
The shelter of the main stage provided some much needed reprieve from the glare of the day and featured Scandinavian thrashers Amon Amarth, who put on one hell of a show featuring an elaborate stage set up centered around a Viking warship complete with smoke-spewing dragon head. The band was promoting its new release, Deceiver of the Gods. The Norsemen were followed by Mastodon who, well…I’m not really sure why they were there. The band hasn’t released a new album in some time and didn’t even allude to one being in the works. A solid, established, some might even say iconic band, they just seemed out of place in the context of Mayhem.
Five Finger Death Punch took the stage and delivered a great set, albeit a bit watered, presumably for the eclectic mix of the festival crowd. Playing more of their “radio friendly” like “I Remember Everything,” “Bad Company,” and “The Bleeding” as well as debuting “Lift Me Up,” their first single off the soon-to-be-released double album The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell.
The larger-than-life Mr. Rob Zombie headlined the sweltering day of metal. He and his band ~ John 5(guitar), Piggy D (bass) and Ginger Fish (drums) ~ took the stage seemingly impervious to the heat, regaled in elaborate monster garb with Zombie himself perched high above the stage on an immense skull carved with, of course, just a single word: “Zombie.”
The veteran rocker ~ melding horror and theatrics and music as only he can ~ played a number of songs off his new album Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor and also gave the crowd their older favorites including “Superbeast,” “Living Dead Girl,” and White Zombie hits “More Human Than Human” and “Thunderkiss 65.”
Always the showman, Zombie makes sure his stage is a sight to behold ~ LED curtains playing movie clips, more pyro than probably legally allowed, and oversized characters roaming the stage. Zombie made great use of the space onstage, but also found his way out into the Mansfield crowd for some fan interaction (a Massachusetts native, he’s got a special connection to his home state fans, many of whom ~ myself included ~ remember seeing/hanging with him in local rock clubs when he was just starting out). Although Zombie’s shows are always elaborate ~ we’d expect no less ~ this show, compared to many of his other concerts I’ve attended, felt more like a Broadway production, with too many props and set changes and not enough music. While extremely entertaining, the set felt rushed.
The REDMF has had its up and down years and this year’s incarnation fell somewhere in the middle. While there were some truly great bands and performances, and any full day metal festival co-sponsored by Jagermeister is a great time, the line-up of bands came off a bit too chaotic, feeling a bit more like it had been thrown together rather than planned and put together.
I’m already looking forward to next year, as I always do, to see…well, what mayhem Mayhem will bring.
For a list of remaining dates for Mayhem 2013, go here.
Special thanks to the lovely ladies of Adrenaline PR for ~ once again ~ taking such good care of us!