July 17th, 2012
Bonner Springs, Kansas
Slipknot, Slayer, Motorhead, As I Lay Dying, Anthrax, The Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria, Whitechapel, Dirtfedd, Betraying the Martyrs, Upon a Burning Body, I the Breather
Anyone attending the 2012 Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Festival was expecting a brutal show but with the temperatures reaching well over 90 degrees before the gates even opened, the fans’ limits would be put to the test. Come 1:00 in the afternoon, the line stretched probably a quarter-mile from the entrance, and the mercury began to touch the triple digits.
You could tell just by looking at the security guards that they weren’t too happy with the scorching midday sun as they quickly ushered fans in after a brief pat down and security search. The sweating masses made their way through the main amphitheatre, most of them briefly stopping in the vendors’area or to refill their water bottles which had been long since emptied.
The fans casually made their way to the back parking lot where the day’s events would begin with Frances’s
Betraying the Martyrs opening the festival’s Jagermeister stage. A relatively unknown band in the US, Betraying the Martyrs did a great job setting the tone for the rest of the day, even though the power went out during the band’s second song. The crowd’s reaction was immediate, but the band took this in stride, assuring the crowd that the power outage wasn’t their fault. “I guess we just played too heavy,” lead vocalist Aaron Matts admitted.
Liberate Me Ex Inferis
Life Is Precious
Because of You
Sid Wilson, Slipknot’s #0, AKA DJ Starscream, spun his own unique blend of house, jungle and rock during the show’s intermission. Fans also took the breaks between sets to hit the Rockstar tent for free cans of Rockstar Energy Drink, Rockstar Lemonade, and Rockstar Juice. Even though security tried to stop the thirsty masses from taking the cans out of the tent, more than a few found their way to the moshpit and not a single can was thrown onto the stages.
The band that I had heard the most about that day, from various members of the crowd, was Whitechapel, a band who took their name from the section of London that Jack the Ripper used to stalk his victims in. From the moment these guys took the stage, it was apparent that this band knew the meaning of the word “metal.” The crowd started moshing the instant the first chord was struck; I would swear that they were moshing when the drummer took his seat behind the kit. The fans were so into Whitechapel’s music that, when the power died during their second song, it took the fans a few seconds to realize that they were thrashing to their own screams. All lead singer Phil Bozeman could do was look out over a crowd of 1500 people, tap his mike with his hand, and shrug his shoulders. A few tricksters in the crowd starting chanting “Acoustic!” which got a chuckle out of the band. Sadly, though, festivals like Mayhem run on strict on-stage/off-stage time slots, and the band lost a good six minutes, equating to two songs from their set.
The Darkest Day of Man
Possibilities of an Impossible Existence
One of the things that a lot of the fans appreciated from the Mayhem festival was the chance to meet some of the bands who were playing. Bands like Dirtfedd, who played the Sumerian stage, went back to their tent after their set to meet their fans and sell merch. Other bands, like Anthrax and The Devil Wears Prada, greeted their fans in the Rock Star Energy Drink tent, signing for free and not leaving until everyone in line got an autograph, a handshake, or a fist bump. I, myself was thrilled that if you didn’t bring anything of your own to get signed, every band had posters available.
Not one fan that I spoke with had a bad interaction with any of the band members that they met. While the Mayhem Festival is all about metal music in its most true form, the camaraderie and sense of family between the fans and the bands was ever present.
Asking Alexandria, another up-and-coming band, thankfully played an entire set without losing power to their stage. Lead singer Danny Worsnop stepped on stage wearing a long, wavy blonde wig and, after throwing the devil horns at the crowd, pulled the wig off and threw it into one of the circle pits that had formed. Hours later, after the crowd had cleared, I could still find clumps of long curly blonde hair littering the pavement.
A Lesson Never Learned
To the Stage
Morte et Dabo
The Devil Wears Prada took the stage next, enticing the crowd into a near riot with their own unique blend of apocalyptic zombie love songs. Vocalist Mike Hranica was unaffected by the blistering heat, whirling around the stage and thrashing just as much as the crowd was. Choosing the heaviest tracks from their catalogue, The Devil Wears Prada hammered through their set and let the crowd wanting more.
Born To Lose
Assistant to the Regional Manager
Fans of Slipknot who purchased the band’s latest hit album at the show were given the chance to meet members of the band. Even though the album is not set to release until next week, fans that purchased it at the show were in for a treat as they got the actual album itself, not just a coupon for the album in stores on its actual release date. From my guess, there were probably close to 350 people in line to meet Shawn Crahan, Chris Fehn, and Corey Taylor, who greeted the fans wearing their death masks and signed the poster version of the new album’s cover. The best part about meeting those three members was seeing them wearing masks that they rarely wear on stage.
During Slipknot’s signing, a few keen fans were lucky enough to see a live rap performance from Sid Wilson, who also signed after his live set.
By the time Anthrax took the stage, you could tell that the heat and dehydration was starting to take its toll on the crowd, but no one was willing to miss out on seeing one of the bands who helped pioneer the music that made this festival possible. Even after thirty-plus years as a band, these five guys still know how to put on an amazing show. Lead singer Joey Belladonna even commented on noticing that the crowd seemed a little tired, but asked that they hold out a little longer and thanked them for all the years of support. As a group, Anthrax decided to pattern their Mayhem Festival setlist after the kinds of shows The Ramones would play. “High energy, non-stop barrage of hit, hit, hit, hit, hit,” drummer Charlie Benante commented.
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time
Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t
I Am the Law
The only glitch in the Mayhem Festival’s lineup was that Kerry King of Slayer’s autograph session took place during the tail-end of Anthrax’s performance, but King did stay on well after Anthrax left the stage to make sure that he met all the fans that were waiting for him.
The short break in-between the second stage set and the main stage set gave the fans enough time to refill their water bottles, use the bathroom, check out the bands’ merch, and find their seats. I even saw a few people sitting in the shade and taking naps. Thankfully though, even with the scorching temperatures, I didn’t see a single person pass out or have to be carried away by paramedics.
As I Lay Dying opened the main stage late that afternoon, so the little break after Anthrax’s set was well deserved. This was my second time seeing As I Lay Dying and its great to see how much these five men have evolved as a band. A circle pit formed on the blistering concrete as soon as the guys took the stage. Lead singer Tim Lambesis stomped around the stage like he was summoning the Norse God of thunder and built the seething crowd into a frenzy. The Mayhem Festival crowd’s were excited to hear that songs from the band’s forthcoming album were added to their setlist.
The Sound of Truth
The Mayhem Festival is not all about introducing new bands to fans of the already established metal scene; it’s also about reintroducing the forefathers of the genre to the younger generation. While Anthrax merged thrash metal with hardcore punk, bands like Motorhead continued to deliver metal music in its most pure form. Lemmy, lead singer and founder of Motorhead, entered the stage to thunderous roars of approval, even though most of today’s crowd was relatively unfamiliar with their music. Lead singer Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee hammered through a blistering 45-minute set, thrilling their current fans while also gaining a new fan base with the younger generation that had taken over the festival. “These days, everyone takes everything so seriously,” Kilmister has said of touring. “It’s only rock and roll, you know, it’s OK.”
I Know How to Die
Over the Top
The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
The One to Sing the Blues, With Drum Solo
Going to Brazil
Killed by Death
Ace of Spades
Just as the sun was beginning to set and the temperature began to recede, a white curtain was draped in front of the stage, pentagrams began whirling across the sheet and Darkness of Christ heralded the return of Slayer to Kansas City. I wouldn’t call myself a hard-core fan of Slayer; I don’t have any MP3s, I don’t own any CDs. Today was the first time that I saw the band perform live but I have the utmost respect for Slayer, though, knowing full well that, if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, or even Nine Inch Nails. Earlier that day, I was fortunate enough to meet lead guitarist Kerry King and having such an amazing experience meeting him helped pump me up for seeing the band live for the first time. The respect that I had for these dark lords of metal soon morphed into complete admiration, though, after the opening chords of Disciple. As Tom Araya screamed “God hates us all,”I found myself thinking, “Oh my God, I’m standing in front of Slayer.” Throughout the course of their set, pyrotechnics burst across the band’s backdrop of speakers displayed as inverted crosses. As the band roared through a flawless set, comprising of (insert songs), the stage continued to erupt in flames. Slayer was literally giving the crowd one of the best performances of the day. The heat of the amphitheatre, combined with the pyrotechnics, gave off the feeling that we were in Hell. Even standing on the lawn after we photographers had been evacuated from the pit area, I could still feel the heat from the pyrotechnics.
Darkness of Christ
Die by the Sword
Alter of Sacrifice
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
Angel of Death
South of Heaven
Now came the time for the moment thousands of screaming fans had waited all day for. Shorlty after Slayed left the stage, a red curtain was lowered in fron of the stage, hiding the hard work that was going on behind the scenes to make sure Slipknot’s set was perfect. The 8 masked men from Des Moines took the stage early, soon after the sun had dipped below the horizon and the day’s extreme heat had passed.
Strobe lights burst from behind the curtain. Shadows of the Iowan Lords of Metal danced and played across the red velvet. 742617000027, the intro for the band’s iconic self-titled debut release blasted into the screaming crowd. As the curtain was slowly raised, Slipknot’s elaborate set was brought into full view. The final circle-pits of the evening began to open only moments after the curtains raised. The fans’ screams of approval and excitement nearly drown out Taylor’s own voice during (sic).
The band’s energy was mirrored by the fans enthusiasm and continued to rise during Eyeless. Flames erupted from the stage as the band shredded through Sulfer. Shawn’s drum kit began to rise a good twenty feet above the stage. I can only imagine how the seething masses looked at his birds-eye view.
There was soo much pyro during Before I Forget, I could see a few fans near the front averting their gaze. During Disaterpieces, Shawn and Chris dismounted their drumkits, grabbed mics and stood on either side of Corey, screaming the chorus with him. Shawn leaned on Corey who then pushed him away, knocking Crahan off Taylor’s perch. Accidental? Who knows. Probably. I don’t think their masks give them much view. Shawn stumbled and threw his mic across the stage.
The lights then dimmed and Slipknot took it down a notch. Jordison struck the opening beats of Gently and a light snow began to fall onto the stage. Taylor took his place center stage, standing motionless during the song’s intro. His head tilted down, giving sense that he was mourning for a lost love. The band may have taken it down a notch, but Gently is still a brutal track and pumped the crowd further. Sid Wilson even took the opportunity to stage dive during end of song. Corey took several hydration breaks during the set. I can only assume to avoid another incident like in Houston a few days earlier.
More pyrotechnics flashed during Vermillion. Halfway through the track, Sid was still no where to be seen. Did he hurt himself stage diving? Jordison is like a caged beast in his kit tonight. Wilson eventually made his way back to the stage, lightly limping back to his DJ booth. During Root and Thompson’s solo, Taylor took a break and grabbed a bottle of water. After taking a few deep gulps, he spit a mouthful into the screaming crowd. Taylor ended the song on his hands and knees, screaming “SHE ISN’T REAL.”
The band exited stage while the crowd continued their cheers of approval. Shawn returned shorlty carrying a bunch of balloons. Wilson began the countdown for the band’s next aural assault and two words were yelled from Taylor and the fans; “Heretic Anthem.”
Taylor paced back and forth across the stage as another volley of flames erupted during the song’s chorus. Crahan hopped off stage, balloons in hand and marched his way through the crowd. After the band’s blistering set, I noticed a small girl walking out of the amphitheater, still carrying the balloons Crahan had given her.
The nine men from Iowa were a well oiled machine. I say nine because, off stage, Slipknot founding guitarist, Donnie Steele, was obscured from the audience’s view.
The audience was instructed that they’d help out with the next song. Clapping with a 1-2 beat, Taylor and the boys ripped through Psychsocial. Fehn strolled across the stage and began beating a keg on Shawn’s kit as Craig Jones silently headbanged in his spot behind Fehn’s drumkit. Crahan and Fehn donned their marching band drums to finish out the song.
The lights were again shut off and the band exited the stage. One of the tribal logos placed in the back of the stage burst into flames just before the stage lights turned back on. Paul’s #2 logo replaced the initial stage backdrop. Taylor took this moment to address the crowd, “The main reason we are here tonight is to celebrate the music of Paul Gray.” The real message behinds today’s music was that we’re all family. We’re all in this world together. Duality was dedicated to the memory of Paul Gray. The crowd, every single voice, sang and screamed every word. A burst of flame shot forth everytime Crahan hit his kit with the baseball bat.
Of the 9 tribal Slipknot logos on stag, the middle was lit aflame for the entire rest of the set.
Spit It Out followed with even more pyro shooting from the stage during the song’s chorus. Taylor asked the crowd to once again lend their voices but the crowd is tone deaf and sings “Fuck me, I’m all out of enemies” in “3 different parts,” making Taylor giggle. Now it was time for the crowd “to make history.” Those of us who’ve seen the band before knew what Taylor meant before he said a word. We were asked to get down on the ground. “This is going to be epic if you all do this,” Taylor urged us on. A semi-reluctant crowd got down on the ground but then most get back up before the big moment. Taylor could only laugh. “Do I have to start this song over again?” Eventually the pit all ended up on the ground and it was pretty epic to see a thousand people jump in unison as Taylor screamed “JUMP THE FUCK UP!”
After a short pause for the crowd to catch their breath, the band returned to pummel us with People = Shit, one of my personal favorites. Crahan switched back to one of his original masks to end their set. Pyro again spit forth during chorus as the crowd began chanting with Taylor. If you’ve never heard a five thousand people scream “People Equal Shit,” it’s amazing and I suggest attending a Slipknot concert.
The night wasn’t over just yet though. Taylor addressed the crowd for a final time. “We make you this promise. This is only the beginning.”
The band ended the evening with a track that was always meant to be our “New national fucking anthem,” Spit It Out. It was poetic to end the evening with the track that introduced the world to Slipknot nearly 15 years ago. As an added bonus to the intensity of the evening, Jordison’s kit raised from the stage, then flipping forward and began spinning, something that hasn’t been done on stage in year.
The stage lights dimmed for a final time this evening and Til We Die played the band off the stage. Wilson began throwing drum head skins into the crowd as Jordison threw his drum sticks to a few lucky fans. Crahan brought two girls on stage and let’s them throw his sticks into the exhausted masses.
The curtain lowers and the tired and weary made their way back to their cars, satisfied with their sunburns, autographed posters and the memories of another Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.
Wait and Bleed
Before I Forget
The Heretic Anthem
Spit It Out
People = Shit
‘Til We Die