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Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, July 7th, 2015

Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival
July 7th, 2015
Stir Concert Cove
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Slayer, King Diamond, Hellyeah, The Devil Wears Prada, Whitechapel

What began in 2008 as a celebration of metal music, the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival has continued to grow each year and introduce fans to the best that the genre has to offer.
The last time I’d gotten the chance to attend the Mayhem Festival was in 2012. The festival introduced me to bands like White Chapel, Asking Alexandria, and Betraying the Martyrs. It also gave me to opportunity to see Slayer and Slipknot on a massive scale. Even though the 2015 stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa wasn’t the size of venue that many of us associate with Mayhem, it did give us all a more intimate concert experience.
Harrah’s Stir Concert Cove is an amazing venue. There are no bad spots in the natural amphitheater to see the stage. Sadly though, there also isn’t room to house Mayhem’s second stage, meaning today’s festival wouldn’t have the usual amount of bands. On the bright side, that meant that today’s bands would be given the opportunity to play longer sets.
Whitechapel, touring in support of their latest release Our Endless War, hammered through a blistering 9 song set. It was amazing to see how much this band has evolved since I’d first seen them in 2012. The crowd’s response to Whitechapel was nothing less than brutal. Today was the first time I’d be seeing circle pits opening in the crowd at a Stir concert.
Setlist:
Rise
The Saw Is the Law
Let Me Burn
Our Endless War
Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation
This Is Exile
Possibilities of an Impossible Existence
Faces
Section 8
I, Dementia
The Devil Wears Prada wasted no time continuing to assault the crowd with the same level of intensity that Whitechapel had. Being that so many of today’s concert goers watch the show through their phones, it was great to look behind me and see that the vast majority of fans were actually paying attention to the band, and not worried about taking an obscene amount of photos and videos of the show.
This being my first time seeing The Devil Wears Prada, I was nothing short of impressed. The band hadn’t played Omaha since 2009, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell by the sheer numbers of people screaming along with every word of each song.
As an added bonus, the band threw in a new track, Supernova, off of their upcoming Space release.
Setlist:
Escape
First Sight
Sailor’s Prayer
Outnumbered
Assistant to the Regional Manager
Reptar, King of the Ozone
Danger: Wildman
Supernova
Mammoth
Hellyeah have been touring in support of Blood For Blood, the band’s 4th release, for almost a year. It was no surprise they were chosen for this year’s Mayhem Festival. While we’ve not heard anything from Mudvayne for a few years now, vocalist and founder Chad Gray has been keeping himself busy. Hellyeah’s current release, Blood for Blood, is full of high energy, brutal metal tracks and mixed perfectly with the band’s older tracks during their live set.
Guitarist Tom Maxwell sat on stage right, a walking cast on his leg left. Not sure what happened, but even sitting during their set, Maxwell thrashed just as hard as bassist Kyle Sanders and guitarist Christian Brady. Brady and Sanders are both recent additions to Hellyeah’s live touring members.
The band smashed through a blistering 8 song set. Building on the aggressive, high energy level that Whitechapel and The Devil Wears Prada had incited, Hellyeah pushed the crowd past their physical and mental limits. Two giant circle pits opened in the crowd the moment the band played the first few chords of Soul Killer.
Known for their theatrics, Brady stepped up to Gray during the first verse of Sangre por Sangre, spit a mouthful of stage blood into Gray’s face, and grinned like a maniac as the blood dripped down his chip.
But Hellyeah’s set wasn’t all about the brutality. One of the band’s fan favorite live song’s, Moth, allowed the fans a moment to collect themselves before shredding into the new track Cross to Bier. As founder and drummer Vinny Paul thrashed around behind his kit, Gray jumped off the stage, climbed up onto the barricade, leaned into the crowd, screaming the lyrics along with the fans.
Closing with You Wouldn’t Know gave the fans one last chance to sing along with Gray before the band finished their set.
Setlist:
Soul killer
Sangre por Sangre (Blood for Blood)
Demons in the Dirt
War in Me
Moth
Cross to Bier (Cradle of Bones)
Say When
You Wouldn’t Know
Soon it was time for the evening to turn a bit more… “Satanic”.
To give you a little background; After reforming King Diamond in 1994, Diamond would balance recording and touring with both Mercyful Fate and his eponymous band throughout the 90’s. Since the early 2000s, King Diamond have kept recording and touring and, since 2014, the band has been composed of vocalist King Diamond, guitarist Andy LaRocque, guitarist Mike Wead, drummer Matt Thompson, and bassist Pontus Egberg. King’s wife, Livia Zita, sung back up during the band’s 10 song set.
Having King Diamond on the Mayhem Festival opened up a whole new genre of metal to the typically younger crowd that the festival generally draws. While I’ve never seen King Diamond live before, or really even heard any of his music, seeing the classic death metal band live was one of the reasons I wanted to see this year’s festival.
Even after seeing King Diamond live, it’s difficult to describe what I saw. After close to three decades as a performer, King has mastered the theatrics of a live show. The band’s stage dressing was massive. Gargoyle’s guarded the staircases that lined each side of the stage that lead up to a full stage platform with the Satanic pentagram backdrop. King himself painted his face with black crosses and inverted crosses going up and down his face. King Diamond used a microphone handle consisting of a femur bone and a tibia bone in the shape of a cross. When he wasn’t singing, King would play air guitar on the twisted mic.
The band’s 10 song set was a mixture of tracks from their extensive catalogue, as well as two tracks from Merciful Fate. The crowd responded accordingly to the blistering set. To prove their allegiance, circle pits opened for almost every song, and the crowd surfers picked up their pace for King Diamond’s set.
Setlist:
The Candle
Sleepless Nights
Eye of the Witch
Welcome Home
Tea / Digging Graves / A Visit from the Dead
Evil (Mercyful Fate cover)
Come to the Sabbath (Mercyful Fate cover)
The Family Ghost
The 7th Day of July 1777
Black Horsemen
As dusk fell, and the final backdrop of the evening was raised, the crowd began to chant Slayer’s name. Tonight would mark my 3rd time seeing Slayer, but my first time seeing the band since the death of founding member and guitarist Jeff Hanneman in 2013. Since the 2012 Mayhem Festival, Slayer have continued to tour, and work on their upcoming release Repentless.  The album will be the band’s first release to feature Gary Holt of Exodus on guitar and the first to feature Paul Bostaph on drums since 2001’s God Hates Us All. Repentless is also Slayer’s first album following Hanneman’s death. Repentless will be released on September 11, 2015.  For the Mayhem Festival, Slayer gave their fans a glimpse of new material. The band performed 3 tracks off of their upcoming release; Implode, Repentless, and When the Stillness comes.
The crowd’s reaction to Slayer was nothing short of religious. The fans embraced Slayer with open arms and pumping fists. To see Kerry King in action, thrashing through over an hour of heavy metal, is a spectacular sight to see. Vocalist Tom Araya conducted the crowd through the band’s 16 song set list. The band’s stage lights highlighted the visceral emotions that each track drew upon, and enhanced the over all experience of the music as only Slayer could.
The coolest part of Slayer’s set though was their use of pyrotechnics. while their 2012 Mayhem Festival set used monitors in the shape of an inverted cross, flames erupted from both sides of the stage and formed the anti-religious symbol.
While it’s unusual for a metal concert to take place at Stir Concert Cove, it was the perfect venue for such a brutal show.
Setlist:
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Hate Worldwide
Jihad
Disciple
God Send Death
War Ensemble
When the Stillness Comes
Implode
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
Ghosts of War
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Angel of Death

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