On July 5th Rockstar Energy Drink hosted roughly 27,000 concert attendees, nineteen of the heaviest bands in the game, and of course The Circle Pit at the one and only Mayhem Festival. This monumental event took place at the massive San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, California.
Doors opened at noon and I arrived just before one stoked to find that I did not miss any acts that I wanted to see. My day started with exploring the festival grounds scoping out everything that was there. I came across three side stages (Coldcock Whisky Stage, Sumerian Records Stage, and Victory Records Stage), a few food trucks (including the Tornado Potato), about twenty or so merch tents, Misfit Industries (showcasing some of the best custom Harley baggers I’ve ever seen), Unknown Industries (doing epic motorcycle stunts on custom Harleys) and of course the Rockstar Energy Drink Main Stage \m/
After scoping out the spot I then got my hands on a set schedule to figure out who was playing when and where… This is what I got:
Rockstar Energy Drink Main Stage:
Avenged Sevenfold (9:45-11:00pm)
Asking Alexandria (7:15-7:50pm)
Coldcock Whiskey Stage:
Cannibal Corpse (5:45-6:20pm)
Suicide Silence (4:50-5:20pm)
Miss May I (3:55-4:25pm)
Mushroom Head (3:05-3:30pm)
Texas Hippie Coalition (2:15-2:40pm)
King 810 (1:25-1:50pm)
Sumerian Records Stage:
Body Count (5:20-5:45pm)
Darkest Hour (3:30-3:55pm)
Upon A Burning Body (2:40-3:05pm)
Veil Of Maya (1:50-2:15pm)
Victory Records Stage:
Ill Nino (4:25-4:50pm)
While I began heading towards the area with the side stages, King 810 was near the end of their set and I prepared myself to start off my Mayhem concert experience with a little bit of Veil Of Maya. I only caught their first three songs, but they were decent (I must be honest in saying that I have never really been into them). According to Setlist.fm, VOM opened with “Subject Zero”, then “Punisher”, and the last song I heard was “Unbreakable”. Overall their sound was on point, but their stage performance left me wanting more action. Perhaps I was expecting too much, but I felt that they could have brought it a lot harder.
Up next was Texas Hippie Coalition and although their crowd was respectively large, I only stayed for their opening song because I wasn’t into it. Maybe it was because of how distracted I was by their morbidly obese front man who was rocking a leather vest which proudly showed his hairy underbelly. Nastyyyy! Any of my comments towards them as a band just wouldn’t be fair because I have never heard of them before and I was really not into their style this day.
Upon A Burning Body hit the stage next (finally a band that I like) and I was surprised to see that there was no crowd heckling due to the publicity stunt pulled by the band just days prior. Instead, the crowd roared with excitement as Danny Leal (Lead Vocals) stormed the stage with no shirt and his wrists bound rope exactly like it appears on their soon to be released album “The World Is My Enemy Now.” UABB opened their performance with their new song “Red Razor Wrists”, then played “Intermission”, “Texas Blood Money”, “Scars”, and closed off their set with fan favorite “Sin City.” UABB is one of those bands that always puts on a solid performance. I’ve seen them over five times and each time they bring the house down.
After UABB, Mushroomhead played and although they had the biggest crowd of the day by this point, I just don’t dig their style. At times the music sounded too chaotic and unpleasant to my ear. At points it sounded like the singer wasn’t on beat, but hey maybe that’s who they are and part of the reason why people enjoy them… I just don’t know. Visually they put on a great performance. Their masks looked creepy as hell and to the left and right of center stage were two floor toms topped with water which gave a awesome splashing effect every time they were struck.
Next, I caught a couple songs from Darkest Hour, but I quickly left and cruised the merch area because their stage presence was too boring. Obviously most of the festival agreed with me because they had the smallest amount of viewers than any other band that played the Sumerian Stage. Long drawn out sections of band members just standing their coupled with a front man who seemed disinterested led to an extremely boring set.
Following Darkest Hour, Miss May I rocked the Coldcock Whiskey stage and they kicked ass. Levi (lead vocals) was born to be a front man. His energy and passion to be a crowd pleaser really magnifies the impact of their show. MMI was the only band to get the crowd to establish a Marathon Pit (basically a circle pit on steroids) that started a few feet back from the front of the crowd and wrapped around the sound tent that was 20+ yards back. I was so captivated by their show, that I forgot to pay attention to the set list and only wrote down that they closed with “Hey Mister”.
After MMI, I was beyond pumped to check out Suicide Silence and get a feel for their new front man Eddie Hermida (Former All Shall Perish vocalist). Musically, SS was perfect! Guitars, drums, vocals, everything was on point, but I have to admit that the stage presence was lacking. I didn’t even see any of the notorious synchronized long term head banging that the guitarist are known for. Granted that I have seen SS when Mitch Lucker (RIP) was the vocalist and he is one of the best complete package vocalists death metal has ever seen… So perhaps my expectations were a little too high. SS set included, “Unanswered”, “No Pity For A Coward”, “Cease To Exist”, “Fuck Everything”, “Wake Up”, “You Can’t Stop Me”, and concluded the set with “You Only Live Once”.
Body Count featuring Ice-T played next and I found their set funny as hell. Like, are these guys serious or are they just hardcore satire? Regardless they played well and the crowd went nuts for them, especially when they played their track “Talk Shit Get Shot”. Even Ice-T’s beautiful with Coco was there and mannn was she smoking hot!
After Body Count’s set, I was pretty worn out from the heat and I went and chilled in the press area until the main stage action kicked off in the amphitheater. At this point, the show could have ended for me and I would have been completely cool with that. Trivium, Asking Alexandria, Korn and Avenged Sevenfold just aren’t really my thing and that is why I’m not going to bore you guys with my explanation of their sets. I will say that out of the four main stage bands, Korn stole the show. I had no idea that they sounded that good live. At points you could literally close your eyes and imagine that you were listening to their CD it was that good. Jonathan Davis (Vocalist) was amazing and there is no question in my mind as to why Korn achieved the popularity that they have. Davis even had “The Bitch” (his famous H.R. Giger mic stand that is in the shape of a naked woman) with him and that brought back pleasant memories of high school days watching music videos on MTV. They played for an hour and their set consisted of all their greatest hits and more.
Mayhem was epic and I plan to definitely recommend that you attend when it comes to a city near you!