The annual touring metal festival known as the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest returned to the Southern California area and once again gave metal and hard rock fans their fill of 19 bands to rock out to.
This year’s edition featured main stage acts Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria and Trivium and each giving the reported attendance of 26,000 people a rock show filled with props, fire and a whole lot of loud music.
Headliners Avenged Sevenfold brought out a bigger live experience with a full on set with Greco-Roman-esque demons and warrior themed backdrops, often reminding of a cross between Iron Maiden and the 300 movie series, with a slight Metallica-ish metallic feel mixed in.
Their set list featured favorites from their current Hail To the King (Warner Bros) release, as well as songs from prior releases, and having the backdrops adjust to each song. Front-man M Shadows, along with the guitar team of Synyster Gates and Zack Vengeance both worked the crowd and entertained them with a classic hard rock show filled with solos and other guitar chops that got the crowd singing along to each tune.
Co-headliners Korn returned to the tour with their returning guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, and got the crowd on its feet from the start. The band sounded strong and on fire, nailing every note and giving fans a classic show reminiscent of the older days. Their set list featured older favorites like ‘Got The Life’ and ‘Shoots and Ladders’, as well as current numbers from recent records, and the fans were jumping along like any other Korn show.
Considering both headliners being relatively from the area (Avenged Sevenfold from Orange County and Korn from Bakersfield via Orange County/Long Beach), both bands’ sets felt like a hometown show with fans representing their hometown heroes. They both waved the flag for rock and metal at one point in time, and showed why their popularity helped keep heavy rock and metal’s exposure public.
Asking Alexandria and Trivium both held their own with their respective brands of melodic hard rock and metal. Asking Alexandria has slowly crept into the mainstream with their metalcore turned modern hard rock sound, and continues to attract new fans. Trivium with their modern hard rock meets thrash sound got them in front of a larger audience and representing the metallic sounds on the main stage.
The two label sponsored stages were Headbang For The Highway/Sumerian Records’ stage featured deathcore heroes Veil of Maya and Upon A Burning Body, metalcore stalwarts Darkest Hour and Body Count. Victory Records’ stage featured Ill Niño, Wretched, Islander, and Erimha.
Amongst the label sponsored stages, much of the attention went to Body Count’s anticipated return, Darkest Hour and Ill Niño. Body Count’s abbrrievated set featured older favorites, but the fact that Ice T’s animated manner got the crowd into it. While it has been a while since they last performed, it didn’t seem to phase the fans.
Darkest Hour’s neo-thrash meets metalcore sound stood out amongst the sea of deathcore and neo nu-metal sounds found amongst the stages. Their veteran status shined through and they easily won over the crowd.
Ill Niño’s set consisted of largely older tunes from their first two records, but that didn’t seem to bother the crowd. Putting on their heavy groove-tinged Latin metal sound, the younger crowd were jumping along and enjoyed every second of their brief set.
Coldcock American Herbal Whiskey Stage featured Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Mushroomhead, Texas Hippie Coalition, and King 810. This stage easily attracted many of the acts the crowds were eager to see, despite the vast range of bands playing on it.
The two brutal acts – Cannibal Corpse and Suicide Silence – both slayed the crowd with their sheer angst driven assault and did what they do best. The pits opened up and the crowds responded. Miss May I was easily the most melodic band but that didn’t phase the crowd from singing along with them, as well as getting the pits going at the same time. Mushroomhead brought out their animated stage show with their Faith No More meets industrial-esque sound, with updated masks and the crowd jumping along with them. While at times the public believed they fell out of favor with the music scene, apparently today proved that myth wrong.
WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO