Rockstar Mayhem Fest 2014: Live at San Manuel Amphitheatre, Devore CA

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mayhemfest on Facebook

 

WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO

PHOTOS BY KALEY NELSON

Devildriver – Whitechapel – Revocation – Carnifex: Live at the House of Blues W. Hollywood

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Multi-bands extreme metal touring packages have become a common theme in recent years, where fans get multiple bands on one bill for a set ticket price and exposing them to newer bands at the same time.

 

Early door time at 5:30 pm appeared to be a stretch as Fit For An Autopsy and Rivers of Nihil both got early call times and played to early birds who came down to catch their sets. Both put on strong sets of crunching deathcore meets death metal, rarely missing a step and giving the crowd a heedful at the same time. Not letting the light crowd affect them, the crowd got into their respective sets and set the pace for the night.


San Diego’s Carnifex has gotten their name around the metal circuit lately with their powerful blend of metallic hardcore-esque mannerisms with death metal style guitars and breakdowns that got the crowd into their sound. Vocalist Scott Lewis worked the room well and kept the tempo high and the energy even higher. Somehow their diverse sound helped them standout and win over new fans as well as well as people who were already into them.

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Revocation has already built a following with their unique blend of technical thrash with odd riffing styles, and energy that goes for hours. Guitarist/vocalist Dave Davidson doesn’t speak much to the crowd but his music does that talking. While their sound doesn’t fit the current wave of Djent riffing styles that has taken the metal world by storm, they found other ways to attract fans and beat them musically silly. The crowd definitely got into them immediately, and their high tempos got the mosh pits going throughout their set.

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The big return of Whitechapel was highly anticipated and this time as a co-headlining slot and a longer set time. They brought their trademark deathcore sound and gave the crowd the high energy show they are known for. They featured a good portion of songs from their latest record Our Endless War (Metal Blade), as well as spanning songs from their various releases. Frontman Phil Bozeman worked the crowd and got them moving throughout their whole set. While they have put on strong shows over the years, one small flaw that plagued the band tonight was that their sound did somewhat become a big monotonous and a longer set list made this stand out more than usual. Despite this hiccup, Whitechapel did put on a strong set and showed why they have been one of the bigger deathcore bands on the scene today.

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Devildriver came out swinging with their modern thrash metal stylings and took command upon starting. Frontman Dez Fafara came out with his old school mic stand and began barking at the crowd to keep up with the band’s momentum, in which they did. The mosh pits were going and the energy was high. They covered a good cross section of their catalog, including the ‘Sail’ cover which has become a staple part of their set list. They showed why they are still going six albums into their career and no signs of stopping any time soon.

 

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Devildriver Set List:

End of the Line

Head on to Heartache (Let Them Rot)

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Before the Hangman’s Noose

Gutted

I Could Care Less

The Appetite

Sail (Awolnation cover)

Hold Back the Day

Dead to Rights

Clouds Over California

Ruthless

Meet the Wretched

 

Devildriver on Facebook

Whitechapel on Facebook

Revocation on Facebook

Carnifex on Facebook

Rivers of Nihil on Facebook

Fit For An Autopsy on Facebook

 

 

WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO

PHOTOS BY KALEY NELSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Scion AV Rock Fest: Live in Pomona, CA

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Scion AV’s annual free music fest, The Rock Fest returns to Pomona, CA after the last one in 2011, and turning the Glass House and Fox Theater into a mini music mecca for the day. The fest is held in a different city each year and bringing it back to Pomona with another strong lineup gave fans something to be excited about once again.

 

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Four venues within the area (The Glass House, The Fox Theater, Sky Fox Lounge, and Acerogami) housed the bands who performed throughout the day. Wristbands for those who RSVP’d for the event were handed out in advance and arranged much better so attendees did not have to wait in long lines like the last time the event was held there.

 

Sky Fox Lounge and Acerogami were the two smaller venues which held some of the up and comers within the stoner rock, doom and experimental bands on the scene today. Much of the crowd in those venues preferred the intimate atmosphere of those two venues and the more underground vibe of the acts playing within those venues.

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Sky Fox Lounge featured such acts as riff rock acts such as MOAB and Lord Dying, sludge/doom acts such as Black Sheep Wall, experimental acts such as Windhand and Jex Thoth, and extreme acts such as Japan’s Coffins, who made a rare US appearance. Fans who congregated at the venue definitely felt the vibe there, and were there to soak in sounds they would not normally get to see.

 

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Acerogami’s lineup was largely lesser known stoner rock and hard rock acts who were making their first time appearances on the West Coast and gaining more exposure thanks to the help of Scion AV. Much of the bands within this room were coming from the stoner rock and doom realms, where bands like Pittsburgh based Pins of Light and San Francisco based Carousel both set the vibe and got the early comers with lots of cool riff sounds and lots of excitement overall. Another San Francisco based act Hot Lunch have quickly become a rising name within the genre circles and put on another strong performance, as did Nashville psychedelic rock act All Them Witches. of the French psychedelic rockers Aqua Nebula Oscillator drew some much curiosity from the attendees and became one of the much talked about acts of the night.

 

The Glass House held the punk and the experimental acts of the evening. Veteran acts BL’AST featured former Queens of the Stone Age rhythm section Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo alongside frontman Clifford Dinsmore, blazing through their classic tunes with a mini-pit circling alongside the band. Veteran speed metal/punk outfit Midnight kept the momentum going with the same energy despite the crowd coming and going in between venues. Veteran Bay Area death freaks Exhumed made another one of their regular So Cal appearances and once again put on another powerful set. Power Trip and In Cold Blood both represented the classic crossover hardcore/thrash styles that sometimes get overlooked in the So Cal area. They both played strong sets and gave lessons to the crowd in the genre. Speed metallers Speedwolf and Nekrogoblikon rounded out of the day with early set calls and gave the early attendees a taste of metal that flying under the radar.

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The Fox Theatre held the high profile names of the event, with King Buzzo of The Melvins opening with his acoustic set similar to what he previously performed a recent Scion AV event at LA’s Satellite. Big Business followed with a loud and powerful set who are no stranger to the Melvins world. Quite the opposite of King Buzzo’s set, but still made an impact and set the tone for the day.

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Orchid’s classic riff rock stylings became the lead into a much anticipated Crowbar appearance, where they grabbed the attention of the crowd and never let down throughout their set. Red Fang followed with their usual set list of heavy riffing and a set full of energy that kept going from Crowbar. High On Fire put on their usually ear bleeding loud set of riff rock tune and also never let go of the crowd.

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Headliners Machine Head did an unusually longer set list of songs that spanned across their history and more. Their newest song ‘Killers & Kings’ was featured within their set list, as well as a few songs from each of their albums. A good mix of old and new (and yes “Old” was one of them they played), Machine Head does not disappoint and a longer set from these guys is always a treat to witness.

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Overall, Scion AV Rock Fest is a whole lot of music for free during a time when the music world is struggling to attract audiences towards live shows and buying music. Events like these should help attract fans of the genre towards newer bands and getting reacquainted with older bands they may have once enjoyed.

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Scion A/V Metal on Facebook

WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO

PHOTOS BY KALEY NELSON PHOTOGRAPHY