Show Review: Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival at Shoreline Amphitheater, 7/1/12

by Dakin Hardwick on July 3, 2012

I think these guys may have been part of the Christian organization protesting the show from the parking lot. (All Photos by Alan Ralph)

 

I don’t listen to heavy metal music very often. There are two or three records that I pull out on rare occasion to fill a certain void, but at no time would I consider myself part of the movement. So, when the opportunity fell in my lap to cover Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was the right man for the job. But, I do really like Motörhead, and life isn’t about doing the safe thing. So, I decided to throw caution to the wind and see what happens when I spend an entire day absorbed in the metallic crunch of a heavy metal show. I put on my most “metal” of t-shirts, which was, most ironically, a Yelle T-shirt that was all black and had “Dance Or Die” written in bold red.

I walked around the premises to take in the sights before enjoying any music. There were a lot of t-shirt shops. Tons. Nearly every booth was devoted to selling shirts featuring various different slogans. There was a group called “Metal Mullisha” that did some mighty impressive feats of motorcycle driving. And, of course, there was the Rockstar Energy Drink. Which was perfectly present. There were no scantily clad women wandering around trying to convince men to drink the stuff. It was there, you could try as much as you liked of many different varieties, but it wasn’t “in your face.” Of course, this isn’t about the side shows. You don’t go to a metal show to sample free soda. You go for the music. Thus begins my adventure…

Whitechapel

I began my adventure into the world of metal with Whitechapel. My first impression is good- they are heavy and fast, with a rock solid groove. It was a sigh of relief after the dubstep meets drum n bass that was coming over the speakers in warm up. A huge circle pit broke out as the first note was played. Although 90% of the crowd was clad in all black, they weren’t letting the beating summer sun dampen their energy. (A tent handing out free Rockstar Energy Drink may have helped this process) When vocalist Phil Bozeman, a slender man with very short hair, opened his mouth to start singing, the sound was inhuman. His gutteral growl is deep, rich, and thick. This isn’t your typical cookie monster vocalist. This guy has passion and ferocity. He worked the crowd into a frenzy- knew the right things to say at the right time, and was, all around, an excellent frontman. At this point in time, I’m feeling really good about what we are going to see.

As I Lay Dying

There was an immediate distinct difference between Whitechapel and As I Lay Dying. Where white chapel was basically 40 minutes of pure assaultive adrenalin, As I Lay Dying placed their accent on riffage and melody. In a normal situation, nobody would consider what this band does as “Pop” music, however, up against Whitechapel, AILD were pure pop. The crowd swelled for them, but were oddly less energetic.. The first “mosh” broke out halfway through the set, during a song called “Nothing Left”, where several pits erupted around me for the duration of the song, only for things to return to the headbanging, air guitar playing simplicity. Interesting note: the few people that remained ready to Mosh had the strangest variety of shirts on, including Suicidal Tendencies, Journey, Fear and Jawbreaker. The strongest member of this band is lead guitar player Nick Hipa. His inventive guitar playing and gift for a catchy yet interesting riff is what separates this band from countless other metal bands practicing in garages across the country.

Asking Alexandria

I was uncertain as to what to expect from Asking Alexandra from long before they took the stage. The fans of the band easily stuck out from the rest of the crowd. The dress code of the day was black t shirt, baggy shorts, boots or tennis shoes. Asking Alexandria fans wore fitted jeans, bright colors, and seemed to be the happiest people in the venue. Happily, the band reflected it’s fans. This band only loosely falls under the metal banner; with a breakneck, steady 4/4 beat, they were more like a really heavy punk band than a metal act. Singer Danny Wornsop could pull off the cookie monster growl like no other, but can also let out a bratty snarl or a smooth croon with the same ease, as he continuously bounced between throughout the entirety of the bands set. I admit that the “crabcore” moves that the band kept doing are a little played out, that was only a minor drawback to an otherwise really fun set.

Anthrax

Anthrax are the great unifier. If I wasn’t there to see it, I would not have believed it. Every race, every age, every gender was there to see this band. Women & men, young and old, black, white, latino, middle eastern, asian, everyone. And everyone participated… It was more than a pit, it was full, ecstatic dancing. Everyone as far as the eye could see was in on single, unison movement.

They also put the Mayhem in Mayhem Festival, and managed to leave out the rockstar. Shoes, cans, every type clothing was being tossed in the air. On top of this, the band sounded amazing. Singer Joey Belladonna soulful howl is still pitch perfect. Scott Ian, when not on VH1, is actually a bit menacing. The band played with full throttle energy, hardly stopping to breath between each intense, fast paced song, sounded more like the best hardcore punk band playing in your basement than a bunch of middle aged metal heads.

 

Motörhead

I don’t know if I can say anything about Motörhead that hasn’t been said before. They may be the only constant in the world. They are still the thickest and heaviest power trio alive. Lemmy still sounds like he’s holding on for his life while he rasps through some of the greatest songs in the rock n roll canon. They opened with “Bomber,” which I really think Obama needs to appropriate as a campaign song. Like Anthrax, Motörhead spent very little time talking between songs, and simply ran one straight into the other. Since Lemmy was born looking like he was in his 60’s, now they just look and sound ageless. The energy is rock solid, and it felt like they were just getting warmed up at the end of their 45 minute set.

Bomber
Damage Case
I Know How To Die
Stay Clean
Over The Top
Leaving Here
I Want To Sing The Blues
-Drum Solo-
Going To Brazil
Killed By Death
Ace Of Spades
Overkill

Slayer

Slayer may be the only “hipster approved” heavy metal band. Happily, I was the only hipster at this show. Slayer, of course, brought it intensely. Gary Holt of Bay Area speed metal legends Exodus replaced Jeff Hanneman, who is out coping with flesh eating disease, and did it without skipping a brutal beat. Tom Araya, who has had his fair share of health problems as of late, maybe looking a bit grayer, it hasn’t slowed him down a bit. Kerry King, arguably the best guitarist in speed metal, played especially brutally this evening. Slayer aren’t known for their theatrics, however they pulled out the big guns for this show. And by big guns, I mean copious amounts of fire. They had Marshall stacks shaped like upside down crosses that were set ablaze throughout most of the show, however when they hit the showstoppers “Angel Of Death” and “Reign In Blood,” there was so much fire that one would have thought that the whole band was engulfed in flames. I firmly believe that every human being alive needs to experience a Slayer concert before they die. There is truly nothing like it.

Slipknot

It’s been a number of years since Slipknot have been on the mainstream radar, mainly due to the passing of bassist Paul Gray. Out of respect for Gray, at this performance there was no bassist on stage. Instead, all bass parts were played off stage, reducing the number if stringed instrumentalists on stage to one. Although, yes, Slipknot is not a small band, but on such a large stage, it seemed like there was definitely an important part of the show missing. The good news is that percussionist Shawn Crahan was in amazing form at this show, playing his drums on a hydrolic lift with a baseball bat, and when he wasn’t destroying his drums (one or two ended up needing replacement after each song), he was doing flips and somersaults all over the huge Shoreline stage. The band put on a really fun and furious set… It’s one part carnival freak show, one part metal show, and one part performance art. After a long day of brutal, heavy music, I was definitely feeling the need for sleep. So, after their wonderful set, I enjoyed a can of Rockstar Energy Relax and crawled straight into bed.

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See a full gallery of Slipknot, Slayer, and the rest of the Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2012 photos, among many other bands, at Alan Ralph‘s photo portfolio.

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