Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mayhem Tour Tears Through Raleigh, NC

They’re several definitions of Mayhem in the dictionary. A state of disorder or riotous confusion, havoc. That may be the best of them to sum up this year’s successful Rockstar Mayhem Tour. It made a stop on August 3 on a blistering Tuesday afternoon. The Raleigh venue was one of, if not the, smallest venues and crowds on the tour which has pulled in some impressive numbers in this summer’s dismal touring season.

The gates officially opened at 2:15 with a steady stream of black t-shirts, piercings and tats roaring through. Ah, the summer outdoor concerts, you have to love them. You see so much that you never expected to see and that usually has nothing to do with the artists performing. The crowd is like the show before the show!

Going to a show like Mayhem requires a few things from those in attendance. Sunblock is important as the temp that day was in the upper nineties with minimal shade to be found. Another is stamina and the consumption of lots of water. Lastly and probably most important is money.....lots of money. Every band was selling merchandise and almost all were doing meet and greets. Most of them required you to buy their CD and you got an autograph and picture with them. This is a great marketing move, especially with the industry being in such a downward spiral because of downloading. The mucho dinero also comes in handy considering beer was $9, Gatorade was $6 and hotdogs were $5 each.

The band’s schedules on the two secondary stages, the Silver Stage and the Jagermeister Stage, were staggered. One band would play their set on one stage and within minutes of finishing, another started playing on the other stage. Get the picture? Each band’s set was roughly thirty minutes in length but an intense thirty-minute set. All killer with no filler!

3 Inches Of Blood kicked off the day with a loud set that got alot of the hungry head bangers going but just wetted their appetites for more. In This Moment’s set saw lead singer Maria Brink go out into the crowd to the soundboard for their final song, “Daddy’s Falling Angel”, to get a circle pit going around the board. The fans were game and started a huge dust storm that looked like cattle being herded to their slaughter as their circled her.

Shadow’s Fall had a great crowd for their set which included a great cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at The Moon” that got the crowd singing along. Lead singer Brian Fair pulled a little guy on stage, maybe 7 or 8, who could barely see over the barricade but had been head banging their entire set. He let this little rocker watch the last song from the side of the stage. Talk about a Mayhem memory!

Norma Jean and Chimaira, who had just played a club date the night before with In This Moment in Charlotte, NC, got some of the best crowd reactions with their ear splitting sets. There was lots of crowd surfing going on. Hatebreed closed out the Jager stage showing that after sixteen years of doing what they love, they still have what it takes to teach some of the younger bands how to rock out properly. These guys are an excellent example of true hardcore and always believing in what they are doing.

The band’s kept a tight schedule and right at 6:30, as shown in the program, Five Finger Death Punch took to the main stage. Vocalist Ivan Moody has assembled a tight unit of guys who, although were not friends to begin with when formed, have grown into a vital band in today’s scene. Ivan is great with the crowd too. At one point asking who in the audience had bought their new CD and then asking who had illegally downloaded it. Well, a question like that made some shy away from answering but there were quite a few who admitted to it. Ivan said that, even though it took fifteen cents out of his pocket for every copy downloaded illegally, the main thing was that it brought them out to the show. Their cover of Bad Company classic song “Bad Company” got a great response from the crowd.

Richmond, Virginia’s Lamb of God took the stage next. They are celebrating their fifteen years of slaying audiences this year. These guys are another example of never straying from your beliefs and compromising. Their aggressive forty minutes set had very little banter with the crowd and they simply gave the audience what they came for, the music. A set of all substance and very little style. Don’t get me wrong, these guys don’t depend on props or a fancy stage to make their point. They have a great light show but no fancy distractions to take away from the fact that they are here to thrash your faces off. These guys weren’t nominated at Revolver’s 2010 Golden Gods awards for Best Live Band because they sit on barstool and sing.

Next up was Rob Zombie, who definitely puts on a show. Almost the complete opposite of Lamb of God, Rob is over the top with his stage show. You know for a fact that two of his influences growing up were KISS and Alice Cooper when you see his show. There were flames and robots and smoke everywhere and that was before Rob even came out on stage! His set mixed in a few White Zombie songs along with his solo material. “Dragula” and “Never Gonna Stop” had the crowd on their feet. He paid tribute to his idol Alice by doing a cover of “School’s Out” which was awesome. His guitarist John 5 has been playing dates on a broken foot and teased him about it. He asked him if he wanted to play something softer that would hurt as much and he went into “Sweet Dreams” which he covered when he played with Marilyn Manson. Rob said that he was going to play a classic to get the older people in the grass seats up and played a hyped up version of his White Zombie classic “Thunderkiss ‘65” that went over great with the crowd.

At most venues on the tour, after Rob leaves so does most of the crowd. It almost seems as if he should have headlined. For those who left early, they missed a great performance by Korn. After some ups and downs the last few years, it seems as if they have returned more to what got them established back in 1994. That heavier, kind of edgy sound that you remember Korn having back then and less electronic. They played a few new songs from their latest CD and went old school with the rest of their set list. Their show was also full of pyro and a great overall stage show. Lead singer Jonathan Davis seems to have the boys back on track and their set at mayhem showed that they haven’t lost a thing.

So, after almost twelve hours of being in the blistering sun, the day had come to an end. Well, except for fighting all the traffic out. This year’s Mayhem Tour has been operating with ticket sales averaging a little over 20% above last year’s tour, which is good news for all of us metal fans. I cannot wait to see what tour producers Kevin Lyman and John Reese will have in store for us next year. I hope the smaller turnout doesn’t discourage them from coming to Raleigh, NC again. For those who were there, it was an awesome day full of rip your face off metal and for those who missed out, maybe next year! Horns high metal heads!

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