The 7th annual Rockstar Mayhem Festival kicked off in San Bernardino, California at the San Manuel Amphitheater on July 5th, 2014. The lineup for this year was somewhat different than the previous years with more of the metalcore bands making an appearance instead of the bigger and well-known bands. Some of the bands that were on the bill included: Miss May I, Mushroomhead, Suicide Silence, Body Count feat. legendary rapper Ice-T, Cannibal Corpse, Trivium, Asking Alexandria, and headliners KoRn and Avenged Sevenfold.
By the time I made my way into the area where the side-stage bands were performing, Suicide Silence was performing. I’m not familiar with their music so all I did was look on with their performance. The crowd seemed into them as they moshed away and headbanged. Suicide Silence seems to be doing well with their new singer, Eddie Hermida formerly of All Shall Perish whom replaced the late Mitch Lucker.
After them, Body Count featuring Ice-T took the stage and legendary rapper Ice-T put on a show to prove that he can also rock out. The crowd reacted well as there were mosh pits the whole time and crowd surfers started to appear once Body Count started to play their hit, Cop Killer. I’d never heard of Body Count until they were announced to be at this year’s Mayhem Fest and they were definitely and interesting addition.
Once Body Count finished, the first band I was looking forward to came on. The biggest-selling death metal band, Cannibal Corpse! They played a blistering set that kept the crowd going to where at one point I was being thrown around by two different mosh pits going on around me. They started their set with my favorite track from their newest Torture album, Scourge of Iron. The rest of their set included hits such as: Make Them Suffer, I Cum Blood, Stripped, Raped, and Strangled, and their most famous song, Hammer Smashed Face. As always, frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher made us laugh by cursing at us, the people standing around, the crowd that was watching from up the hill instead of being in the front with us, and by telling jokes. They are definitely a fun and brutal band to see live and I’m looking forward to their new album in September!
Video recorded by my friend/concert partner, Kanon Madness:
After all the main stage bands were finished, I made my way to the main stage where Trivium had started to perform. I’ve heard of Trivium for a long time now but I’ve never listened to them so this gave me chance to check them out and see what they’re all about. I could tell there were fans of their within the crowd from either singing along or they were wearing their Trivium shirts. As for the music itself, I wasn’t really impressed. It’s either because I just didn’t know their music or because there’s nothing that really stood out that made me want to check out their music and become a full on fan. Oh well, I tried.
Asking Alexandria was next and I’ve heard plenty about this band. They were the band that I asked myself, why are they on the main stage instead of Cannibal Corpse? I’m sure the majority of people there were wondering the same thing. During their performance, I looked around and saw little to no reaction from the crowd. I saw the occasional person going wild, but it could’ve been just random people going crazy for no reason, or an actual fan of theirs.
KoRn was the first of the headlining bands. Clearly there were a ton of KoRn fans since once the lights went out signaling their arrival, the crowd erupted in a huge roar louder than anything I had heard all day from being there. They wasted no time in pumping up the crowd as they opened with the crowd favorite, Falling Away From Me. Being the first night of the tour, I could tell they were freshly energized compared to the 2 previous times I’ve seen them since they were way more active and frontman Jonathan Davis brought his A-game and sounded the best out of the 3 times I’ve seen them. They played mainly hits during the night which included: Never, Never, Shoots and Ladders, Twist, Love & Meth, Here to Stay, and they premiered the song Hater live for the first time which will be released as a bonus track for the upcoming re-release of their album, The Paradigm Shift. They also played their most famous song, Freak on a Leash. Both Jonathan Davis’ and bassist Fieldy’s sons came out to rock out with their dads and it was fun seeing them have father and son moments right on stage. Seeing guitarist Brian “Head” Welch back in the band after being gone since 2005 made the band feel complete. KoRn finished their set with Jonathan Davis saying it’s been 20 years since the release of their self-titled debut album and proceeded to end the night by playing Blind, the first track off of that album. I always enjoy seeing KoRn live and will continue to do so.
The final act of the night was Avenged Sevenfold. Some people were all for them and couldn’t wait to see them, others wanted nothing to do with them and stated to leave after KoRn’s set. I’m a fan of theirs so I stayed. Once again, the lights went out and the crowd got on their feet and yelled and screamed as Avenged Sevenfold made their way to the stage. They started off with the first track off of their newest Hail to the King album, Shepherd of Fire. A7X had the best and biggest stage set-up. They had steps on the sides so they could go up and down as they please, a church-like backdrop with 3 screens showing the band perform from different angles as well as cartoons/music videos, pyros and fireballs that shot out matching the guitar solos, and of course the giant skeleton king statue. A7X had an impressive setlist dishing out the usual songs they play live as well as new ones I didn’t expect them to play. Their songs included: Nightmare, Bat Country, Seize the Day (tribute to their late drummer, Jimmy “the Rev” Sullivan), Burn It Down (rarely played), Afterlife, and of course, Unholy Confessions. I love how they use their pyros on stage, whenever certain guitar parts/solos would come on, pyros would shoot out from the back of the stage and go from left to right or just randomly shoot out from everywhere depending on what was being played but it was a beautiful sight. Guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance are amazing guitar players with their dual guitar playing and sounded spot on from the albums. Singer M. Shadows sounded awesome and had no trouble singing live with his wide range of vocals. Arin Ilejay served as the band’s new drummer following the death of original drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan and he did an amazing job on the drums.
Seeing the type of music I mainly listen to, it’s a bit out of the ordinary for me to say I love bands like KoRn and Avenged Sevenfold, but they were some of the first bands I listened to so they’ll always have meaning to me.