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JUNKMAN'S Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival Recap - Day 1

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Monday, July 8, 2013 @ 4:57 PM


Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2013-Opening Day a Scorcher

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Summer Festival season 2013 has arrived. I recently attended opening day for the 2013 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival in San Bernardino, California. To say it was a hot time in Southern California would be a severe understatement. Temperatures neared 115 degrees, in the area the housed the festival, the San Manuel Ampitheater. Besides the heat, there was plenty of energy, as well, and not just the canned kind offered by the sponsor.

Seventeen energetic bands, as well as 3 winning bands from the "Headbang For The Highway" contest, played on 4 stages throughout the day. Each band had their own merchandise booth, and many of them braved the heat to get close with their fans. Looked to me like each one was doing well, with tour sponsored merchandise, and drink booths (naturally) seeming to be the busiest.

Lots of highlights, for me and many others, especially on the 3 "Side Stages". Saw a great set, early in the afternoon, on the Musicians Institute Stage, from ATTIKA 7, the new "biker rock", band fronted by former BIOHAZARD singer Evan Seinfeld, who, true to the image of the band, rode onstage on a custom motorcycle. Also, going with the theme, guitarist and custom bike builder Rusty Coones, who has, amongst other things, built bikes for the popular TV show "Sons Of Anarchy" is a member of the band. The band has also added my friend Ira Black, (formerly of HEATHEN, VICIOUS RUMOURS, METAL CHURCH, etc) as a second shredding guitarist, and they gave the crowd a total sonic wakeup call. If you are planning on attend a Mayhem date this summer, make sure you get there early enough to see this band. A great set indeed.

Set up side-by-side and alternating bands, early in the afternoon, the Musicans Institute Stage and the Jagermeister Stage were non stop rocking. Outstanding sets from JOB FOR A COWBOY and MACHINE HEAD, who RULED the Jagermeister stage, were highlights. I loved BORN OF OSIRIS, MOTIONLESS IN WHITE ( who I always had seemed to keep missing whenever they played near me, for some reason, until today...) and especially CHILDREN OF BODOM, delivered the goods to the rabid fans. COB got the crowd so stirred up, that security threw all the photographers out of the photo pit after one song, as a "precautionary measure". Between me and you though, lets just say that the crowd surfers were storming the beach! I did get off a few shots that I will post with this review.

Sumerian Records sponsored the "Headbang For the Highway" contest ( www.headbangforthe highway.com) that gave 3 unsigned bands a chance to play on the centrally located Sumerian Records Stage. They also hosted one of my favorite sets of the day, SCORPION CHILD. This quintet, from Austin Texas, blew my mind. Not only were they different in appearance and style from all the other "thrash style" bands that were appearing at the Festival, but their performance was off the hook. Bluesy, gritty, old school rock n roll, just what I love to rock out to. Great songs, musicianship and style, make this band one of my faves so far this year. Kudos to whoever decided to add them to this years lineup. Check out their website www.scorpionchild.com, and their new CD on Nuclear Blast Records.

To the main stage, I, and the rest of the crowd trudged, and were treated to one of my favorite sets of the day from Swedish "Viking Rockers", AMON AMARTH. Speaking of sets, their stage set was a huge Viking ship, with a dragon as the masthead. Perched up in the back was the bands drummer, Fredrik Andersson, who, no doubt, had the coolest spot in the place. AMON AMARTH proceeded to give the crowd a half hour set of driving Scandinavian Metal, led by the huge warrior-like presence of singer Johan Hegg. Hegg even toasted the crowd mid set by drinking out of a goats horn. Yes, I was ready to rape, pillage, and sack the city after the Nordsmen had finished. All I needed was a helmet and a shield. Great time. Go check out AMON AMARTH, they will fire you up!

Following that good time, (and the dismantling of the above mentioned stage set) came the next act on the main stage, MASTODON, who came out and fired up the wilting crowd. This band is built on heavy riffs, and outside of bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders, don't really move around that much. Basically, they let the music do the talking. Opening with "Black Tongue", this quartet from Atlanta, Georgia delivered a loud, precise, 10 song set, to a sweltering crowd that hung on to every moment. By the time MASTODON had finished their set, with the Grammy nominated "Curl of The Burl", and 2004's "Blood And Thunder", even the mosh pit had dwindled to just a few people. But relief from the heat was in site, as the sun was starting to set.

As the evening fell on San Bernadino, so did the front stage curtain, as FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH was next on stage. Featuring a dark, scary new stage set up their own, with chrome Gargoyles lining the front part of it, FFDP did what they do best-put on a killer, uptempo, and crowd pleasing show. Singer Ivan Moody prowls the stage like a bobcat, giving a one-eyed stare, while perched with one foot on the stage monitor every now and then, and pleading with the crowd to get involved. This band gave the crowd what they were looking for in their one hour set, opening with the rocking "Lift Me Up" and only slowing down half way through the show, with their cover of "Bad Company" from the band of the same name. Guitarist Jason Hook has been a fine addition to this band since joining them a few years ago. His guitar solo's are a great compliment to the sonic thud of songs like "Never Enough".

Earlier in the day, I had a chance to sit down backstage with Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 and talk a little about their upcoming summer plans, which of course, is touring on the Mayhem Fest. He told me that the band has some new stage gear, and that Rob has a bunch of new toys to mess around with onstage. Was THAT ever an understatement! Straddling atop a huge platform adorned with ZOMBIE in huge letters, Rob Zombie and his band (John 5 guitar, Piggy D on bass, and Ginger Fish on Drums) brought out all the stops during their show stopping and show closing set.

Starting out with the opening song "Teenage Nosferatu Pussy" from their latest release Venemous Rat Regeneration Vendor ( I asked John 5 WTF that means, and he didn't know either....) the band was joined onstage throughout the set by 15 foot dancing robot with a huge head, a giant devil, and at one time rode some sort of revolving tank like vehicle, as well as lots of flames, scary video's and sinister lighting. Quite the visual as you can imagine.

Zombie is ever in motion, and his band kicks ass. John 5 is a monster ( how fitting...) on guitar. And it was great to hear some WHITE ZOMBIE favorites like "More Human Than Human" and "Thunder Kiss '65" revved up with John 5's shredding axe licks. I loved hearing the new songs as well. A great "follow the bouncing ball" style video accompanied "Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga", (lets all sing along together, shall we?...) and the crowd, by now, near exhaustion, and dehydrated, screamed their lungs out in unison. An encore of "Dragula" closed the set. A great finale to a great, but long and hot day.

I would hope that you attend one or more of the remaining shows on the Mayhem Tour. I had a blast and I know you will too. Dress appropriately, it's gonna be a hot one, bring some cash, as the vendor lines move faster that way, and support the upcoming bands. Buy the merchandise, it's what keeps these guys afloat. Log on to www.rockstarmayhemfest.com, for lots more info. There is even a Mayhem phone app that will keep you up to date. My thanks to Live Nation, Adrenaline PR, and Musicians Institute for making it happen for me. See you in the pit!

All Photos By Junkman

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