The fists were flying and the adrenaline was pumping last night in Camden, NJ as the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival steamrolled into the Susquehanna Bank Center to celebrate it’s 5th Anniversary. Despite the brutal heat, Whitechapel kicked things off on the Jagermeister Stage and showed no mercy. After that, the crowd was treated to an onslaught of heavy hitters. The Devil Wears Prada took the stage after Whitechapel, followed by metalcore titans As I Lay Dying.
The almighty Anthrax brought the Jager Stage down with a fast-paced, hard-hitting set that left every fan caught in a mosh. I interviewed Anthrax axe-man Rob Caggiano back in May at Rock On The Range and he said “Our slot is really cool. That stage is really cool. It’s gonna get rowdy…and the lineup is killer.”
As always, the festival circuit is a great chance to catch some killer up-and-coming bands. On this year’s Mayhem Tour, amazing support is being offered by Upon A Burning Body, I, the Breather, Betraying The Martyrs, and Dirtfedd (who are produced by Slipknot’s M. Shawn Crahan). I got a chance to sit down with singer Shawn Spann and guitarist Chase Kozlowski of I, the Breather and Chase stated, “I never thought we’d be touring with Slipknot and Slayer…and here we are.”
After a near-apocalyptic performance from Anthrax, Asking Alexandria set things in motion on the main stage. These British bros unleashed a performance worthy of Main Stage Mayhem, and set the tone for the rest of the evening. In the last year, AA have gone from up-and-comers on Warped Tour to rotating main stage openers on Mayhem Fest, and they proved that they belong there with a great stage set-up, and a hardcore performance to accompany it.
Following was the legendary Motörhead. Guitarist Phil Campbell, drummer Mikkey Dee, and frontman Lemmy Kilmister played a blistering set of hard rock, and proved once again why Motörhead is louder than everyone else. The barrage continued as darkness fell, and rightfully so; Slayer took to the stage. Godfathers of thrash, Slayer reinvented the “Marshall Stack” on this tour, with Marshall amps stacked to the rafters (literally), forming inverted crosses in classic Slayer style. The pit became an “abyss”, and proved to be no place for the weak as Slayer created pure moshing mayhem.
And finally, the crowd witnessed historic hell on stage; the return of Slipknot. Since the tragic death of bassist Paul Gray (#2) in 2010, the band has been on hiatus, with the exception of a short but epic European festival run that included headlining performances at Sonisphere, Rock in Rio, and Graspop Metal Meeting. 2012 marks the return of Slipknot to U.S. stages in nostalgic fashion. The band headlined the first Mayhem Festival in 2008, and have come full-circle to headline the 5th Anniversary installment. In particular, last night’s Susquehanna Bank Center performance was a special one, since Slipknot performed there as a supporting act on Ozzfest ’99.
The masked-men had clearly returned to form, and cranked out hits like “Spit It Out”, “Wait and Bleed”, “Psychosocial”, and the Grammy Award-winning “Before I Forget”. They left no stone unturned, playing songs from all four albums. Frontman Corey Taylor (#8) sounded as good as ever; performing with passion, engaging the crowd, and sending them into one relentless frenzy after another. M. Shawn “Clown” Crahan (#6), Sid Wilson (#0), Chris Fehn (#3), and Craig “133” Jones (#5) were raging on-stage, going up and down on moving custom drum kits, and jumping off them. Towards the end of the show, traditional drummer Joey Jordison (#1) strapped into a cockpit-like seat and he and his entire drum kit were elevated, rotated, and flipped upside-down. Jordison was in good company, as a special surprise guest – legendary metal drummer Mike Portnoy – watched from the side of the stage and nodded his head in approval. Mayhem Festival proved to be worth it’s weight in metal again this year. Epic ear-splitting performances by all the bands this year. Another thing is for certain – Slipknot are back, and as Corey Taylor stated, “This is only the beginning.” – by Matt Bishop (Photo Courtesy of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival)
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