Each security team member received a briefing prior to the event, which ended up being completely accurate. It read: People expected: 14,000, mostly male and a very active crowd.
As I approached the Mayhem Metal Festival I immediately began hearing people say, “Fuck yes!” and “Fuck that!” The swearing was an unintelligible indication of what was lying behind the entry gate: Metal fans that will stop at nothing to hear their anthem of thrashing guitars, loud vocal abuse and thundering drums. The second stage presents up-and-coming bands along with old fan favorites. Legends such as The Metal Melitia and Hatebreed brought the crowd to their highest hope and prepared them for the chaos that was scheduled to follow. The main stage headlined such acts as Machine Head, Megadeth, Godsmack, and Disturbed.
The crowd starts cheering, “Machine fucking Head!” and it feels as though the crowd is an army going into battle, with Machine Head giving them the best pre-battle speech they’ve ever heard. The pit starts and the fists start pumping. Machine Head was a perfect band to open the main stage. They prepped the crowd with energy that I didn’t know even existed. Once they finished their set, people were prepared to take on anything and everything.
Megadeth approaches the stage and the older crowd gets excited as the younger crowd tremendously calms down. The crowd had nothing but respect for them, but as a whole, the crowd didn’t have as much energy as they had for Machine Head. Megadeth takes the stage with a veteran’s approach. They’ve been around for years and have continued to wow generations of metal fans. They know their routine and they know how to put a killer show that has gotten them to where they are today.
Megadeth plays a very safe performance. They play older songs like “Rust in Peace” and close it out with “Peace Sells.” They also play newer songs to promote their new album coming out in November. Once Megadeth leaves, Godsmack approaches with a no-holds-barred attitude. Sully Erma is quite possibly one of the best front-man performers I have ever seen. Erma brings an unsettling excitement for his music and enthusiasm. He sounds just like he does on the album and you can tell that he loves his craft. He was one of the only performers who moved around the entire stage and engaged the whole crowd. Godsmack performed songs from their entire collection bring a presence that will satisfy any concertgoer.
The band was a great breath of fresh air that main stage needed. Godsmack revived all fans of metal music, and closed with “I Stand Alone.” The stage was set, the crowd was ready, but no prayers could be spoken for the Atom bomb that exploded when Distubed struck their first chord. I’ve seen many concerts explode in an arena, but none were as insane as Disturbed. They open their show with “Stupified” and I wish I brought a crash helmet. Everyone is glad to see their boys back home and give them the best homecoming a band could ask for. The crowd sings every line to every song as they welcome their hometown boys. This year’s Mayhem Festival delivered a satisfying tour-de-force with crowd-pleasing bands that delivered an outstanding show.
*Photos by Carl Burke