ronnieangel

Mayhem Fest 2014

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    Mayhem Fest 2014

Tues, July 8th at White River Amphitheater in Auburn, WA

I was excited for this, as it would be my first concert in months since my knee surgery. I just had to keep repeating to myself “stay away from the mosh pit, stay away from the mosh pit.” The last thing I need is to do is mess up my knee again. As the doors opened at 1pm, I made sure to wake up early to get ready for the show (10am is early for me). It was going to be a hot one too, so I made sure to slather myself in tons of sunscreen so my pale Irish ass doesn’t spontaneously combust. After stopping at the liquor store for some essentials, we were off to Auburn for the Mayhem!

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Unfortunately, due to Seattle’s infamous phantom traffic jams (look! someone got pulled over… on the other side of the freeway!), we were pretty late getting to the show. We ended up missing several bands including Islander, Texas Hippie Coalition and a few others. All I cared about though, was getting there in time to see Mushroomhead! Luckily, we made it there in enough time to find parking, indulge in some whiskey and catch Mushroomhead’s show.

Mushroomhead opened with their best known song “Sun Doesn’t Rise”. It made a welcome soundtrack as I was dashing (limping?) to the stage. They had new masks on this time around and it seemed they had a new singer as well, bringing it up to three vocalists (!!!!). The turnout was pretty good to see the masked madmen tear up the stage. The two drummers played with some kind of water filled drums, splashing water everywhere. Sadly, it seemed the main singer Jeffrey Nothing took a back seat here, and opted out of many moments, hanging in the background instead. It was still a welcome addition to see them again after 12 years. Damn, I’m old.

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Shuffling between three stages, I would have to move quick from one to the next in order to catch as many bands as I could. Damn you knee, keep up! Next up was Darkest Hour, a band I first saw on Ozzfest in 2004. They were mediocre then and mediocre now. The turnout to see them was rather small and they had a tiny mosh pit. Not to say that they are a bad band…they’re just there.

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We next headed over to the Victory Records stage to catch another band I hadn’t seen in years, Ill Nino. They were amazing and from the reaction of the crowd when asked, seemed to garner a new fanbase who had never heard them before. They were very different from many of the screamy bands of the day, fusing their metal with smooth island rhythms and tribal drumming. The songs were accesible and got the crowd pumped. It was a welcome change of pace, for sure.

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Next up was Miss May I. I wasn’t familiar with them at all, but after a couple of songs I got the impression that they sounded like a thousand other screamo bands out there. I didn’t really notice much that set them apart from the pack, so I took my leave after a few songs. I used the opportunity to run to the car for my knee brace (a saving grace later),  and grab some more whiskey. I’m glad I did too, as when I ventured into the beer garden, I nearly shit my pants and had a heart attack! $11 for a can of PBR? No thanks. As much as I wanted a beer, I couldn’t possibly bring myself to spend that much on one. My conscience simply wouldn’t let me.

We made our way back to the Victory Stage after recovering from the beer garden shock in time to see another band that was new to me, Emmure. I must say, I was blown away by them! They were another band that seemed heavy, yet accessible and managed to stand out as well. They had the whole crowd engaged and jumping from start to finish (myself included). They will definitely be one that I will listen to later and one of the biggest surprises of the day.

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Next up was Suicide Silence. It was interesting to see them still going after the death of their frontman in 2012. They seemed to have a hold over the crowd with their deathcore. They have never really been a favorite band of mine, but I appreciate the fact that they kept going after a tragedy.

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I was able to move to the next stage in order to get a good spot for the next band, while still being able to watch Suicide Silence. The next band had been one of my bucket list bands for years, so I was excited to finally see them live: Body Count! The crowd  was enormous, waiting to see the metal legends. When Ice-T finally hit the stage and launched into “There Goes The Neighborhood”, the crowd went nuts. Ice-T seemed like one intimidating, hardcore dude and all eyes were definitely on him. The band tore through songs like “Talk Shit, Get Shot” and ended the set with the most infamous (one I wasn’t sure if they would play) song, which he dedicated to the controversial Seattle PD, “Cop Killer”. It was amazing finally getting to see Body Count live and they blew all the other bands until that point away.

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The last band on the side stages happened to be another one of legendary status. These were some more of the old timers on the tour: Cannibal Corpse! The innovators of Death Metal had another huge turnout. It seemed more like an observance than anything as the crowd watched in awe at the growlers that have been around for nearly thirty years. Even Ice-T was watching the band from the side of the stage with his son! The stage was full of the bands trademark twirling hair as they ripped through tons of their old classics. I guess you could say that they’ve still got it!

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After Cannibal Corpse shut down the side stages, everyone was shuffled over to the main stage, where four more bands awaited. As floor tickets were insanely expensive (as everything else there was), we opted to get seats instead. They weren’t bad either and had a decent enough view of the stage. Trivium was the first band up, one that I last saw open for Volbeat a few months back in Seattle. They were good then and still rock, bringing their thrash influence to Mayhem and rocking the house.

Next up was the British lads, Asking Alexandria. They were a bit lighter than the other bands on the tour, but still seemed to have a devoted following at Mayhem. The songs seemed accesible and memorable and like something you’d hear on the radio. The singer also reminded me a bit of Russell Brand’s Aldus Snow character, funnily enough.

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After Asking Alexandria left the stage came the band that everyone had been waiting for: Korn! This would only be my second time seeing them, the first being at Mayhem a fews years back. Their stage setup seemed very scaled back and downplayed by comparison to the last time. They just had a bright flashing light stage that I joked seemed like something from Dance Dance Revolution. Even with the scaled back setup, Korn still rocked the place like nobody else could. The guys were as high energy as ever, with singer Jonathan Davis seemingly moving the entire time. They played all of the well known songs such as “Freak on a Leash”, “Got the Life”, “Blind”, “Here To Stay” and more. Surpringly, they left out “Adidas” though. The highlight had to be when Davis brought out the bagpipe for “Shoots and Ladders”. Korn had the biggest crowd response and the most high energy set of the day, unsurprisingly. They were going to be a tough one to top.

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Now, to be honest here, I was a bit confused at first by the placement of the bands on the main stage. I couldn’t understand why Korn was on before Avenged Sevenfold. Korn always seems like a headliner. I hadn’t seen Avenged Sevenfold since 2005 at Warped Tour, but I know that they have gotten much bigger since then and receive constant airplay. Just how big have they gotten, though? I didn’t think that they would be headliner status….that is until they hit the stage.

Avenged Sevenfold. Were they deserving of the top spot at Mayhem? Oh yeah. I must say that I was completely shocked and blown away. The stage setup for these guys is enormous! Right here is a band that gets the show aspect in Rock. When the curtain pulled back, it revealed a massive castle-like structure with giant screens on either side and flames surrounding it as they ripped through opener “Nightmare”. With each song came a new lighting scheme and a new effect on the stage. For “Hail to the King” (which they dedicated to the Seahawks. Smart, easy way to win over the crowd), they brought a giant skeleton king out on the stage as they played. Flames ran across the stage in cool patterns for several songs. There was an emotional moment as they dedicated “Seize The Day” to their fallen drummer Rev, and played doused in blue light. I could easily see why they headlined the day at Mayhem Fest with their amazing stage show. By the time they left the stage, it was after 11pm and it was time to hit the road. Naturally, I had to have the post concert traditioon of Dick’s Burgers in Seattle on the way home.

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All in all, Mayhem Fest 2014 was an amazing day. There was a lot of surprises throughout the day and it was well worth the ticket price. The best stage show was hands down Avenged Sevenfold. My personal favorite of the day was Body Count. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year!

-Ronnie Angel

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