The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival has come through Pittsburgh every year since the very first year, and thankfully I’ve been able to attend more often than not. This year’s show took place on Saturday, July 18th. I still believe that the 2011 show was one of the best shows that I have ever been to, with 2013 being one of the best years for the festival as a whole. After last year’s infamous torrential downpour and thunderstorm resulting in Avenged Sevenfold getting rained out less than five songs into their set, it was looking grim when the weather forecast was calling for similar weather all day. Luckily, upon checking the weather first thing in the morning, I had the all-clear and took off for a day of heavy metal and sweltering heat.
Shattered Sun These guys were just taking the stage around the time I got into the venue, which means I timed my drive perfectly as they were the first band of the day that I actually didn’t want to miss. They were very reminiscent of seeing Trivium earlier in their career and you’ll probably see these guys around again in the near future. Sup Marcos, remember me? I may have forgotten to mention that this photo would end up here.
Sister Sin I wasn’t familiar with this band before the show, and that’s probably because they are from the great white north. I mean Sweden by the way, remember that I said “great.” They were definitely a pleasant surprise for that stage, if it’s not obviously based on what I write about, I have a soft spot for melodic metal. They had a very Halestorm-esque feel to them, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Jungle Rot If there is one word that could describe Jungle Rot, it would be “heavy.” These guys are veterans, and their live show definitely shows it. When they asked for a tsunami of crowd surfers, they got their wish.Their guitarist does one of the best windmills I’ve ever seen, all without sacrificing his playing.
I can’t say that I’m the biggest Whitechapel fan, but they sounded great when I heard “The Saw is the Law,” so I’ll base my judgement on that. They seemed to have the largest crowd on the Victory Records stage too, so obviously I wasn’t the only one who thought they did well. It’s no surprise why these guys keep on coming back for the festival.
The Devil Wears Prada
I can’t say much for their performance, but I did have an excellent time grabbing some chicken strips and one last drink at the Rockstar tent while they were on stage.
While they played well, and had a nice set-up on stage, unfortunately these guys were plagued with sound issues from the very start. Luckily, somebody seemed to have fixed some of the low guitar issues by the end of the set, but the drums were overbearing to say the least. For the rest of this article, Hellyeah will be referred to as “Bass Drum the Musical.” Vinnie Paul is a great drummer, and the band probably had nothing to do with this, but the sound of his kick drum was so overpowering that it completely washed out the guitars. So to whoever mic’ed the bass drums for him, take this as a piece of constructive criticism and take some time to speak with someone from the King Diamond or Slayer camp. Until then, back those microphones up a couple inches.
I will say this for Pittsburgh, we may not have came out in numbers, but we did come out with intensity.
This was simply the most elaborate stage setup that I have ever seen, it was glorious to behold. You can actually check out some awesome shots of it, and the rest of the festival for that matter, here. It was a greatest hits setlist to precede the album that’s going to follow the tour, that even featured some Mercyful Fate tunes. After Bass Drum the Musical, I was glad to have all aspects of the music audible and mixed appropriately, because although King has that high flying voice it sounded perfect. There is very good reason that King has been around for as long as he has, and he hasn’t lost a beat throughout his surgery and recovery. Simply put, hail to the king!
We’re going to rip this bandaid off real quick. I am not exactly a Slayer fan, and I think having them headline 3 out of 8 years is a special kind of stupid (notably biased opinion). That said, they put on a killer show. They looked great, sounded phenomenal, and their stage set-up was absolutely on point. They kicked off the show with their new song “Repentless,” and ended with my two favorites “Raining Blood,” and “Angel of Death.” Their inverted cross fire jet cannon things were also a very cool addition. I could feel the fire from my seat, I couldn’t imagine being in Paul Bostaph’s seat. It was hot enough that day without the additions of a 20 ft. tall wall of fire.
I have been to a lot of shows at this venue before, many of them the Mayhem Fests past. Walking past a fenced-off lawn section confused me at first. I had never seen that before, and thought that maybe they were just keeping people off of it until the main stage was opening up. Maybe they were cracking down on underage drinking, which I’ve seen them steadily ramp up their efforts for the past few years, and smoking marijuana. Nope. They didn’t even open up the lawn for the show, and all GA tickets got upgraded to the pavilion. All of them. I have never seen that before at this venue, especially when every other year at Mayhem they have a lawn full enough to accommodate multiple large mosh pits all at the same time. It definitely did not hit me how empty it was until I looked back and saw nobody there during King Diamond’s set.
Luckily I was able to survive the day with only minor sunburn on my face, but some poor souls were not so fortunate and there was one in particular stood out to me. There was a larger, shirtless man that more resembled a tattooed Dr. Zoidberg from behind, with what at first seemed to be a very short, and white, haircut. Except, that wasn’t hair, he had just been wearing a hat for the whole day and had a strong divide between the top of his bald dome and a large portion of his body that was certainly going to hurt by the time he sobered up. It’s that image burned into my head that brought me to this be brilliant idea. Why don’t sunblock companies jump onto these all-day, summer festivals as sponsors? I don’t know if it’s just me thinking that they would make a great sponsor, but that strikes me as brilliant marketing to hand out free samples to the patrons.
While I’m here and have the opportunity, this is directed towards whoever is in charge of what kind of merch the festival is going to sell. Please bring back Mayhem festival flags. I can’t wear the same shirt everyday (in good conscience), but I can look on my wall and smile at what’s hanging there. It doesn’t have to be every year, I don’t have that much wall space, but every couple makes for a nice change of pace.
Rockstar Energy Drink Flavor Reviews:
Concerts are expensive, and summers are hot. If there is one thing that I have always loved about Rockstar sponsoring this tour (and Uproar I might add) it’s getting to try out all of the new flavored beverages. When a water bottle is $4.75/ea, the scrooge in me rears it’s ugly head and I end up pretty dehydrated by the end of the day. With the refreshment tents they always have, I have always been way more willing to show up and brave the heat and sun knowing I can settle in the shade of their tent with cold drinks and then at least carry around a can and refill it with water. That results in seeing more bands, and usually having a better festival experience. *Whispers* Also while I’m here, I’d really appreciate it if you brought back the Rockstar Relax.
Pure Zero: Punched (not pictured) – This was just a sugar/calorie free version of their regular fruit punch flavored drink. That was always a personal favorite of mine, but I wasn’t huge on the changed flavor. It was still pretty decent as far as zero calorie drinks go. 3.5 free cans out of 5.
Sparkling Energy: Cherry Citrus – Loved it. It wasn’t too abrasive with the cherry or citrus flavors, and was absolutely refreshing in the 80+ degree weather. 4 popped cherry cans out of 5.
Sparkling Energy: Peach – Enjoyable. Peach is an easy flavor to screw up with drinks, but this was pretty good. It was kind of like a peach ring flavored Sprite. Just as refreshing in the weather, but I wasn’t too huge a fan and apparently the other attendees felt the same as these were the ones they were stuck giving away alone at the end. 3 peach rings out of 5.