Words and Photos By: Michael and Terri Gonzales
The seventh annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival brought its incredible lineup and festivities to the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Illinois on Sunday, July 20, 2014. The annual heavy metal festival was originally created by Kevin Lyman, the Vans Warped Tour founder, and John Reese, who is Lyman’s partner on the Taste of Chaos Tour. Since the festival’s inception it has been notorious for being one of the heaviest music festivals around that always consists of a stellar lineup with metal acts of a variety of sub-genres. This year’s fest was certainly one of the heaviest and most diverse Mayhem Festivals to date. The lineup consisted of Erimha, Islander, Wretched, Ill Nino, Emmure, Upon A Burning Body, Darkest Hour, King 810, Texas Hippie Coalition, Mushroomhead, Miss May I, Veil of Maya, Body Count featuring Ice-T, Suicide Silence, and Cannibal Corpse at one the three side stages with Trivium, Asking Alexandria, Korn, and Avenged Sevenfold headlining on the main stage. On top of the all star lineup spread out amongst four stages, Mayhem Fest also has a wide variety of vendor booths, daily autograph sessions and meet and greets from different bands at each stop, freestyle motocross shows provided by the Metal Mulisha, and much more giving concert goers an experience like no other.
Upon A Burning Body had a huge crowd gather for their set early on in the day and the San Antonio, Texas natives certainly delivered. Their brutal set was perfect for setting the tone of day as many more bands were still to come. Ohio’s masked madmen Mushroomhead performed early on in the afternoon as well. Mushroomhead have a stage show and presence that is truly unique and all their own. With each member donning their own outlandish horror inspired mask, color changing water drums, smoke, strobes, and more the stage transforms into a bit of a musical horror movie. The typical dark indoor venues add an extra element to their performance, but with the afternoon sun blazing down on the fest Mushroomhead’s performance still lived up to its expectations. Despite the lack of darkness the masks, water drums, fog and such were all still present and certainly looked great. Interestingly, the daytime experience that fans got to hear and see was a completely different performance from Mushroomhead’s typical concert. Add in the fact that a couple hundred feet to the left of the crowd and stage the Metal Mulisha crew could be seen hucking themselves through the air performing a variety of freestyle motocross maneuvers helped to keep the crowd’s adrenaline levels pumped up for Mushroomhead’s performance.
The multiple stage set up kept patrons entertained with nonstop music. Chicago locals Veil of Maya were up next and they dominated the stage with their performance. This being their hometown stop on Mayhem Fest, Veil of Maya without a doubt felt the need to deliver a great set for their fans, and their performance was one of the best of the day. It was quite obvious these guys were the hometown heroes as the crowd filled in deep from every angle. Lead vocalist Brandon Butler had the crowd going nuts as he screamed relentlessly and the mosh pit opened huge. Veil of Maya made sure that their hometown performance was one to remember. The band was quite social after their set as well, with the members meandering about the crowd happily speaking with any fans that happened to notice them.
Promptly after Veil of Maya wrapped up their set Miss May I jumped on stage and wasted no time getting things going. There was plenty of imagery supporting their recently released fourth studio album “Rise Of The Lion” via Rise Records. The album is a unique form of reaching out and giving back to their fans as frontman Levi Benton wrote the lyrics for each track based off of letters from fans the band has received over the years. Definitely a different perspective to take for a record that has done excellent for them and created countless dedicated fans. Miss May I put on a high octane performance and the crowd was loving it. Be sure to check out Miss May I live as they will not disappoint.
After a brief intermission one of the most anticipated performances of the entire Mayhem Fest was soon set to take place. Suicide Silence were touring in the U.S. for the first time since the passing of their original frontman Mitch Lucker on Halloween 2012 in a tragic motorcycle accident. After almost a year of inactivity and an unforeseen future, Suicide Silence recruited All Shall Perish frontman, Eddie Hermida in October 2013 and soon began work on new material. Fast forward to July 2014, and just earlier in the week of the show, Suicide Silence released their fourth studio album “You Can’t Stop Me” via Nuclear Blast Records to critical acclaim.
It is never easy for band to regroup and carry on from the loss of any member, especially when it is the lead vocalist. Suicide Silence have managed to do so in an incredible way while honoring their late frontman using his last written song name as the album title. As throngs of fans piled up Suicide Silence took the stage and vocalist Eddie Hermida came through huge as the crowd erupted into a wild frenzy. Suicide Silence performed a variety of old and new material and it was great to see the band be able to carry on and begin a new chapter.
What had to have been one of the most talked about performances when the initial lineup for Mayhem Fest hit the web was Body Count featuring Ice-T. The younger generations more than likely had to Google who Body Count even was since it has been over twenty years since the band first achieved notoriety with their controversial hit “Cop Killer” in 1992. To the older generations there may have been some initial shock and some laughter, but in the end it just goes to showcase the diversity that encompasses Mayhem Fest. Body Count just recently released their fifth studio album “Manslaughter” on Sumerian Records earlier this June and it has helped expose their music and history to an entirely new generation of fans. Ice-T and the boys put on an intense set and the crowd loved it. It was chaos both on stage and in the crowd as Body Count bring a style and energy that is their own.
Soon afterward, the main stage pavilion and lawn area finally opened up for the night. Patrons flocked to their seats and shaded lawn area for some much needed relief from many hours out roasting in the sun earlier in the day. Starting off the main stage performances were thrash veterans Trivium. The Florida rockers put on a set consisting more so of their newer material leaving fans of that era thoroughly pleased. For the fans wanting to hear some older Trivium hits it just was not meant to be this time around. Regardless, Trivium put on a great set to kick off the main stage festivities for the evening.
England’s notorious metal heads Asking Alexandria were next up with two, massive “A’s” fully lit on the stage. Lead vocalist Danny Worsnop was extra fashionable with a lavish white suit coat, tattered jeans, and his signature boots. The crowd was going wild as the lads from across the pond were nonstop about the stage thrashing and flailing. The majority of their set consisted of newer material off of their third studio album “From Death To Destiny” on Sumerian Records late last summer, and also played a few old favorites keeping all of their fans well pleased. Asking Alexandria put on a solid performance and the crowd was going wild every second that they were on stage.
Next up on the main stage was the heavy metal veterans of the tour, Korn with original guitarist Brian “Head” Welch back in the lineup. Korn’s reunion with Head seems to have worked wonders for the band as a whole. As frontman Johnathan Davis‘ custom H.R. Giger microphone stand sat covered on the empty stage every die hard Korn fan in attendance was eager with anticipation. Korn came on the stage as the venue went absolutely insane. Korn played with an intensity that they have not had since back in their earlier days. A fantastic mix of older fan favorites with a few new tracks thrown in rounded out a solid set. To close out their performance Johnathan Davis acknowledged the twenty year anniversary of their debut album and performed the hit “Blind” in honor of that. Davis had his sons join him to get down and headbang as their dad rocked out on stage side by side with them. Korn certainly stole the show with their outstanding performance.
To wrap up the evenings festivities was the final headliner of the evening, Avenged Sevenfold. After Korn’s set was wrapped up the stage was shrouded in a massive curtain. Once the curtains were drawn back the stage now resembled a castle dungeon with a linear row of flames lining the back. Avenged Sevenfold soon made their way out and put on a great performance. The wall of flames at one point extinguished and massive fireballs could be seen at random flying up into the air. Lead vocalist M. Shadows took control of the stage from the moment he stepped out and had the crowd going nuts. Avenged Sevenfold offered a wide variety of songs both new and old with a set list that spanned well over an hour. Regardless of the fact that it was late on a Sunday night the entire venue remained jam packed as Avenged Sevenfold’s hellfire and brimstone stage performance closed out an amazing day of music.
The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival has come a long way in its short life span with an extremely promising future. Since the festivals initial inception the response and turnout has always been huge. With Ozzfest no longer a summer festival option, Mayhem Fest has filled the void and then some providing the ultimate summer heavy metal experience. With a wide variety of patrons, young and old there was a diverse turnout with plenty of children even in attendance. Mayhem Fest has come to be a family affair in a sense as people from all walks of life come together for the simple purpose of enjoying an incredible day of heavy metal music, and this tour stop was a fantastic example of that very thing. For those that have not experienced the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival first hand, it is a one of a kind concert experience that is truly not to be missed. Be sure to stay up to date for next year’s tour as updates becomes available. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our photo galleries from Mayhem Fest.