I guess Mayhem Festival was a typical metal festival, I got caught in the mosh pit, lost my croc, went back in to get my croc from the pit, got a little overheated, girl took off her pants, Slipknot costumes everywhere, long lines, expensive beer, you know the day, we have all been there. This festival was a non-working one, no paper, no recording devices just pure enjoyment. So don’t expect set lists and song rundowns, from this one. What struck me was the quality of the main stage, which is typically where this festival falls short. Don’t get me wrong, they usually draw tremendous 2 out of the 4 or 5 closing acts but traditionally over the past 3 years leading up to this, the last two closing acts were mismatched for the crowd, but not this year.
The act that stole the festival on the side stages this year was a hardcore act out of France called Betraying The Martyrs. These kids (yeah to me they were kids) came out and dropped a bomb on Chicago. High energy, great sound, incredible crowd engagement, did I mention high energy. These lads put on a fantastic show, and I would definitely see them again live. The whole band was crowd engaging, they had that sea of people going absolutely nuts, it is great to see a younger band like Betraying The Martyrs know how to work a festival crowd, hats off to a job well done.
Show condolences go out to Asking Alexandria, another hardcore act. They came out too well the worst music mix I have ever heard. All treble, no bass, little or no drums, and the vocals were so low it was hard to hear. They got it straightened out after a couple of songs, but to no fault of Asking Alexandria it was too late, the crowd was lost and flat. I may not care for Asking Alexandria but its sad when the people who do care don’t get to enjoy them. Raspberries to the sound crew on this one, way to keep going chugging along in the face of disaster Asking Alexandria!
Not to be slighted Whitechapel‘s second appearance at Mayhem Festival was powerful but in the heat of the day crowds were looking for shade, beer, and misters. The Devil Wears Prada put on a great set as well, I think, during most of their show I was that guy sitting on the fence drinking water and trying to catch my breath after the pit. At a certain age venturing into the pits can leave lingering affects.
Moving on to the main stage, which opened with As I Lay Dying. Great show, got the crowd pumped up in spite of everyone yelling Slayer all the time. At least no one yelled Freebird that I could hear. Musicians in America will know what I mean on that one. As I Lay Dying really put on a great show.
They turned the stage over to Motorhead! Lemmy and company just blew everyone away, well it’s Lemmy! Even beyond their status as elder statesmen of metal and rock-n-roll, they played with such cohesion and coordination it had everyone singing along and throwing horns through their entire set. I was absolutely blown away by the sheer musicality and talent of these three gents. The drumming was literally insane, the guitar was astounding, and how Lemmy tied all this together on his bass was just magical.
It was loud, mixed perfectly, and just a powerful show. Being the iconic figure Lemmy is, he belts out at one point “No Motorhead show would be complete without this song, if you know it sing it, if you don’t fuck it and make up your own words”; of course it was none other than “Ace of Spades”, but with a sea of people belting it out it makes for an amazing time.
Giving way to the almighty Slayer, my friend and I looked at each other, looked around and agreed they are gonna need more security here on the lawn. Alas, everyone has an off night and this was Slayer‘s off night. Kerry and Dave were totally into the show, crushing it from one side of the stage to the other. The duelling guitar work was nothing short of brilliant, but, you knew there was one coming, but, Tom was really just flat this night. It’s Slayer right, so even on their off night, most bands could only wish for a performance like theirs. It just wasn’t what you expect from a Slayer show, three years ago the lawn at this venue was literally one huge pit, and it looked like an atomic bomb went off. This night, there were pits, lots of horns and sing along from the crowd but it was just flat.
Now on to the showstealers of the day, the ubiquitous, Iowa bred, band of many, Slipknot. Maybe each show has only one atomic bomb it can drop, if that is the case, the knot got the honors in Chicago this night. Having never seen Slipknot, I have always heard they put on a great show. My friend that was with me, is an Iowa native that recounted seeing this band of misfits at small watering holes with titles like Two Slices, and assured me that they have always put on a great show.
Great just doesn’t cover it, when the curtain dropped and Corey Taylor, aka No. 8, came out and just nailed it with the crowd, you know that immediate performer crowd connection, Taylor got it and didn’t let go. 0 and 6 worked the crowd as did the rest of their jump-suited mates did. 6’s rising percussion kit and 0 hanging on and jumping off, just added more gasoline to the fire. 4 and 7 were spot on in their guitar work, their complimentary flair was a thing to see. Percussion led by the great Joey Jordison was sheer perfection, I am not sure that Joey Jordison is even human with the speed and perfection he played with on this night.
Through every song, Corey had the crowd so pumped and into the show, it was truly an amazing experience. I have never seen this many fans stay this long at Mayhem but very very few left before knot and no one left early. Complete boil over came when the background visuals changed to a huge No. 2, Corey comes out talking about Paul and what Chicago means to him and the band, then dropped into “Duality”, how could one not be moved when 15,000 or so people are all screaming “I pushed my fingers into my eeeyyyees”.
Slipknot gave this show more than I thought possible, even my Iowa native mate said, that was the best he has ever seen them. It was probably the best performance of the last four years at Mayhem even eclipsing the great Rob Zombie’s performance. No one yelled “Slayer” during their set so you know it had to be good. The night belonged to Slipknot and they grabbed it by the balls and never let go! To quote Mr. Taylor “All I’ve got is insane” and that is what they had one perfectly insane show.