Live Sounds: Mayhem Festival 2014 Review

On July 23rd, 2014, the Rockstar Mayhem Festival rolled into Saratoga Performing Arts Center for what would be a hot and humid day. Temperatures reaching around 90°F didn’t keep festival goers away, they packed the Coldcock Herbal Whiskey stage, the Sumerian stage and the Victory Records stage early on in the day. They were there to catch bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Body Count featuring Ice-T, Miss May I, Suicide Silence, Texas Hippie Coalition and Mushroomhead. Other bands performing on the side stages were Emmure, Veil of Maya, Ill Nino, Wretched, Islander, Erimha Darkest Hour, Upon A Burning Body, and King 810. Of course though, the main attraction was later in the day on the Rockstar Energy Drink Main stage with Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Korn and Avenged Sevenfold performing.

DSC_0884 Our day started off with the band Texas Hippie Coalition, a band that was described as a “Pantera type band” by a friend. Their 5 song set started off with their song “Hands Up” and finished with “Pissed Off and Mad About It.” “El Diablo Rojo,” “Turn It Up” and “Whiskey Burn” filled in between those songs. Cord Pool and John Exall shredded on guitar and bass while Gunnar Molton kept the beat on drums and Richard “Big Dad Rich” Anderson’s big vocals didn’t disappoint. They put on a great performance and were one of my favorites off the side stages.

DSC_1043 Mushroomhead would be the next band we’d check out. I was a little hesitant because I try to stay away from bands with gimmicks such as masks and stuff but they had enough intrigue that I couldn’t miss them. Turns out I was glad I didn’t miss them. Their set included a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Empty Spaces,” as well as “Our Apologies,” “Sun Doesn’t Rise,” “We Are the Truth,” “Solitaire/Unraveling,” “The Dream Is Over” and finished up with “Born of Desire.” Besides the fact that the masks were pretty cool, I was impressed that the band had three singers and two drummers. The three vocals were a nice mixture of clean and unclean vocals. I found myself banging my head to a few of the songs and overall enjoyed their performance. Probably my second favorite off the side stages.

DSC_1233 We’d close out the side stages with a band that I wanted to see more for the lead singer than anything and that band was Body Count featuring Ice-T. Being a fan of Law & Order: SVU, which Ice-T has played a big part in for a while now, I couldn’t pass the opportunity up. Body Count probably drew the biggest crowd of the side stages but some of it might have had something to do with Ice-T’s gorgeous wife, Coco, being on stage as well. I honestly couldn’t get into their jams, it just wasn’t my style, but the crowd seemed to love it and responded great to the music.

DSC_1337 Now for the main stage, where Trivium opened up. I know a few of the band’s songs from the Octane station on SiriusXM so I was looking forward to seeing them live. I was actually kind of disappointed. I felt like their set lacked energy. After a few songs I took the opportunity to stretch my legs and then hit the concession stand and bathroom. Next up was Asking Alexandria, a British band that I’ve only heard of but had never listened to. They really didn’t catch my attention until their last song, “The Death of Me.” I just saw these bands as a way to kill time until the band I was highly anticipating seeing came on.

DSC_1459 And that band was up next, metal gods, Korn! With the return of Brian “Head” Welch, after an 8 year absence from the band, this was as close as I was going to get to seeing an original lineup. Would they live up to my expectations after waiting almost 21 years to see them? Without a doubt! They blew the roof off the amphitheater with a mix of old and new songs! Classics such as “Blind,” “Falling Away from Me,” “Twist,” “Got the Life,” “Shoots and Ladders,” and “Freak on a Leash” were met with the same excitement from the crowd as the newer hits like “Spike in My Veins,” “Hater,” “Coming Undone,” and “Never Never.” They definitely proved why they’ve had the staying power that they’ve had. Jonathan Davis met each song with the intensity that he had 20 years ago. They almost seemed like a well-oiled machine! I’m not sure why I waited this long to see them, but I can promise it won’t be this long until I see them again!

DSC_0192 To round up this pretty awesome day of metal music was new metal legends, Avenged Sevenfold. With one of the most elaborate stage set ups I’ve ever seen, the band showed why they were the finale. This was the 3rd time in the past year I’ve gotten to see Avenged Sevenfold live and it just doesn’t get old. Catchy melodies, awesome guitar riffs, and an awesome stage presence are part of the reason you keep wanting to come back and see them again and again. M. Shadow’s energy is infectious and his connection to the crowd is about the best in the business. An awesome memorial of cellphones and lighters to fallen drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan was put on during “So Far Away.” Newer hits like “Shepherd of Fire,” “Hail to the King,” and “This Means War” were mixed in with older hits like “Bat Country,” “Almost Easy,” “Afterlife,” “Nightmare” and “Buried Alive.” The show closed with the band doing an encore featuring “A Little Piece of Heaven” and “Unholy Confessions.” Don’t ever pass up the opportunity to see this band in person, you’ll regret it!

Overall, despite the heat, it was a great day for metal. The Mayhem Festival is a staple to any metalhead’s summer concert list. Make sure to check out their site ( for dates, info and more!

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