The 2015 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival arrived in town on Wednesday, July 29, boasting metal veterans Slayer and King Diamond as headliners. Now in its eighth year of existence, the festival-style tour promotes a package of established metal veterans (Slipknot, Korn, Rob Zombie have all acted as past headliners) along with a slew of up-and-coming hard rock & heavy metal acts. The overall size of this year’s tour was scaled down considerably from previous years. Gone were the larger second stage (previously sponsored by Coldcock Whiskey/Jagermeister) and the Metal Mulisha motorcycle performances, but the core purpose of hard rock and heavy metal was most definitely present and accounted for.
Due to the fact that I was photographing the show and was being moved and sequestered to and from a variety of areas, I didn’t get to see the full set from a lot of the bands. So, instead of a proper, full review of the show I hope that this list of highlights (and lowlights) will give a fuller picture as to what exactly went down:
Surprise(s) of the Day: Shattered Sun & Sister Sin. Both bands gave fist-pumping performances that were enhanced by tight musicianship. As for Sister Sin I can only ask: how many kick-ass metal bands have come out of Sweden in the past several years? That country is a hot-bed of talent. Honorable mention: Jungle Rot
Band You Might Have Missed: Burning Fair Verona. Unfortunately, a 1:00 P.M. starting time slot meant a sparse crowd for the unsigned, Florida-based, Coldcock Whiskey contest winners. Regardless, they went for broke and performed like true pros, seemingly having a blast in the process.
Musician(s) Who Made Me Say “Wow” – TIE: Guitarist Daniel Trejo of Shattered Sun, and drummer Vinnie Paul of Hellyeah. I’m not sure what it was about Daniel Trejo’s playing that caught my ear, but in a day full of fantastic guitar playing he seemed to stand out from the crowd. As for Vinnie Paul, his double-bass drumming hits you like a locomotive & I think he’s one of the best hard rock/metal drummers in the business. Honorable mention: Paul Bostaph of Slayer and Andy LaRocque of King Diamond.
Best Local Tie-In: Lariyah Hayes’ (from the Atlanta occult metal band Khaotika) performance with Sister Sin. A very nice “welcome back” to the stage after the band’s horrible car accident this past April.
Most Spontaneous Moment: Thy Art Is Murder vocalist CJ McMahon brought the day’s two best. 1) Totally throwing himself into his performance, AND into the crowd for a bit of crowd surfing and 2.) Helping to form a…as he put it…“twerkle” pit for some of the mosh-shy ladies in the crowd who were looking to get into the action.
Best Perk: Free Rockstar Energy Drinks! On a muggy, 93 plus degree day, having free drinks to stay hydrated was not only convenient, but downright economical compared to the $4.75 bottles of water at the concession stands.
Bummer of the Day: Unfortunate scheduling. Due to the logistical reality of only running two stages this year, the last two bands on the Victory Records Stage (Kissing Candace & Feed Her To The Sharks) were scheduled between The Devil Wears Prada and Hellyeah on the Main Stage. That meant that fans had to run back and forth across the venue grounds to catch the full show from each band. Unfortunately, many people went to the Main Stage for TDWP and just stayed there for the rest of the evening.
Loser of the Day: The Atlanta metal community. I realize that this year’s scaled-down lineup may have been a little lackluster vs the ticket price. I realize that the show was held on a Wednesday afternoon and many people can’t get off from work. I also realize that it was hot as hell, but the paltry turnout to this year’s tour was a downright embarrassment. This was a metal show, and yet in and around the Main Stage there was an air of calm and stillness. It was quiet like a library. I overheard many people saying things like ”this is so sad,” and “where is everybody?” I guess the only good thing about the turnout is that if the tour returns next year, it will definitely be more well attended, because I don’t think it can get much worse.
Unsung Hero(s) of the Day: The bands. Credit needs to be given to each and every band that performed, because what I saw was 100 percent effort. They did everything they could to get and keep the crowd revved up, involved and entertained. Even this little guy got into the action:
Overall Winner of the Day – King Diamond. His theatrical stage show, falsetto vocal range and talented band were a perfect choice for the Main Stage. I’m a late convert to King Diamond’s music, but after his performance I’ve found myself digging back through his catalog to find out what I’ve been missing all of these years. A top notch performance and presentation from a metal legend.
Main Stage Gallery