Music Reviews — 01 August 2011
Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2011: A LocalBozo.com Review

The Rockstar Mayhem Festival

Disturbed, Godsmack, Megadeth, Trivium, & Machine Head
Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ
July 31, 2011

The LocalBozo crew is committed to bringing you the very best of New York on a daily basis. However sometimes, the allure of things going on elsewhere- just a short ways away- is such that we must leave town in order to bring you coverage of some truly excellent happenings. One such instance was this weekend’s Rockstar Mayhem Festival, which made a stop off yesterday at the Susquehanna Bank Center in nearby Camden, NJ- a quick hour and a half jaunt outside of our city limits. And it surely was a ride worth taking.

The Mayhem Festival is a multiple city, summer music tour featuring the very best in hard rock and heavy metal music. Because of the massive size and multiple stages involved in each show on the tour, the Festival was forced to pass Manhattan by. But as lifetime rockers, our attendance wasn’t even in question. So we piled into the car and headed down the infamous Jersey Turnpike. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, we could smell the metal in the air. Fans of all walks of life stood outside of their cars blasting tunes and drinking brews. It was a summer day when not a cloud shone in the sky. Fans began haunting cheers of “Mayhem” that would be heard by others and repeated creating thunderous chants of support. Even though the lot was a sight to be seen, the real festival began just past the front gates.

The stage setup to Mayhem was brilliant and the event was expertly run.  Each of the headline acts would play inside the pavilion during the evening, but the side stages literally had their own separate concert grounds, in what felt like two distinct shows. The smaller outdoor stages, sponsored by Revolver magazine and Jagermeister respectively, were actually located in a parking lot, just to the side of the venue.

The parking lot stage area provided festival goers with a handful of great attractions, when bands weren’t on stage. Tents were set up in a row selling merchandise for each band, and at certain times, said bands were doing signings. These were immensely popular since fans could do a meet and greet with their favorite metal artist, while getting something signed to remember the day. More importantly, the side stages gave the crowd nonstop music. Once one band left one stage, another one was ready to go on the other, which was a seamless transition for frenzied concertgoers.

Blog: Mayhem Fest - Machinehead

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After 4 hours of solid bands alternating with thirty minute support sets, metal band Machine Head took to the Revolver stage for their headlining, pre-main stage performance. Once the band emerged from the back, they were greeted with a ton of love from the massively gathered crowd. Their sound was both pitch perfect and loud, just like it should be. Looking out to the sea of black shirted metal enthusiasts, frontman Robb Flynn posed, “Camden. One question: do you know how to headbang?” The band followed suit by not letting us rest for a minute of their admittedly short set and we were thankful for that. The energy was such that it let him command the crowd to form circle pits and waive shirts around in the air- helicopter style; both of which electrified the band, giving them the motivation to rock even harder.

Blog: Mayhem Fest - Megadeth

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The time for the main stage acts was soon upon us and we took our seats just in time for one of metal’s elite- Megadeth. As the banner donning their signature logo rose up, so did the crowd, screaming and throwing up fists. The crowd both on the lawn and inside the amphitheater were beyond exhilarated, championing each band member with raucous applause as they took the stage. With a fury, the band took center stage, opening with the incredible opening riff of “Trust.” The capacity crowd exploded, singing along to every word of the epic track from the “Cryptic Writings,” album. Frontman Dave Mustaine stood there confidently, taking in all of the accolades, while shredding on his axe and belting out his classic lyrics with surgeon like precision. Throughout their hour long set the guys ripped through staples “Wake Up Dead,”"Hanger 18,”and “Symphony Of Destruction.” The band also treated us to a new song- “Public Enemy No. 1,” one of the tracks from their soon to be released October album, “TH1RT3EN.” It’s a signature Megadeth tune, whetting our appetites for the tasty new album.

Blog: Mayhem Fest - Godsmack

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Next up on the main stage were the hard rocking boys from Massachusetts, Godsmack. Formed in 1995, Godsmack has garnered tons of success on the modern rock charts, while becoming road dogs, going out on at least one tour a year. Erna recently came through New York on a successful solo run from his album “Avalon,” but it is when leading Godsmack that the singer truly shines brightest. Throughout their Mayhem set, Godsmack gave the fans exactly what they paid for, busting out hits like “Straight Out Of Line,” “Awake,” and “Voodoo.” The highlight of their set occured when lead singer Sully Erna joined drummer Shannon Larkin in a spirited drum duel, with each of them taking turns giving the audience some incredible solos. At one point Erna and Larkin joined forces for a drum medley of some of hard rock’s greatest hits including Metallica’s “Creeping Death” and AC/DC’s “Back In Black.” Needless to say the sold out crowd gave them a lot of love and ate up every second of closing cuts “Whatever” and “I Stand Alone.” Erna’s work with his guitar during the first half of the set, drumwork on the incredible duel, and vocals throughout, truly show what a talent the enigmatic frontman is, and why Godsmack has such exquisite longevity in a time when modern rock as a format seems to be falling by the wayside commercially.

Blog: Mayhem Fest - Disturbed

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After a full day of blistering metal, going out on a high note was essential. Luckily, a powerhouse known as Disturbed was up for the task. No strangers to headlining tours, Disturbed was setup with an intricate stage display, being the first band at the show to utilize pyrotechnics and a massively illuminated screen behind them. Following a brief video introduction, frontman David Draiman and company stridently took the stage, rifling through a bevy of their hit songs. Despite circulating rumors that the band is headed for a break-up, fueled by Draiman’s own Twitter musings regarding the uncertainty of Disturbed’s future, they were cohesive as ever on stage. While the singer’s voice seemed a little off, pitchy perhaps, the tunes remained familiar and their energy kept the vociferous crowd lively throughout their hour long set. Wasting no time with what can be described as the band’s usual ‘schtick,’ the band opened with the pulverizing title track off of their newest (and fifth) studio album “Asylum,” right into head pounding versions of “The Game,” “Prayer,” and “Liberate” coupled with some incredible visuals from the large screens behind them. The band sprinkled other hits like an awesome version of “Inside the Fire,” “Stupify,” “Ten Thousand Fists,” and Indestructible,” in between “The Animal,” and “Warrior,” solid cuts from the new album. And just as the crowd had reached its peak, or perhaps was just about to fade, a closing cure of “Down With the Sickness” was in order to ramp the crowd back up, just in time for their rides home. Ours may have been longer than most, but in the spirit of metal, it was simply a journey worth taking.

-Jayson Rubin & Jane Van Arsdale

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