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2008 Rockstar Mayhem Festival (Part 2) – [Live Review]

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Wednesday, 30 July 2008

(This is part 2 of our coverage of the 2008 Rockstar Mayhem Festival. Part 1 can be viewed here.)

After a couple of beers and chilling out for a bit, it was time to head back over to the Jägermeister stage again to catch one of the bands that I was really looking forward to seeing today, the Bay Area's own Machine Head.

Standing in the photo pit in front of the stage with an endless sea of people behind me while Ozzy's "Diary of a Madman" blared out of the PA, I couldn't help but feel the perfect storm that was brewing. And as I took in all the building tension I flashed back to 1985's Day on the Green, and standing on the grass before Metallica hit the stage. People today were that excited about seeing this band. I also thought to myself that coincidentally, members of Machine Head were also probably standing on the same field that very same day all those years ago.

As Robb Flynn and his band finally hit the stage the crowd just fucking erupted, and watching them through the lens of my camera I was in total awe. The band’s energy level far surpassed any band that I had seen today, and together all four members totally fed off the rabid crowd. Flynn and fellow guitarist Phil Demmel had a twin guitar attack that was so brutal it met if not exceeded anything they ever did in Vio-Lence, which is saying a lot. After the classic "Imperium" and a brutal rendition of Maiden's "Hallowed Be Thy Name" I was left totally floored by Machine Head, and have gained a whole new level of respect for this band. I only wished that they were playing the main stage, because like Mastodon, they deserve it.

Never really having been into power metal, (i.e., dork metal) I gotta admit that I really wasn't expecting too much from DragonForce, the second band up on the main stage. And although I really couldn't get into their set, I will say that I was very surprised by both their talent and their stage presence. Hailing from London, England, these six guys put on a pretty frantic set complete with dueling guitar solos and a keytar (yes, a keytar). It really wasn't my thing, but the crowd seemed to dig 'em, and for that I give them their dues.

Next up on the main stage this evening was Disturbed, another band who I just have never really been able to get into. And like DragonForce, I really wasn't into the music but I was totally impressed with their showmanship. These guys know how to put on one hell of a rock show. Singer Dave Draiman had the entire crowd eating out of his hands, and at one point had ten thousand people chanting U-S-A, U-S-A!!! And while watching the entire place explode when the band launched into the opening chords of "Down With The Sickness" I'll be the first to admit that I was impressed with Disturbed, and thought they were the perfect band to play before the headliner of the evening.

After what was by far the longest intermission of the day, Slipknot finally hit the stage and proceeded to put on a show for the ages. I'm really not sure where to begin reviewing their performance. With nine guys on stage, a wheel chair, an elevated drum kit and enough pyro to launch a small rocket, it was half rock show, half circus. There was so much going on stage that it was hard to catch it all. Vocalist Corey Taylor was the master of ceremonies this evening, and although the crowd had a full day of metal, beer and heat, he had them head banging and pumping their fists like there was no tomorrow. And if drummer Joey Jordison wasn't enough, there were also two percussionists marching around on the stage like a couple of masked madmen. Although the set list was mostly older material, the band did play one new song, "Psychosocial," and it pretty much just kicked ass. As the band finally wrapped up their hour-long set I was left with a whole new appreciation for them.

Looking back on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival, I have to say that I was pretty damn impressed with the entire show. It was extremely well organized and had a pretty diverse lineup of bands—something for everybody. And although I was only able to cover half the bands that played today I caught a ton of killer live music. It looks like this will be an annual summer tour, and I personally cannot wait to see who they come up with next year.

Rockstar Mayhem Festival (info and tour dates):
www.mayhemfest.com

Artists:
www.machinehead1.com
www.dragonforce.com
www.disturbed1.com
www.slipknot1.com

Downloads:
DragonForce – “Operation Ground and Pound” – [mp3]
Machine Head – “Aethetics of Hate” – [mp3]
Machine Head – “Bulldozer” – mp3]
Machine Head – “Days Turn Blue to Gray” – [mp3]
Slipknot – “Heretic Song” – [mp3]
Slipknot – “The Blister Exists” – [mp3]

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