Review and photographs by Jessica Ayotte
This year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival held four stages with over 20 performances by some of the biggest names in metal music, along with some newer artists. Hosted at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the main stage included Amon Amarth, Mastodon, Five Finger Death Punch and, last but not least, Rob Zombie. On the Jägermeister stage, five bands performed, which included the headlining band for this stage, Machinehead, a metal band out of Oakland, California. Job For a Cowboy, Butcher Babies, Battlecross and Huntress also performed on the Jägermeister stage. The third stage, sponsored by the Music Institute, had six more bands perform, and headlining was Children Of Bodom, along with Emmure, Born of Osiris, Attika 7, Motionless in White and Thrown Into Exile. A smaller fourth stage sponsored by Sumerian Records hosted five more bands, including Scorpion Child, City in the Sea and winners from the Headbang For the Highway contest.
Along with plenty of bands, there were vendors, giveaways and contests for fans to take part in. Throughout the whole day there was always something to do, and bands played back-to-back from when the gates opened (1pm) to when the whole festival was over (11pm).
During the day, I spent most of my time at the Jägermeister stage, because that was the one that was most talked about amongst the crowd. After watching some bands perform, I thought I saw everything from metal bands with a front woman screaming to the crowd, to spectators being hurled across barricades from crowd surfing.
I must say, although metal music is not my preferred cup of tea, I was thoroughly impressed with the performance put on by Job For a Cowboy. The death metal band hailing from Glendale, Arizona, attracted one of the largest crowds at the Jägermeister Stage on Saturday. Playing songs from their albums Genesis (2005), Ruination (2009) and Demoncracy (2012), they had the crowd screaming and moshing through their entire set. Out of most of the bands at Mayhem Festival, I have to say that Job For a Cowboy interacted most with their crowd. Stopping in between songs for an occasional swig of whisky, lead singer Jonny Davy said to the crowd right before the second to last song, “You see these nice people in front of me in the yellow shirts? Doing a fine job on a typical day at work… Well, now it is time to make them do their f***ing job. I want to see every single one of you over this barricade.” Shortly after, swarms of people came pouring in to the arms of security members, being carried or dragged over the barricade. I can’t imagine it was a great time for the SPAC employees, but it sure did add to the whole “mayhem” experience.
After watching all three bands open on the main stage for Rob Zombie, one that stuck in my head particularly was the show put on by Swedish metal band Amon Amarth. Just watching the band set up for their performance was unreal. While I was waiting for their set, crewmembers dragged half of a Viking ship on to the stage, with a demon’s head mounted at the top. With elaborate backdrops of gods in battle, the band also put on an intense performance jumping on and off of their Viking ship. Out of all four bands that played on the main stage, Amon Amarth easily seemed to have the most interest in putting on an entertaining show, and interacted with the crowd quite a bit. Playing songs off of Twilight of the Thunder God (2008), Sutur Rising (2011) and a few tracks from their newest album Deceiver of the Gods (2013), Amon Amarth put on a theatrical performance that I will certainly remember.
With that unique act to follow, Rob Zombie set the stage in a trench coat, emerging from smoke barreling out of a giant skull with “Zombie” written across the top. For every song there was a new outfit and a new theme – during “Living Dead Girl,” Zombie was joined on stage by monsters pointing searchlights into the crowd. With SPAC’s amphitheater and lawn nearly filled for his performance, everyone was engaged just to see what he would do next. After playing a few of his own songs, Zombie somehow managed to get himself in to an Uncle Sam outfit and performed his own version of “We’re an American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad. Finishing the show with fireworks, aliens and monsters taking over the stage, I have to say that Rob Zombie is a great act to see, whether you’re in to metal music or not.
Sam Moyer’s review at The Saratogian
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Rob Zombie and company were naturally the flashiest band to take the stage, immediately setting off pyrotechnics for opening number ‘Teenage Nosferatu Pussy’ off the new album ‘Venemous Rat Regeneration Vendor.’ The band’s later cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s ‘We’re an American Band’ also came from this record, but for the most part the band stuck to classic material from Zombie’s older solo albums and his previous band, White Zombie. Here, the eye candy often outweighed the song being performed, whether it was the disturbing video screens on ‘Living Dead Girl,’ the robot/human hybrid puppet roaming the stage during ‘More Human Than Human’ or the elaborate cart Zombie wheeled out during ‘Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy).’ But musically the band was right on, often sounding mechanically precise — which, for this rapid-fire style of industrial-tinged metal, is just perfect. Guitarist John 5 proved his worth on the aforementioned ‘More Human Than Human’ and a snarling solo on the White Zombie classic ‘Thunder Kiss ’65’ late in the main set.”