Mayhem Festival - San Manuel Amphitheater - 6/29/13
Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival
San Manuel Amphitheater
If you'd said that direct sunshine and metal were mortal enemies, you'd be right in so many ways. So why was San Manuel Amphitheater's Festival Grounds and Dustbowl covered in black-clad metal kids on the hottest, brightest day of the year like swarming ants on a pile of sugar? Because people are batshit insane, that's why.
Despite the heat and the contradictions, the whole day was a big wonderful mess of greasy, salty and inebriated metal people set to the throbby music that makes them tick. The whole thing was perfectly representative of the giant inclusive tent of magnificent that is heavy metal music. Here's how it all panned out:
After a hellish early afternoon fenderbender (so don't give me your, "But you only talked about the headliners, poseur!" bullshit), I made it, but only after missing sets from bands whose names sound like some middle school poetry. (Motionless in White? Thrown Into Exile? Oof.)
Timothy Norris Butcher Babies in heat.
I talked to a few groups in the press tent, including the Butcher Babies -- L.A.'s sex-forward shrieking harridans. They know the score. I asked, "What is the most metal-as-fuck city are you guys are going to on this tour? Drummer Chrissy Warner replied, "Edmonton is metal as fuck!"
I also spoke with Huntress -- L.A.'s other sex-forward thrashers. Frontwoman and Highland Park-er Jill Janus on how her and her band are bonding like old people,"We're watching a lot of Golden Girls re-runs and eating a lot of Werther's Originals on couches." Sounds like a recipe for monster-truckloads of sexual energy.
Attika 7, the downtuned and chunky biker swag-metal act from Biohazard's Evan Seinfeld, had just barely survived the swelter. Seinfeld and his guitarist / Sons of Anarchy star Rusty Coones were coping with the heat by shedding much of their leather. "You know how you get that kinda weird feeling before you get dizzy? I was at that point," Coones said.
After that I went out to brave the hordes. I was wincing down a warm Red Bull (for B vitamins) before I'd realized the severe lapse in decorum: Rockstar Energy drink was sponsoring. Still, I got amped all the same.
It's not hard to appreciate these Swedes. They've embraced the cartoonish so fully that I couldn't help but smile every time they did anything or said anything. Their stage prop was the front end of a Disney-style viking long-ship and they used it like all-too-happy berzerkers marauding through a deathmetal candyland. Musically, however, they were unfucakable. Before furiously charging into "Death In Flames" lead singer Johan Hegg screamed "Let's see those horns!" And the fans didn't put them down for the duration of the perfect example of death and melody. Clean licks of triumphant guitar chugged along by engine-precise drumming and Hegg's raspy growl whipped up a paroxysmal symphony. The kids, they loved it. And who's gonna argue with the kids?