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Review: Mayhem Festival At Shoreline

In Music
Slayer on the main stage at Mayhem Festival Sunday.

Slayer on the main stage at Mayhem Festival Sunday.

This year’s Mayhem Festival was different. It felt different. Gone was the dread of attending a faceless, corporate-sponsored event. As soon as I entered, I felt at ease. Why? Because I didn’t feel like a chump. Let’s face it, most of the time, festivals like this leave you drowned in a sea of bands you couldn’t care less about. With a lineup that included true metal legends like Slayer, Motorhead and Anthrax, that wasn’t the case Sunday.

Overall, the biggest stroke of genius was the traveling keg. Amongst the crowd of concert goers were wheeled carts with a kegs in them, filled with ice. A tall flag with the type of beer they were serving stuck up out of the back of the carts, so all you had to do was look for the flag. It was like a beer beacon.

Musically, there were some parallels to last year’s Mayhem Fest. Instead of questioning why Testament wasn’t on the main stage, the question was why wasn’t Anthrax on the main stage? No matter, though. Anthrax came out with more energy than guys half their age.  Running amuck and sounding incredible, Anthrax’s showmanship was unmatched that evening.

As the sun set, Motorhead took the main stage. Subtle yet effective, Lemmy is the epitome of cool. He doesn’t even have to try. He just is. Dirty, gritty and louder than a 747, Lemmy made it clear that night: “We are Motorhead, and we play rock and roll!” Who are any of us to disagree?

The power of Satan took over as soon as Slayer took the stage. As Scott Ian put it: “Slayer is the music you’re going to hear when you go to Hell.” They had their Marshall stacks set up to look like two upside down crosses –-with fire shooting out of them. They set a standard that night, making me feel sorry for whoever had to follow them.

Which brings us to Slipknot.

I’ve always respected Mick Thomson’s guitar work. The guy shreds, plain and simple. There’s also no denying Slipknot’s influence and ability to get the crowd moving. But headlining? Over bands that have paved the way for them? I don’t get it. There’s no accounting for taste, so take their music with a grain of salt. But they never fail to put on a good show, whether you like their music or not.

At concerts like this, it’s always a t-shirt contest. Who has the most obscure shirt from a band you’ve never heard of? Well, I guarantee I had a shirt no one was wearing: Mr. Bungle. Last year I wore an Eyesores shirt. So, I’m still the undisputed Mayhem t-shirt champion, two years running. 

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