Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Maryland Heights, MO

Words and pictures by Duane Clawson

After taking a break for a year, Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest 2014 returned to give the St. Louis festival scene a much needed kick in the ass!  If headbanging and hair whipping for ten hours is your thing, then this festival was the spot to be on a Wednesday afternoon.  The 70-degree July weather also made attending this festival a bearable option.  This was my first visit to the Mayhem Festival and it was an experience I highly recommend.  As with any festival, Mayhem was not without its share of hits and misses; but the solid performers far exceeded the bad.  The afternoon consisted of bands playing on three stage:  Coldcock Herbal Whiskey, Headband for the Highway/Sumerian, Victory Records all provided the sponsorship needed to make these stages possible. The only snag I could find with the three-stage setup was the occasional overlapping of bands.  But Mayhem did a great job in scheduling so that most in attendance could see part of one band’s set before the next act began.

Beginning my afternoon of festival coverage was the San Antonio Texas band, Upon A Burning Body.  Lead singer Danny Leal is the main focus of this band’s lineup.  As he moves about the stage, he brings ferocious vocals to a feast of deathcore metal.  After photographing their set, I was walking away from the stage and found myself thinking they sound like another band from Texas, but who? Ah, that’s it, Pantera!

The next few hours would find me moving between the two bigger side stages and seeing bands such as Islander, Wretched, Emmure, Miss May I, and Suicide Silence.

One thing I always try to do is attend shows and do reviews of at least one band I am a fan of.  And Mayhem Fest provided that experience with the band, Texas Hippie Coalition. THC, as they like to refer to themselves, certainly do metal well but with a twist that forcefully grabs your attention.  Larger than life lead singer, Big Dad Ritch, commands your attention with his Texas growl and a look that suggests he may have the potential to beat you to death with a pool cue.  The band can and did rattle your back teeth loose with their unique brand of Red Dirt Metal.  A must see at Meyhem Fest!

Most festivals I’ve attended give me the opportunity to experience something new and enjoy some music I would not normally listen to.  Today, Mushroomhead delivered that experience.  Melodic, “art metal” is Mushroomhead’s forte', complete with masks and costumes.  Mushroomhead’s set begins with two floor drums placed at both sides of the stage and two band members pounding said drums, which are filled with water, producing a rooster tail that sprays anyone within a 25-foot radius.  As with THC, Mushroomhead brought a welcomed uniqueness to the afternoon’s festivities.

Other new discoveries of the afternoon were Ill Nino, a metal band with a splash of Latino flair.  Their new album, Til Death, La Familia is a must have in any metal collection.  And on a side note, Ill Nino provided some of the best hair whips of the afternoon.

Alright, on to the main event:  Body Count with Ice-T!   Body Count with Ice-T was all one could expect and more.  After a long hiatus Ice-T and company were back with a vengeance.  Wasting no time in reacquainting themselves with St. Louis, Body Count opened their set with, “There Goes the Neighborhood”.  Ice-T reinforces the fact that his musical abilities are still intact as he tears through a couple of classics from the band's 1992, self-titled album, Body Count.  The band also included a couple of gems from the new album, Manslaughter.  Mayhem Fest, I thank you for including these veterans of the stage in your 2014 edition!

My afternoon concluded with coverage of death metal veterans, Cannibal Corpse.  Sonically, Cannibal Corpse was spot on but somehow the feel of the set lacked something that I really can’t define.  Maybe the audience was just plain worn out from the excessive amounts of headbanging that made this festival a real treat to cover!  Photos of the festival are below:

Upon a Burning Body
 Texas Hippie Coalition
 Ill Nino
Miss May I

Suicide Silence
Cannibal Corpse
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Maryland Heights, MO Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Maryland Heights, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on July 29, 2014 Rating: 5
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