After a year off, we finally made it back to Atlanta, GA for the Mayhem Festival at Aaron’s Amphitheatre. I was ecstatic when I saw this year’s lineup, which included the return of Slayer and Slipknot to the tour. To top it off, the heat wave was letting up for the weekend.
Uncrowned kicked the day off, and they were a great choice for the opening band. Even though there were only a couple of hundred people there for the opener, they played like there were thousands. If you haven’t heard of these guys before, or seen them live, they are definitely worth checking out.
Betraying the Martyrs were next up on stage. By the time they were up, the crowd grew substantially, and it was time for the crowd to see what a band from France can do. While the entire band kicked some serious ass, the highlight of the performance was lead singer Aaron Matts’s stage show. He was all over the stage, and entertaining as hell to watch. He energized the crowd with his antics, and as the crowd went wild, he just gave him even more energy. Victor’s (their other singer) voice was the counterbalanced to Aaron’s brutal sound. Their vocal sounds were as different as Chad Grey’s is to Amy Lee’s, and it worked great. Their sound and performance skyrocketed past the expectations I had for the band. In one set, I went from someone who didn’t know who the band was to a fan of the band.
Whitechapel took the stage next, and they owned the crowd. Their lead singer said jump, and the crowd jumped. He said mosh, and the crowd moshed. He said circle pit, and there was a circle pit. It didn’t matter that it felt hot as hell, the crowd did what the band wanted. Once they got into full swing, the crowd surfers began pouring in.
Asking Alexandria was next up. I’ve listened to some of their music, but that did not get me ready for them on stage. They took the energy and excitement that Whitechapel and Betraying the Martyrs had built up in the fans, and then took it to the next level. There really isn’t much else to say about the band other than this is a must see on any tour if you are into the heavier stuff.
After Asking Alexandria’s amazing performance, it was time for Devil Wears Prada to take the stage, and they fell flat on their face. Their music was decent enough, but their stage show just didn’t live up to the bands before it. This isn’t to say that they are a bad band, it was hot as hell by the time they took the stage and they may have just been off their game.
The last band for the Jäger stage is one of the best bands from the 80’s, Anthrax. They took the stage, and shows that even after 30 years they still know how to rock the stage. They opened it up with the perfect song for Mayhem Fest, Caught in a Mosh. They were energetic, they energized the crowd, and they sounded better than I expected. They continued rocking the stage with Got the Time, Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t, and some of their other great songs, and then they finished off their set, and the Jäger stage with I Am the Law. This was my first and hopefully not last time to see them live. I think they definitely should have been a main stage band this year.
Between some of the Jäger sets, DJ Starscream (aka Zero, aka Sid Wilson) rocked the turntables for the crowd while the Metal Mulisha entertained us with their jumps. It kept us all energized when waiting for the next bands to get ready, and Sid prepped for his Slipknot performance by diving off the sound tower into the crowd below.
As I Lay Dying kicked off the main stage with Condemned. I couldn’t have picked a better band off of this tour to kick off the main stage than this band. Everything about them, from their sound to their stage performance was great. As a bonus, I got to see my favorite As I Lay Dying song performed, Anodyne Sea. They ended their set with another of my favorites, The Sound of Truth.
The next band up was another of the all-time greats, Motörhead. Unfortunately, like with The Devil Wears Prada, their show left a lot to be desired. Lemmy sounded great, and Phil and Mikkey Dee both played their instruments as good as ever, but their stage show wasn’t good at all. You don’t need pyro, or lights to have a good stage show, but you do need energy and you do need to work the crowd. This is something they just didn’t have. Despite the lack of a stage performance, I can say that I did enjoy their set list which included a ton of their good stuff including Bomber, Damage Case, Overkill, and of course, Ace of Spades.
After Motörhead’s performance, it was time to get ready for another of the big four, Slayer. It had been a few years since I had last seen them and I was ready to get another dose of their show. While Motörhead’s show sounded great, but had no energy, Slayer came on stage and rocked us all. They sounded amazing and they had energy to spare. On top of all of that, they threw in pyro and lights. I couldn’t think of anything else Slayer could have done to make their show better. They had a nice long set and played most of my favorites like Disciple, Jesus Saves, Hell Awaits, Angel of Death, and Raining Blood.
After Slayer rocked the house, there were a few flashes of lightening behind Aaron’s Amphitheater and I was worried that a sudden storm may soak the thousands of fans that were awaiting the final band of the night, but that did not happen. I knew any band following their show was going to have to kick some serious ass to not be shown up, but luckily for everyone there, the next band up would be able to do it.