TVD Live: Mayhem Festival at Jiffy Lube Live, 7/29

On a scorching day that broke the 100 degree mark, hoards of metal fans descended upon Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA for this year’s annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.

As you entered the amphitheater grounds, a midway of vendors were lined up, hawking such wares as t-shirts, hats, body jewelry, Dimebag Darrell skateboard decks, and even cowboy hats made out of beer cases.

Taking a left turn into a huge fenced-off area of the parking lot brought you into the side stage area, with a smaller stage sponsored by Sumerian Records highlighting newer, lesser-known bands, and the bigger Jägermeister-sponsored side stage for the larger acts. Around the perimeter were tents set up for various record labels and other sponsors, and tents for each individual band, with plenty of autograph signings for the fans throughout the day.

Notable standouts of the Sumerian Records side stage were newcomers Upon A Burning Body. Decked out in dress clothes, this aggressive metalcore band made the most of the small stage and attracted a pretty decent sized crowd and subsequent pit. The Jägermeister stage featured bands like Whitechapel and The Devil Wears Prada. As I Lay Dying began their set with a bang, demanding a “wall of death” in the gravel mosh pit to start things off, and delivered a brutal set of old and newer material, much to the crowd’s approval.

Rounding out the side stage were metal veterans Anthrax. Having chosen to headline the side stage rather than open on the main stage, they charged from one song to the next with barely a pause, playing a plethora of older favorites like “Caught in a Mosh,” “Madhouse,” and “Antisocial,” along with “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t,” from 2011’s acclaimed Worship Music. Ending their set with the Judge Dredd anthem “I Am The Law,” the crowd filed its way toward the main pavilion, where openers Asking Alexandria had already begun their set (a timing issue that seemed to annoy many concertgoers).

As the sun began to lower towards the horizon, rock legends Motörhead took the stage to chants of “LEMMY! LEMMY!” paying homage to singer/bassist Lemmy Kilmister, legendary in his own right. Opening with their classic hit “Bomber” and playing fan favorites like Damage Case and Going To Brazil, they lived up to their motto “Everything Louder Than Everything Else,” their volume easily being the loudest of the day. When Lemmy asked the crowd if they wanted it louder, they enthusiastically roared their approval. Ending with their signature song “Ace of Spades” and their perennial show closer “Overkill,” Motörhead left the fans pleased and ready for what lay next.

After a not-so-brief set change, the lights went down, and hell on earth arrived  as Slayer took the stage. When I say hell, I mean it literally, with an iron Slayer logo hanging above the band that caught on fire, and two massive inverted crosses made of Marshall amps on either side of the stage that shot fire out of them, creating an evil, awe-inspiring metal inferno. The furious twin-guitar attack of Kerry King and touring guitarist Gary Holt (of Exodus) led the charge through a career-spanning set list of really old (“Die By the Sword,” “Hell Awaits”), old (“Mandatory Suicide,” “Seasons in the Abyss”), and newer (“Disciple,” “Hate Worldwide”). Closing their set with the ferocious “Angel of Death,” the crowd chanted for more until they returned to the stage, playing “South of Heaven,” and ended with their seminal classic, “Raining Blood.” The crowd was pleased, and I definitely feel that Slayer had the strongest set of the day.

To finish out the night, on their first full tour since the death of bassist Paul Gray in 2010, Iowa’s Slipknot opened with a flurry of guitars, masks, red jumpsuits, and frenetic energy. With eight members on stage, including two percussionists, a DJ, and a sampler/keyboardist flinging themselves around the stage like rag dolls, the center of attention was divided between animated lead vocalist Corey Taylor and percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan, the mastermind behind the band.

Clown’s drums and kegs (empty beer kegs that he beat on with sticks and a baseball bat) were mounted on a hydraulic lift that rotated as it went up and down, with him and other members climbing all over it during the set. Taylor’s voice was in fine form as he led the assault, and worth noting was former guitarist Donnie Steele playing Gray’s bass parts from behind the stage, with Paul Gray’s bass onstage representing their fallen comrade. As they blasted through songs like “Wait and Bleed,” “Sulfur,” “Psychosocial,” and “Duality,” the crowd was in a fervor and eager to welcome them back to the stage. Ending their encore with “People=Shit” and “Surfacing,” Slipknot definitely overcame a personal tragedy and found a musical rebirth with their performance on the Mayhem Festival tour.

Photos: Metal Chris, DCHeavyMetal.com

Anthrax

Motörhead

Slayer

Slipknot

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