TVD Live Shots: Mayhem Festival at Jiffy Lube Live, 7/24

The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival made its annual stop in Bristow, VA, last week for the sixth year in a row. Live Nation venues around the country host almost every stop on the Mayhem tour, and last Wednesday, it was Jiffy Lube Live’s turn to welcome metal fans from DC and the surrounding region. The venue, which is the largest capacity amphitheater in the DC area, was transformed for a day into a land of hard-rocking metal and misadventure.

The amphitheater itself served as the main stage for this event and certainly housed the most elaborate stage setups. Amon Amarth played on and around a life-sized Viking Warship complete with Celtic markings, while Rob Zombie sported various toys and evil creatures is his bag of tricks; most notable were a giant dancing robot, a ghoulish zombie skull reaper apparition, a zombified boom box tower, and this incredible half-dinosaur-half-war-tank metal machine.

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The Mayhem tour set up three different stages to host the onslaught of metal bands throughout the day. In fact, the stage setup at this particular event was one of the most impressive and certainly the most efficient setup I have seen from any all-day music event. The smallest of the three, the Sumerian Stage was set along the main walkway of the Pavilion grounds. This stage had a reach-out-and-touch kind of feel to it. Many fans stood at the barricade talking to artists before and after their sets. Because of its location, The Sumerian Stage actually seemed a little camouflaged amongst a line of vendor tents and mixed right in with various booths that sold anything from snacks to body jewelry to full-blown Slip-Knot-style face masks.

The two larger stages on the grounds were The Jagermeister Stage and The Musicians Institute Stage. These stages were set up up side-by-side on one of the most spacious parts of the Pavilion grounds. Large crowds gathered in front of both stages to form one immense crowd. The coolest thing about this was that the minute one band stopped playing, the next band was ready to go on the adjacent stage. This allowed for almost no down time and helped the crowd from having to walk from one stage to another like most outdoor festivals.

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While the afternoon gave way for the tour’s supporting acts to fill the hot venue grounds with their musical offerings, bands such as Machine Head, Bucher Babies, Huntress, Job for a Cowboy, and the Finnish metal band Children of Bodom, the nighttime is when things got a little bigger and a lot louder. Amon Amarth screamed convincingly enough to prove to me that they are true Viking warriors, while Mastodon and Five Finger Death Punch offered a more melodic approach to the metal barrage of sound.

Rob Zombie, who carries the weight of being this year’s headliner, always delivers an over-the-top experience and is truly a great performer. His set is filled with all things macabre. There was a constant stream of old horror and sci-fi movie clips playing on the video boards behind him, and he brought enough pyrotechnics, fire, and smoke to live up to the tour’s name, “Mayhem.”

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Rob Zombie played a little bit from everything in his musical arsenal. The highlights include “More Human than Human,” “Thunder Kiss ’65,” “Living Dead Girl,” and “Superbeast.”

I have to admit that as good as his performance was at the festival, I was actually a little confused as to why Rob Zombie—who I love as a musician, as a director, and as horror aficionado—would throw “We’re an American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad into the awesomeness of his horrified set. I admit I do not follow the metal genre as much as I did a few years ago, but I’m still trying to make sense of this one. Nevertheless, Rob Zombie is metal and rock legend, and deservingly so. The crowd sang out loud and hung on every word he sang.

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