I just went to the Mayhem Festival in Phoenix. This is a metal concert tour making its way around the US right now with Korn, Rob Zombie, Lamb of God, and Five Finger Death Punch on the main stage, and Atreyu, Hatebreed, Chimaira, Shadows Fall, In This Moment, Winds of Plague, 3 Inches of Blood, and Norma Jean on secondary stages. With all the fees our seats at Cricket Pavillion (which I hate) were $75. When I first found out about this 9-hour outdoor concert, I was seriously annoyed that someone had determined it would be a good idea to do this on what would probably be one of the hottest days of the year in Phoenix. Sure enough, it was forecasted to be 116°F, thought it could have been 150° as far as I could tell. It floors me that year after year, big ass concerts are scheduled for the hottest time of the year in one of the hottest cities in the country. It seemed like every band we saw felt the need to mention the heat and tell us how awesome we are for coming and dealing with it. Some insisted we congratulate ourselves. I can’t seriously clap for myself.
I missed Winds of Plague, though I would’ve liked to have seen them. As expected, 3 Inches of Blood was obnoxious with their painfully high-pitched vocals. In This Moment was pretty cool, except that their pretty blonde girl singer doesn’t seem too terribly talented. Shadows Fall and Chimaira were solid, though neither played my favorite song of theirs. Shadows fall covered Ozzy’s “Bark at the Moon”, which was pretty cool. I don’t like Atreyu, and didn’t pay much attention when they were playing. Hatebreed was fucking awesome. Their pit was insane. I don’t know if Norma Jean played at all. I think they got bumped for time.
Five Finger Death Punch was first on the main stage. I became an instant fan when I first heard their first album, The Way of the Fist. However, I wasn’t too terribly happy with the tracks that were later added to that album nor with their follow-up album, War is the Answer. This was the third time I’d seen them, and the most disappointing by far. Previously, I’d seem them play “White Knuckles“, their best song ever, with a great deal of audience participation. It was like their theme song. This time they skipped it. The only notable song they played from their first album was “The Bleeding”. Of course, they played their cover of “Bad Company” (by Bad Company), which has been getting plenty of radio play around these parts. The crowd loved it. I was annoyed.
Lamb of God was great. They are the reason I went to the show. They were awesome, and I wished their set could’ve been longer. They didn’t play all my favorite songs of theirs, but they did play “Walk with Me In Hell“, “Redneck“, and “Laid to Rest“. Randy Blythe is an amazing vocalist. My only complaint would be that the timing of the pinch harmonics in Laid to Rest wasn’t quite right, but I’m one the few who notice and care about shit like that. These guys are just amazing live. I hope they return soon to play a GA venue.
Then, it got dark and Rob Zombie came out. I think I can safely say he had the most elaborate stage I’ve ever seen. At one point there was a guy in a 10-foot robot suit dancing with Rob. It was rather surreal. There were tons of video screens showing crazy shit, lots of dudes in costumes, lots of props, and a lot of fire. It was pretty fucking cool. The downside was that Rob Zombie can’t sing like he used to. I’m not just talking about pitch or tone, but during the older songs he skipped a lot of lyrics catching his breath. The older the songs were, the more noticeable this was. I recall him playing just two White Zombie songs: “More Human than Human” and “Thuderkiss ’65”. I’m torn on whether he should just stick to making movies or maybe work on his lung capacity. I suppose it was worthwhile. I did enjoy the show.
Korn came on last. Their set was elaborate, but not quite as crazy as Rob’s. They had two 20-30 foot flaming oil derricks and two life-size oil pumps. I was a huge Korn fan through their first three or four albums, but at this show they started off only playing songs from later albums. They started going back in time a bit right when my friends decided to leave to beat traffic. I started to head out after they played “Blind”, only to hear the bagpipes begin for Shoots and Ladders, the very first Korn song I ever heard. I was happy enough with what I’d seen. If you didn’t know, Korn is down to 3/5 of their original members. They now only credit one guitarist on their albums, but there was a second guitarist on stage. Jonathan Davis looks kind of old and silly in his Adidas track suit and dreadlocks. He’s balding and his face seemed to have a sort of fat-oldness to it. However, his vocals are tight. The whole band was tight, and I learned that I’m still a Korn fan.
A final note: I seriously hate the Cricket Pavillion, and I will do my best to never go there again. A 20 ounce bottled water was $4.50 and 24 ounce PBRs were an inhumane ELEVEN-FUCKING-DOLLARS. Although the real reason I hate this place is because it’s big, outside, hot, and full of seats. The floor under the seats slopes downward which makes my legs hurt if I stand for very long, and toward the end, you pretty much have to stand to see anything. I like general admission.