The temperature outside was 90 degrees (with 80 percent humidity) on Wednesday at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey, but the heat didn’t stop more than 15,000 fans from coming out to support some of the biggest names in heavy metal music. And just the event name alone — the Rockstar Mayhem Festival — pretty much summed up the Jersey tour stop.
Opening act His Name Was Yesterday set the energy level at “high” early in the afternoon, before the festival launched into the more melodic side of the lineup, featuring the likes of 3 Inches of Blood and newcomers In This Moment, a band fronted by a female (not a common sight in metal), who jumped over to the soundboard and had the circle pit go around her. Soon enough, the event turned into a bass-heavy, ear-pounding powerhouse as metalcore giants Norma Jean and Chimaira played the loudest sets of the day.
Fans were stunned when Shadows Fall played a remarkable cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s cult classic “Bark at the Moon.” Atreyu followed with a cover of their own, performing their now-standard rendition of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.”
By closing time of the second stages, concertgoer injuries seemed to be at an all-time high. Hatebreed, known for having enormous mosh pits during their shows, played a set that sent at least two attendees to the hospital with badly injured legs. But that’s what happens when Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe comes onstage out of nowhere and orders hundreds of fans to engage in the “Wall of Death” — a warlike collision of people literally running into each other at full-force. Winds of Plague ended the second stage showing off their symphonic but heavy sound.
Sporting U.S. military uniforms, Five Finger Death Punch opened the main stage, and a wide range of metal influences was at the forefront of their performance. The Los Angeles metal group went back and forth from heavy and hard-hitting to melodic and operatic. Lamb of God finally scored their much-deserved spot as festival co-headliners and gave a blistering performance.
Veteran Rob Zombie’s set was plenty theatrical with giant zombies and horror film clips decorating the stage. While he played his own classics, including “More Human Than Human” and “Thunder Kiss ’65,” guitarist John 5 (formerly of Marilyn Manson) gave a rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s iconic Woodstock performance, playing the national anthem with his teeth and, inevitably, smashing his guitar to pieces.
As the Mayhem came to a close, Korn’s set was outstanding enough even without their original drummer David Silveria and guitarist Brian “Head” Welch. They brought fans back to the golden age of nu-metal with classics like “Freak on a Leash” and “Falling Away From Me.”
With the Mayhem Festival in its third consecutive year, organizers seem to be proving they have no intention of taking a hiatus from the heavy metal summer tour.
Were you at the Mayhem Festival? Share your own in reviews in the comments!