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2014 ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK MAYHEM FESTIVAL Live In Houston, Texas With Photos!

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 @ 4:08 PM


Texas Show Puts The Wraps On 2014 Edition

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The 2014 editon of the annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival made it's way to The Woodlands, Texas just north of the Houston area for a stop at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (or The Woodlands Pavilion as it's more commonly known), an outdoor, amphitheater-style venue that holds around 17,000 people, the second straight year that the touring festival made the Bayou City it's final destination. As 'luck' would have it, that day would also turn out to be the hottest day of the summer thus far and boy, was it a scorcher! And we're not just talking about the bands here either.

One nice addition to this year's show was a second stage of acts to play, which may sound odd to some because all along the tour, most, if not all the stops got 3 stages for the festival, but not Houston. Last year's show only included the Main Stage acts, that's it. So, while we didn't get all 3 stages this year, at least we got more than just the Main Stage acts though I wasn't 100% sure where this second stage would be positioned. That question was answered upon arrival at the venue, where I could see that the Coldcock Herbal Whiskey Stage was set up in an adjacent parking lot next to the VIP parking garage.

The gates opened at 1:00 pm and by then the sweating had already started. If you've ever been to Houston in the middle of the summer you know full well that it really isn't the heat that gets you, it's the humidity, and on a day when the normal temperature flirted with the century mark, the humidity level of 70-80% certainly made it feel more like a sauna, with heat indices approaching 110. Hydration was the key to surviving the mass mayhem that was about to unfold.

The first band to hit the stage on this day was relative newcomers ISLANDER, a 'nu metal' band from South Carolina. This was somewhat of a surprise because the schedule that was posted online and printed all over the little brochures available at the show listed the first band as TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION. As it turned out, ISLANDER took the place of UPON A BURNING BODY, who were set to play a bit later that afternoon. This quartet did a fine job of kicking things off though they easily played to the smallest crowd of the day, probably due to the fact that the lines to get in were very long and I'm sure some of those didn't even get inside until this band was already on. At any rate, ISLANDER played a great set and definitely set the tone for the afternoon with their hardcore performance.

Next up was what was originally scheduled to be the opening act, Texas' own TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION, a metal act out of Denton in North Texas. This band has been making the rounds at all the festivals so far this summer it seems and they certainly know how to bring it live. Having missed their performance at Rocklahoma a couple of months ago, I was eager to see their set. I was most impressed. Texas-sized frontman Richard "Big Dad Ritch" Anderson is one imposing mofo, slightly reminiscent of Porky from the infamous Porky's movies, but definitely a perfect fit for this Southern beer drinking, pot smoking, hell raising band of heavy metal brothers. Throughout most of their set he held onto a Texas flag, much to the delight of those watching. As with most of the bands on the second stage their set was brief, but enjoyable and included the tracks "Hands Up", "Turn It Up" and "Pissed Off And Mad About It".

By now the crowd had grown considerably in this parking lot, making it increasingly more difficult for us photographers to make our way up to the front to get inside the barricade, and in this instance we just made it in time for the start of the next act, MUSHROOMHEAD. Though I had not yet seen this band before, others had given me the heads up about them and what to expect as far as a show goes, with a couple of their shows already making our Reviews list on KNAC.COM. The band has a new album out, The Righteous & The Butterfly, all new stage masks and came to Houston to take no prisoners. The band got the mayhem going with "Our Apologies", though they were certainly not offering any when it came to their intensity. Though they only had a 25 minute set it seemed like an eternity as they thrashed the crowd sonically with tracks like "We Are The Truth" (UNSAID FATE vocalist Jackie Laponza joined them for this), "Solitaire/Unraveling" and "Empty Spaces/Born Of Desire". Early on in the set vocalist J Mann remarked how even though it was called Mayhem Festival, the whole tour he had "yet to see any fucking mayhem!". That's all it took for the crowd to go insane. Within short order bodies were crowd surfing and flying everywhere and the barricade security certainly had their work cut out for them. I watched from outside the fenced area by the first aid tent as people were helped over to get some relief and recover.

In between each of these sets I would make my way to the air conditioning of the House Of Blues Hospitality tent but by the time MUSHROOMHEAD had finished the tent was so full that there was a line of people waiting to get in and as people would leave security would then let that same number of people in, so instead of subjecting myself to that torture I instead opted to take a breather at the photographer check-in station which is thankfully surrounded by a bunch of trees and stayed quite a bit cooler throughout the day.

Next up was East Coast metalcore act EMMURE. I only caught enough of their set to satisfy my photo requirement, but these guys simply picked up where the prior bands had left off. The crowd size continued to swell and it appeared at times as though the chainlink fencing surrounding this area would burst wide open, but held fast throughout. If you were one of those in attendence that is into the whole metalcore scene, then you were right at home with the majority of acts on this second stage.

Following EMMURE was another up and coming metalcore act, MISS MAY I, touring on the strength of their latest album, Rise Of The Lion. They got the hot afternoon started with "Refuse To Believe" off of the new album and proceeded to kick serious ass, following it up with "Relentless Chaos" off of the Monument album of 2010. The hot and sweaty crowd was eating this band's set up when, during their third number, "Day By Day", vocalist Levi Benton came on the mic and stated that there was some severe weather with frequent lightning noving into the area and that all the concertgoers should seek cover. He promised that once the threat passed the band would be back and pick up right where they left off and that they should be back "in 15-20 minutes hopefully". Having already headed back toward the photographers check in area, I checked the local radar. The storms in question were 10-15 mile to our west and weren't even moving our direction. I guess the event organizers were just playing it ultra safe considering how many people were positioned in front of that stage. However, the 15-20 minute delay ended up being 45 minutes and by the time things got cranked up again, there was now a very real possibility that there would be an overlap between the CANNIBAL CORPSE set on the second stage and TRIVIUM's set on the Main Stage.

But as promised, MISS MAY I did return and pick up with their set, finishing things off with "Gone", "Hero With No Name", "You Want Me" and "Hey Mister". Now, the stage crew was trying to play catch up, attempting to squeeze out every second of changeover time they could as to not be too far behind schedule (even though they already were), and they nearly succeeded in getting it done in like 10 minutes but a snag with the drums led to a delay. Finally, Southern California deathcore veterans SUICIDE SILENCE, led by new vocalist Eddie Hermida, got their opportunity to pummel the crowd in to submission, a feat that didn't take much effort as they launched into "Unanswered", from the 2007 album The Cleansing. Hermida's face was already red from having to face the blistering sun and Texas humidity, but it went to a whole new shade as he belted out the vocals and screams. At times it appeared as if he was going to burst a blood vessel in his head but he handled it very admirably. The rest of the band, guitarists Chris Garza and Mark Heylmun, bassist Dan Kenny and drummer Alex Lopez were very tight and animated. The band was having a great time despite the brutal conditions, but then again, brutal conditions for a brutal band, right? The moshing and crowd surfing had hit a crescendo by this time and as i walked away from the photo pit area the chain link fencing bordering the first aid station side of the stage area looked as if it could collapse at any moment, and in fact did exactly that just momenst after I cleared the area. What could have been a serious disaster was brought under control in a very orderly fashion and noone was seriously injured. Some possible food for thought for future events.

Now of course is where the 'storm' delay came into play. My preference was to shoot the Main Stage acts and so, difficult as it was, the choice was made to shoot TRIVIUM instead of CANNIBAL CORPSE. Vocalist Matt Heafy and company came on the Main Stage at 6:25, a time when the sun was positioned perfectly in the setting sky between the reserved seating canopy cover and the top of the general admission lawn, offering TRIVIUM an unobscured (and probably unwanted) view of blazing direct sunlight. The band was equally as hot, playing a killer set kicked off with 2 tracks from 2011's In Waves album, "Black" and "Built To Fall". Heafy showed absolutely no signs of any ill effects from his recent blown voice a couple of months ago as he sounded spot on during the rest of the set of tracks including "Through Blood And Dirt And Bone", "Strife", "Dying In Your Arms" and closer "In Waves".

Next up on the Main Stage was another rising star group, UK metalcore rockers ASKING ALEXANDRIA. With a 5-6 foot drum riser and two large, lightable "A"'s, one on either side, the band was determined to take no prisoners. Singer Danny Worsnop lead the charge out of the gate with "Don't Pray For Me" and "Run Free", both from last year's release, From Death To Destiny", before dipping back to 2011's Reckless & Relentless for "To The Stage" and then further back to 2009 for "The Final Episode", from Stand Up And Scream. The group finished their performance by going back to the most recent release for a trio of tracks, "Moving On", "Killing You" and set closer, "The Death Of Me", which certainly could have been a big 'fuck you' jab at the day's heat.

Second billing for this event came in the form of KORN, another band that hails from California and had just recently celebrated their 20th anniversary and released a brand new album, Paradigm Shift, in October of last year, the first to feature guitarist Brian "Head" Welch in 10 years. Admittedly, I was never a fan of KORN though my son, who is now 25 loved these guys back in the day. To say that their set was a surprise is a gross understatement. The entire place was packed by this time, front to back, and if I didn't know any better, it was KORN they were there to see. The band came out guns (or guitars if you prefer) blazing to "Falling Away From Me", from the album Issues, and never looked back. This was followed by "Twist", "Got The Life" and "Did My Time". It was right around this time that frontman Jonathan Davis brought out the bagpipes. You read that right, bagpipes, and the place fucking erupted! The crowd was absolutely deafening throughout most of their set, but kicked it up a few more decibels during this time. "Spike In My Veins" came next and the band continued to roll to their conclusion with a few other familiar songs, "Coming Undone" and "Freak On A Leash". KORN closed out their night with "Blind", from 1994's The Vinyl Classics. A fantastic performance start to finish!

Setlist:

  • "Falling Away From Me"
  • "Twist"
  • "Got The Life"
  • "Did My Time"
  • "Spike In My Veins"
  • "Hater"
  • "Shoots And Ladders" (With "Somebody, Someone" clip following)
  • "Coming Undone"
  • "Here To Stay"
  • "Never Never"
  • "Freak On A Leash"
  • "Blind"
After KORN's set it appeared that about 10% of the crowd chose to call it a night, but those that stayed were in for another real treat, a set by headliners AVENGED SEVENFOLD! I was fortunate enough to cath A7X last September while the group was out on their headlining Hail To The King tour with DEFTONES and GHOST and though I had never really listened to these guys, their concert left me in awe. It was definitely one of the best concerts I had ever seen, both from a stage production standpoint and the content of their setlist. This was the band I wanted to see. And once again, there was no disappointment! To a sea of flames the band was on fire as they launched their set with "Shepherd Of Fire", appropriately enough, then kicked it into another gear with "Nightmare", "Bat Country" and "Hail To The King", from the album of the same name. Despite many reviews that mention the overall nonchalant attitude of guitarists Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates (who came up with these names?), I found the dual axe slingers to be quite into this performance and not the usual bored look so often mentioned in other reviews. Vocalist M Shadows was very animated, constantly moving around, so much that it was difficult at times to get a few good photos taken!. The band continued on a roll, playing the hits like "Buried Alive", "This Means War" and "Afterlife". The stage production was nearly identical to their prior performance here with plenty of fire, pyro and video screen images flashed in the palace windows, with the only real difference being a setlist that was just a tad shorter than last time. Unholy Confessions closed out not only the evening's events but also the 2014 Mayhem Festival as a whole.

Setlist:

  • "Shepherd Of Fire"
  • "Nightmare"
  • "Bat Country"
  • "Hail To The King"
  • "Almost Easy"
  • "Buried Alive"
  • "So Far Away"
  • "Afterlife"
  • "This Means War"
  • "A Little Piece Of Heaven"
  • "Unholy Confessions"
Congrats and hats off to everyone involved who made this years Mayhem Festival what it was. From the makeshift 'Boardwalk' area with all of the vendors, bands and record label booths to the Adrenaline PR folks who do a phenomenal job of selling this thing to the masses, to the bands themselves, who come out and do this every day for weeks, sometimes during the most brutal of conditions. Looking forward to next year's version!

Check out the photo gallery from the show right HERE.


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