Rockstar Mayhem Festival was a headbanger’s ball
This year’s line up consisted of 18 bands that held high classic killers like Cannibal Corpse, Mushroomhead, and Korn, as well as leading-edge groups like Avenged Sevenfold, Asking Alexandria, and Trivium headlining (which only a minutia of media outlets were permitted to photograph, unfortunately.)
The event started in the early afternoon, around 1 p.m. As the double kick drums began to echo out from the built pavilions of Ontario Place, the lineup of grungers and metal heads began to trickle up around the bridge to get up there.
A sea of long hair, piercings and tattoos, and black band tees filled the parking lot and all the single file will call gates in anticipation. As usual at these events there’s a nice balance of miscommunication and chaos, and this was no exception.The flooded gates caused delays in getting in to the festival, and a misguided organizational choice left a large group of media, photographers, and guestlist attendees left waiting in the hot sun only listening to the event they were meant to be experiencing.
Martyr was on a tight schedule, we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to sit down on camera (video interviews to come) with not one, but three of the bands touring the festival, one of them a headlining band.
After waiting in the sun for over an hour, we took refuge in the shade of the Rockstar VIP tent. This is where we met ‘Britt,’ a long time Mayhem Festival “family member.”
As we were almost late for our first interview of the day, with none other than Suicide Silence, we explained our urgent situation to Britt, she then radioed Crystal who confirmed our interview, Britt then ushered us back to the press tent, where we sat down with Eddie Hermida from Suicide Silence – thank god for ‘Britt and Crystal.’
After a tragic loss of Mitch Lucker on November 2012 the band took some time to reassess life and all thing Suicide Silence, after settling down with Nuclear Blast Records and Eddie Hermida of All Shall Perish, SS has released the much sought “You Can’t Stop Us” an all too fitting name for the journey of this band.
“Mitch is so tenacious, he wont allow you to forget him,” said Hermida “He leaves behind lyrics that are in the title of the record. He will be with us for a long long time.”
“I want to see absolute mayhem and craziness in that pit.” And that was exactly what he asked for on stage when they were tearing it up later on in the day. “I want to see just how metal this crowd really is start a circle now, not big enough make it bigger!”
After a great chat from Hermida, I’m out the gates and in to the festival grounds to check out this year’s set up. Every year Mayhem fest brings a huge line up of heavy, loud and in your face bands.
Beer booths and gardens littered along the concrete path to the centre area where 2 stages were built, amps towered up like the skyscrapers of Toronto.
The Rockstar tent was doling out delicious refreshments as the mosh pits got bigger and bigger. Luckily for all the headbangers this years fest was blessed by the presence of a massage booth with a pay as you go rate, so those sore necks could be nursed before heading back out.There was of course official Mayhem merch tents, as well as individual tents for all of the bands. I spent a lot of time around here, and met a lot of the band members who were coming to greet all their eager supporting fans.
The Darkest Hour was on stage tearing it up, and from the corner of my eye I could see Mushroomhead gearing up the next stage over.As the band played their final song, and the pit swirled I saw a very gradual shift in people from one stage to the next, and then Skinny came on stage.
If you’ve never seen Mushroomhead perform live, it’s definitely something you want to take in someday – if you’re an eclectic metal fan that is. The band wears masks that they create themselves and they put 150% into their performance. With water bouncing off the drums, flailing dreads, squeals and an outlandish stage presence you will not forget a performance as wild as this one.After their set, the guys from Mushroomhead went back to their merchandise tent, where they signed shirts, and took photos with a long lineup of hungry fans. Meeting with Skinny from Mushroomhead was a real honour.
We had a sincere chat about the evolution of music and the loss of their dear friend JJ Righteous. Getting down to brass tax about their eighth studio album the Righteous and the Butterfly right after. He informed us that it was a very personal and emotionally based title, directly linked to the passing of their bandmate, and very close friend.
“Our evolution stems from the fact that we just keep doing it,” said Skinny. “We are a bunch of artists, not rockstars. The alternative for us, if we weren’t making music, would be death – or jail from most if not all of us.”
Right after Mushroomhead destroyed the place, Chicago outfit Veil of Maya came out, another sight to see at this festival. If you’ve never heard their unique, technical, and almost mathematical metal breakdowns, you need to expand your metal repertoire.
By this time in the day, Suicide Silence was wrapping up their set and the festival grounds began to see the masses migrating in and towards the ampitheatre, just as Cannibal Corpse were winding down their set; so too were the merchandise tents and festival side stages.
Hardcore thrashers Body Count were headlining the Sumerian stage. Body Count, along with none other than Ice T brought down the walls, and part way through the set he gave us a little insight into crossing the border.
“It took us five hours to make it through the almost impenetrable invisible barrier better known as the Canadian border crossing,” he said onstage.
A few songs later, he came back to the Canadian references but in another context, leading into their next song.
“You guys are lucky to live in Canada, you don’t really have to live with police brutality…” “I may have friends who are in law enforcement, and I may play a cop on TV… But I still wrote, and perform this next song.” Then busted into their anthemic protest song “Cop Killer.”Trivium and Asking Alexandria banded together and gave a warm welcome for long time nu metal aficionados Korn – they’re back.
Prior to the show we had a chance to sit down and talk with Ray and Munkey from Korn about their new album The Paradigm Shift and it’s live counterpart, and the return of course, of Head.
“For me personally, I had some real trials without Brian (Head) there,” explained Munkey. “I also had some accomplishments, it was a real struggle. It was alot of work. It feels great having his energy back in the room.” And it’s even better to have him back on stage as we witnessed.
Korn’s set opened with “Falling Away From Me,” and closed with as Johnathan describes it the song that started it all, “Blind.”
Bringing Head back to the stage they played an incredible set that included new songs like “Never Never,” and favourites like “Freak on a Leash.”
Halfway through Korn’s set, Jonathan said “Oh my goodness Toronto, look at y’all you crazy, sexy motherfuckers,” then he paused and exclaimed “Damn y’all!” Hey listen I’ve got a question to ask y’all. Let’s see how you answer this shit Toronto. Are you ready to get this motherfucking party started? I think y’all misunderstood what the fuck I was saying!” and then repeats the question.
Then of course everyone just went crazy.
Big black curtains engulfed the stage emblazoned with a skeleton. The amphitheatre lighting dimmed and then you hear a rumbling, the curtains open to display a huge 20 foot tall skeleton on a throne bathed in red light flames erupt. Avenged Sevenfold took the stage to bring the night to a close.
It was beautiful, powerful, and fucking pure unadulterated metal – Mayhem at it’s finest.
Story by Madysun Ball, Photos by ftfphotography.