Mayhem Festival Comes to Darien Lake, New York

The Rockstar Mayhem Festival always brings the biggest names in metal music to the masses. This year at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Western, NY everyone was fully prepared for the event. Mayhem Festival is one of those festivals that I try to attend every year because the atmosphere is meant for all the misfits. The fan base represented, elderly couples in band shirts to a five-year old on her dad’s shoulders rocking out to music.

Photo by: Stephanie Schiffmacher

A lot of excellent, head banging bands filled the stages of Mayhem Festival; but the stage that caught a lot of attention was the Coldcock American Herbal Whiskey Stage. The two bands that I personally thought stood out the most were Mushroomhead and Miss May I. Mushroomhead fans waited and cheered when their stage was being set up. Without having any idea of what to expect, the band came out wearing gory masks and the sound they made was a mixture of metal, industrial and even a bit of rap influenced. Fans looked intrigued. Water covered the drums on stage and as the drumsticks hit each drum, water flew in the air to each beat. The vibe they gave on stage was rather ‘Slipknot’ like and I later found out that Slipknot and Mushroomhead fans had a feud for years about who copied the whole mask look;  regardless of the masks the band put on an energetic, horror metal show.

A much younger crowd approached the stage as Miss May I was announced, as soon as the band took the stage I thought “Oh great. Here we go another screaming band.” But something about them was different from any other metal core band. They interacted very much with the crowd and their songs were catchy, yet meaningful. The lead singer, Levi Benton had very deep growls and screams but when he talked to the crowd his voice was very soft and sweet. He asked the crowd if anyone is currently in the military and many cheered and Benton announced to the crowd to buy them a drink. He dedicated a song called “Hero With No Name” to the troops from their new album Rise Of The Lion. The band ended their set with Benton going into the crowd to be closer with fans and said that he will be at their merchandise tent after the show to talk and take pictures with fans. Within minutes after the band left the stage, fans rushed to the tent and Benton was more than happy to greet fans. I even walked out of their tent area with a signed CD because I was so impressed by their performance and their dedication to fans.

Finally, the moment that everyone was waiting for. Security was allowing people to find their seats for the main acts of the evening. I was thrilled to see KoRn and Avenged Sevenfold but I waited anxiously in my seat as two other bands were set to perform before the headliners. Trivium was the first band to take the stage and they brought everything they had. The band got the crowd going with frontman, Matt Heafy telling everyone to stand up and that Canada was the best show they had the other night. If you are from New York that would make anyone stand up and scream louder. Trivium played a total of seven songs including their singles ‘Through Blood and Dirt and Bone’ and ‘In Waves’. Even after the band left the stage, the crowd wanted more and so did I.

I was already pumped with adrenaline after watching Trivium take the stage and I watched as the crew was setting up for the next act, Asking Alexandria. Two huge light up A’s were put up as red curtains also drapped the stage. The excitement level of the crowd was rising as the lead singer made his way on stage dressed in a white suit jacket with a scarf and jeans. Everyone stood up and cheered and the band went into their first song of the set, ‘Don’t Pray For Me’ their 2013 single from their album From Death To Destiny. I was not too impressed by the band’s performance as the singer Danny Worsnop casually walked around on stage and would go off on little rants about if the crowd did not like the band then they could drink more and forget about them. But to the fans that waited to see them, the band played all the songs that the crowd wanted to hear, ‘Moving on’ and ‘The Death of Me’. But other than that the band’s performance was nothing special.

Photo taken by Stephanie Schiffmacher

Finally, the performances everyone was waiting for. Korn unleashed the madness as they came out with a booming performance. . I was impressed at the professionalism of Jonathan Davis while the band opened up with ‘Falling Away From Me’ and Davis’s microphone was not working and he continued to sing and did not cause a scene until he received a new microphone and went straight into the chorus. Reginald Arvizu hypnotized the crowd with his neon green strings on his bass. After the band went into a few more of their hits. Davis brought out his bag pipes and the crowd roared with excitement as the band went into ‘Shoots and Ladders’. They also ended the show with ‘Coming Undone’, ‘Here To Stay’ and ‘Never Never’. But then the crowds favorite were played, ‘Freak On The Leash’ and ‘Blind’ and then as the band ended the show, they brought out their kids on stage and the kids head banged and threw guitar picks to the audience. Korn definitely will spread metal music to generations to come and they continued to show that the band still had the same level of passion that they had when they first came out in the music world.

photo taken by Stephanie Schiffmacher

As Korn left the stage, a black curtain dropped along the stage and the Avenged Sevenfold symbol was shown on the front. My excitement was building and I knew Avenged Sevenfold always put on a mind-blowing show after seeing them twice. The lights dimmed once more and the curtain raised as the stage showed a massive skeleton sitting in a throne with a crown, obviously dedicated to the band’s Hail To The King album. The audience erupted as flames came out from the stage and the band opened up with ‘Shepherds Of Fire.’ Lead singer, Matt Shadows took the time to say how the stage was not very personal with the fans and he asked security to bring fans on to the stage and he made a promise that the band would not throw fire at them. The right side of the stage filled with fans as they jumped and screamed to the songs while every once in a while Shadows and guitar player, Synyster Gates would give high fives to the fans that were lucky enough to come up on stage. Avenged Sevenfold played well-known songs like ‘Nightmare’, ‘Bat Country’, ‘Almost Easy’ and then the song ‘So Far Away.’ Shadows took the time explaining the meaning behind ‘So Far Away’. In 2009, the band’s long time drummer, Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan passed away. The song ‘ was dedicated to Sullivan and fans held up lighters and their phones during the song as a memorial for the drummer. The band left the stage after their song ‘This Means War’ but the fans wanted more. The fans banged their hands on the back of the seats and started chanting ‘A7X!’ and I doubt was part of that also. Moments later, the band came out for a two song encore with one of their first ever singles, ‘Unholy Confessions’ and then ended with the kinda disturbing song, ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven’ which Shadows describing the song as ‘A song about love, death and sex in the afterlife.’ It was a huge crowd pleasure and the song almost resembles a play with commentary throughout the song and a story to go along with it.

The crowd left the venue with sore necks, loss of voice and maybe a few bruises. But everyone could be seen with smiles on their faces and cheering. Korn and Avenged Sevenfold definitely brought back how metal and rock music should be and pleased every metal head in upstate New York.

Also check out our coverage of the Saratoga Springs Mayhem Festival here.