The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, the biggest and best all-day metal festival in the nation, came to Comfort Dental Amphitheatre with one of the most solid lineups in years that sported veteran crushers Anthrax, Slayer, Motorhead, Slipknot and more.
Asking Alexandria, Devil Wears Prada, Whitechapel and a slew of younger bands rounded out the bill. Slayer and Slipknot were returning Mayhem performers and both bands came ready for battle. Devil Wears Prada opened the main stage, handling the intimidation of playing on the same stage as their heroes.
Next up, Slayer! were working with a replacement in the absence of flesh-eating-bateria level ill Jeff Hanneman. Longtime friend and original thrasher Gary Holt stepped in to blast the packed crowd in front of a stage setup that included two flame-spewing inverted crosses made up of Marshall amps. Guitarist Kerry King (seen above) was a furious blast of intricate screaming riffs; his hands a blur on the frets and not a single f*ck to give about rock star imagery or posturing. The man is pure metal.
To close the night, Slipknot’s headlining set began with a white curtain falling dramatically to reveal a nightmare carnival of flames, with a giant ouija board bearing the words "All hope is gone" looming large in the back. There was, of course, a notable absence of two essential characters from Slipknot’s lineup: bassist Paul Gray, who died unexpectedly in 2010, and guitarist Jim Root, who was sidelined with a burst appendix. Donnie Steele handled bass duties while Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso from As I Lay Dying handled guitar - all from backstage .
The Knot was in top form and with Sunday's airtight performance serving as a celebrated return from a three-year live absence, it's all smiles today in the world of a Slipknot fan.
David Burke (Special Contributor)