Set List Bonus: Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival At San Manuel Amphitheater
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By Jamie Harvey
San Bernardino, Calif.
June 29 marked my sixth time attending the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival over the past five years and my first time attending the traveling festival's kick-off date at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, Calif. The annual summer event has been the place to catch emerging, current and classic acts from all corners of the rock and metal world.
Nestled against a mountainous backdrop, the amphitheater set the stage for my loudest (I discovered I had lost a filter to my custom earplugs at the beginning of the day), biggest (the venue's capacity far exceeds other venues I've attended) and hottest (temperatures maxed out at around 110 degrees) Mayhem Festival experience yet.
I arrived at 1 p.m. as the doors opened and metalheads descended upon the field, flooding the stages and vendor booths. As witchy metal band Huntress took the stage, things started to look like a scene from "The Walking Dead" as the hot sun was already taking its toll on the crowd. The side-by-side stages created a relentless music schedule as Attika 7 — comprised of former Biohazard bassist Evan Seinfeld and "Sons Of Anarchy" Hells Angel Rusty Coones — delivered their hard rock in front of a motorcycle. During Battlecross' set, I experienced the closest thing to air conditioning I would all day: windmill headbanging. I positioned myself in front of two long-haired men who, on cue from the thrash metal act, kept me cool. As the face-painted industrial metalcore band Motionless In White played to the growing aggressive crowd, I was reminded that metal festivals are not a comfortable place, nor do we want them to be, as the conditions mimicked the themes often painted in the lyrics of the songs.
I found myself on the rail of the smallest stage for headliners Scorpion Child, who hail from my homeland of Austin, Texas. A musical anomaly from the rest of the lineup, Scorpion Child 's hard rock/blues grooves were a welcome addition. As they wailed through tracks from their newly birthed self-titled debut, we danced and sweated along with them.
The crown jewel during Machine Head's set was guitarist Phil Demmel wielding his black-and-white polka-dotted Jackson Flying V — a signature axe of the late Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads, whose burial site happens to be not far down the San Manuel Amphitheater. As Machine Head ripped through their songs about hate and heartbreak, dust, shoes and empty bottles of life-sustaining liquids decorated the sky.
Finland's Children Of Bodom closed the field stages with their symphonic thrash metal, which, under the circumstances, sounded like the soundtrack to Armageddon. After six hours on the field — and witnessing fans collapse and be carted off by medics, while others were still throwing the sign of the horns at the exact proper time while being held up by their friends — the main stage festivities were just about to begin.
The Scandinavian invasion continued as Sweden's Amon Amarth performed on one of the better stage setups I've seen: a Viking ship. Growler Johan Hegg, a drinking horn dangling from his belt, was perched on or in front of the boat to deliver tracks such as "The Pursuit Of Vikings" and the newly unleashed "Deceiver Of The Gods." The massive amphitheater was turned into a Viking pep rally.
One of my all-time favorite bands, Atlanta's Mastodon, played next. The band's music has gotten me through a lot of rough times and, even though this was my 14th time seeing them, I heard music that's very intimate to me in the least intimate of settings. Their set was heavy on tracks from their 2011 release, The Hunter, and I was playing air guitar from afar, lip-synching the lyrics and laughing as others in the crowd were doing the same.
As the sun was setting on a fluorescent pink sky, the heat had finally taken its toll on me and I started to feel pretty woozy. I felt like I'd taken a Five Finger Death Punch before the Las Vegas band had even hit the stage. But having seen them and Rob Zombie many times before, I'm certain their big rock show thrilled those who lasted until the final throes of mayhem.
To catch the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
"This Is The End"
Children Of Bodom:
"Silent Night, Bodom Night"
"Hate Crew Deathroll"
"Angels Don't Kill"
"Halo Of Blood"
"In Your Face"
"Destroyer Of The Universe"
"The Pursuit Of Vikings"
"War Of The Gods"
"Deceiver Of The Gods"
"Death In Fire"
"Twilight Of The Thunder God"
"Dry Bone Valley"
"All The Heavy Lifting"
"Curl Of The Burl"
"Blood And Thunder"
(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)