Review / photos: Godsmack, Disturbed and an ailing Megadeth lead the Mayhem Festival at Tampa's 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre
It was another August day. Hot and muggy, and as always, a chance of rain.
Last year’s Mayhem Festival was a mud hole. The weather was not the best for the crowd, who made the best of it, turning themselves into farm animals to wallow in the grime. Would this year be a repeat?
The crowds showed up early at the this year’s Mayhem Fest on Saturday at the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre, with Disturbed (above), Megadeth, Godsmack, Trivium and more. With the first band playing at 1:45 p.m., it would be a long day for someone wanting to stay the entire day, which would end close to 11 p.m. But fans could spend Sunday sleeping all day and recovering from the “mayhem,” so I think they were down for the challenge.
The irony of Mayhem Fest is that it’s about metal mayhem. I think someone needs to tell the lawyers for Live Nation, who decided to post a large sign which declared anyone caught moshing, crowd surfing, etc... would be ejected from the concert.
Ummmm, okay, cool ... that’s going to work out just fine. Put Barry Manilow on the bill, and maybe those fans will adhere to that request. But Mayhem fans? Quite a joke indeed.
With rain threatening, the music started, and the first few rounds of music offered a glimpse of what was to come. Catalyst, Straight Line Stitch, and Red Fang prepped the crowd, but didn’t slow them down, as the Rock Star Energy Drink Motorcross Stunt Team did flips and zings through the air to the right of the stage.
Kindom Of Sorrow was a high energy band. Musically they were tight and heavy, but didn’t throw me off the edge. I wanted more.
Suicide Silence was up next. They had an excellent stage show and vocalist Mitch Lucker worked the crowd to a frenzy. His devious glares peered through the mic as his vocals exploded. It was a great set for the start of the day.
Watching Unearth, from Massachusetts, was similar to watching a comedy show. Singer Trevor Phillips dove into the crowd, and guitarist Ken Susi did a beer funnel on stage, then spat on various unlucky concertgoers. Again, the music was heavy, as expected, but with so many heavy bands in the day’s lineup, this was a good way to separate themselves from the rest.
Metal veterans Machine Head took the Revolver stage, and it was as if they were headlining their own show. Guitarist Adam Duce and vocalist Robb Flynn traded licks with one another as Duce fretted Flynn’s guitar and played like a pro. Impressive! The Grammy-nominated band put on a pretty long set, and we look forward for their new release, Unto the Locust.
Now, on to the Ampitheatre, and out of the direct sunlight. In Flames was originally set to play the main stage; however, due to family-related matters they were forced to cancel the remainder of their Mayhem dates. After some shuffling, it was decided that Trivium would take the main stage, before Megadeth. Talk about good news for the band from Altamonte Springs.
Trivium has been in the Tampa music scene from its inception in 1999. Frontman Travis Smith has a new look, cutting his hair short. Their new album In Waves was just released in time for the Mayhem Tour. Trivium played a good show and their fans were loud and happy to see them on the main stage for Mayhem.
Now for what I considered the main performance of the night: Megadeth! The members walked to the stage one at a time, with Dave Mustaine appearing last, walking slowing to center stage. Green lights and fog spilled onto the stage. The 40-and-up crowd went nuts, the 20-year-olds were wondering what the fuss was all about. It just went to show the age gap within the audience, and how some people just do not realize the roots of metal. Megadeth was at the forefront of the metal era in 1983, kids!
Prior to Megadeth taking the stage, the crowd had been notified by Mayhem organizers that Mustaine was suffering from severe shoulder pain, and there was consideration of them cancelling their show. Mustaine was unable to turn his head from left to right. From the first song, I was just all out in metal mode. Their set list was short, way too short — only five songs! It was apparent that Mustaine was in pain. His movements were micro, and his voice low. While not the performance I would expect from the iconic metalheads, it was great that Mustaine decided to perform despite his obvious discomfort. They started with Hanger 18, and played my old favorites, including Peace Sells, so I was happy. I hope this medical issue is not serious and Megadeth and Mustaine continues to hammer through Mayhem Fest.
Godsmack was up next, and I feel they took the majority of the fan response. While I am personally not a huge Godsmack fan, I enjoyed watching their show. Lead vocalist Sully Erna showed his flexibility as a musician, giving an awesome dueling drum solo with drummer Shannon Larkin. I felt like I was listening to a 98 Rock marathon, with all of their songs sounding like tunes from the FM dial. Godsmack played a very long 45-minute set, and Erna spent 5 minutes talking the crowd into a 30 second shout-out session dedicated to the U.S. military.
The packed stands were standing the entire time and singing along with Erna’s vocals. When Godsmack ended their set, it seemed the entire crowd herded to the restrooms at the same time. It was like watching cattle.
Last up was Disturbed. Either the crowd was tired, or they were here to see Godsmack, because they seemed to have lost their mojo when Disturbed came to the stage. Their performance was lackluster, as if they were forced to perform based on a contract rather than a desire. They played all of their well-known songs, and vocalist David Draiman walked the stage in a calm and calculated manner. He didn’t do too much to get the crowd amped up. He seemed satisfied and content with the mood of the night.
The sound was good, and I am sure Disturbed fans loved the show. It just seem to be missing some “ooomph” that is needed for a headlining band of Mayhem Fest (like last year’s headliner, Korn). They ended their evening with an expected favorite, Down With The Sickness, and the exhausted crowd gave them verbal acceptance. It was the end of the very long day, and time for Tampa to get some sleep.
-- Review / photos by Andrew Carlton, tbt*