The Venue Versus the People
The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest went off in Tinley Parks’ First Midwest Bank Amphitheater on Sunday, July 20th with a thunderous sound that probably shook the windows of nearby houses and made police officers nervous. Those that say that Metal music is dead, have obviously never been to a Metal show, let alone a full on festival! From the moment that the first band hit the stage the performers kept the energy high like the marijuana smoke surrounding the venue did. It was tag team effort.
Now there were some standout bands that hit the Coldcock Whiskey, Sumerian Records and Victory Records stages. One of those bands was THC (Texas Hippie Coalition), despite one of its members being sick, gave a heavy southern dose of their Red Dirt Metal and injected it right into the faces of the mass of fans crowd surfing and moshing through the set.
One of the newer bands to the scene ripped up the Victory Records stage. Islander gave a veteran kind of performance to all the intensely loyal and hot fans who attended the Victory stage, along with the veterans, Ill Nino and Emmure. Honorable mentions of course go out to the blistering efforts made by Wretched and Erimha.
The Sumerian stage saw Body Count led by the Pimp-master himself, Ice T who gave the crowd their mean, topical and heavy brand of rap/metal/punk music. Ice T, who was pretty much unseen except for one glimpse that the crowd got of him going to his tour bus with his bulldog and bumping a few fists through the fence, gave a performance like the true entertainer that he is.
The other standout band was Veil of Maya. I watched the crowd immediately receive what this band put out. I’m not going to lie; I never heard anything from them until that day, but that’s what festivals like this are for, right? They came out and played like a heat seeking missile. The notes flew from their amps and hit every hot metal head in the crowd.
The Coldcock Whiskey stage got to see Mushroomhead, which was a shock to me. I would have figured them to be on the main stage. I never got to see Mushroomhead, but I’m glad I did! Anybody who says that they are a knockoff of Slipknot doesn’t know anything about this band. Between the water drums, the music and the overall brutal set; this band had the fans eating out of a bowl of intestines. Seeing Mushroomhead live was like taking Halloween and metal then mixing it with the Blue Man Group. The whole time I was thinking that their stage show deserved the big stage!
The main stage saw the bands Trivium, Asking Alexandria, Korn, and Avenged Sevenfold. These bands gave everything they had to the crowd. Jonathon Davis proudly announced that this year marks 20 years for the band, but you wouldn’t have guessed that from their performance. Korn worked the crowd up into a hormonal frenzy that would have backed up a Steroid-raged wrestler onto his ass! If it has been 20 years for Korn, they never showed their age! When Korn shouted, “Are you ready?” The crowd answered with a fervent YES!
What can you say about Avenged Sevenfold? The only band that I can think of off the top of my head right now with more bad luck is Lynyrd Skynyrd. Death, they’ve felt it. Personal tragedy, they took it. Career threatening injury, that happened too and they seem that much stronger for it! A7X, their cult-like fans and I’m sure newly acquired fans got quite a treat; I know I did! I own a couple of their CD’s, but I found a new respect for this band. The stage show was everything that Rock-n-Roll music used to deliver on a regular basis. They had the demonic stage set which eventually delivered a 20 plus foot skeleton king, battle ready. A7X also delivered a pyrotechnic spectacle that may have rivaled a Kiss show…OK maybe not a Kiss show, but let me tell you, it was spectacular. They gave the closers a longer set that also generously gave fans 2 encores leaving any doubters and haters nothing to complain about.
Overall the show delivered on every penny the tickets were worth ($60.00 for lawn). Nothing bad can be said about the performers. The venue itself is a different story. I covered this festival last year for another magazine. The tickets last year were not as expensive. That’s really just the start.
The First Midwest Bank Amphitheater also tightened up the bootlaces quite a bit this year. They were a lot stricter with the tailgating in the parking lot this year, making sure that you were getting shuffled into the venue without any beer. Once you got to the gates, security did their regular search letting in a certain amount of contraband like booze and weed; you know, the concert essentials.
When I went up to get a beer I almost fell over. My hips almost gave out which would have left my body falling in a very Charlie Chaplin kind of way. I asked for a tallboy (24 ounces) of Pabst Blue Ribbon and the woman said sharply without any kind of remorse for the request, “That will be fifteen dollars.”
“FIFTEEN DOLLARS?!? You have got to be kidding me?”
She replied dryly, “No sir, fifteen dollars.”
“Then no, can I just get water then?”
She handed me my almost five dollar water without the cap. I asked, “Can I get that cap please?”
“No sir, my boss says that we can’t give you the cap.”
“Do you think I’m a 2 year old? Am I going to choke on it like a toddler who isn’t sure what I can and can’t swallow? Look, I’m press,” I held up my press band and a bag of camera equipment including a tripod, “I just need the cap because I’m working and I’m going to need to stick it in the bag when I need to.”
Needless to say, she wouldn’t give me the cap. The prices for drinks and food were outrageous and not outrageous in the sense that I would pay for it by justifying that it was a concert. The FMBA finally did it for me; they hit the price that I could not justify, even at a concert!
Rating: The Concert get’s a 9.5/10
Rating: The First Midwest Bank Amphitheater itself get’s a 3/10