The hottest day of the summer, so far, and the hottest concert (both temperature and music-wise) that I’ve been to in my life was yesterday’s 2013 RockStar Mayhem Festival, which took place yesterday afternoon/evening at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ. The temperature when we arrived at about 1:30 PM was super-intense…it must have been about 102 degrees…talk about stifling!! But, that notwithstanding, we endured the elements to enjoy the show…there were eight of us, including the lead singer and guitarist for the up-and-coming local band WDFA (to Cesar and Justin, a pleasure meeting and chilling with you both…looking forward to the future), my eldest brother, my nephew, my niece and her boyfriend with a close friend of theirs.
Upon arriving, we were witnesses to one of the hottest bands on the scene, the second act on the third stage, a screamo band known as Butcher Babies. With two female leads that utilize their second set of vocal chords, they were a really premium act that had supreme crowd interaction skills, commanding the crowd into opening up a pit more massive than any pit I had seen before! They were a nice addition to my collection that I will have to speak about more in the future.
I also was witness to another class act in the opening part of the afternoon…a really nice part of the metal scene known as Born of Osiris, which featured two lead males on their black/screamo songs that reminded me of being almost Dream Theater-like, as they utilized a keyboard in their tracks. They also are a band that I will speak of once I obtain there music.
The last band on my excursion before shopping was a real nice black metal band known as Job For A Cowboy, which feature a male lead whose voice kind of reminded me of bands like Carnivore and DevilDriver…low, clear and raspy, like a good black metal band should have. Totally focused on crowd interaction, they were a nice shot in the arm for my visual encyclopedia. They were one of the acts that I had no guilt over paying to see.
It was just after I witnessed that act that my nephew and I decided to go shopping around the second and third stage areas, with many different band and accessory shop you could think of…from headshops to T-shirt vendors of all shapes and sizes, to band booths with special signings and hangouts, and lots and lots of merchandise. It was there that I purchased my first item…a genuine Zippo lighter with my zodiac sign of Aries on it…which was the last one on the rack!! The vendor also gave me a choice of a free hat, T-shirt or bandanna with my purchase…so I decided on the bandanna complete with Zippo markings all over it. Considering the temperature these last few days, and knowing the technique for cooling off with one, I figured that it was a good decision.
After that, he and I walked past the light rail tracks of the Camden station, towards where the main stage was positioned, we noticed more of the same headshops and memorabilia vendors…there were more than you could shake a stick at. By the time he and I finished walking around the huge setup of carts that were there, it was almost time for them to open the main stage…at about 6 PM, which was amazing considering the short amount of time that it actually felt like.
Once they opened the gate to the spacious lawn area that our tickets had been designated for, we made our way up to the most comfortable (considering the weather) spot on the lawn and prepared to rock the evening to its’ highest pinnacle. The Susquehanna Bank Center’s amazingly vast lawn area and the main screens positioned all around the outside of the upper facade were a site to behold…and one I would not mind visiting again. As the brief interlude of someone winning a guitar shredding contest proceeded the first act, I noticed that there was a certain “odor” in the air…that many, including myself have come to expect from this type of event…which is NOT a bad thing at all, in my honest opinion.
The first band to grace the stage was the Swedish “Viking metal” group known as Amon Amarth, who I had previously encountered through one of my nephews. I actually enjoyed the couple of songs that I had heard prior to this concert, including the upcoming “Deceiver of the Gods”, and I knew that the music was something that you had to hear in order to appreciate its’ beauty. That having been said, the band came out with a get-up that included a front-view Viking ship, complete with a smoke-producing dragon-styled masthead on it, which allowed the lead singer and guitarist to venture back and forth along the way.
In my honestly humble opinion, they blew the roof (figuratively) of the arena…and many of the participants that were there with me agree. They had a very humble presence about them…at one point, the lead singer said that “the band’s new song entered the charts at Number 19…and we thank you all for that”, which, in my mind was an act I did not expect to see at a concert of this magnitude and very classy on their part!
The next band on the main stage was a group that I had heard of called Mastodon…which took the concert back down a notch, as their mannerisms were like they had not wanted to be there at all! Very little crowd interactions made their music, however enjoyable and Meh!!! that it was seem inferior to our final two acts.
The penultimate (next-to-last) group on the list was a band introduced to me by the same aforementioned nephew called 5 Finger Death Punch. Now, I will be honest enough to tell you that I had grown irritated of this group presence in my life that I don’t have any of their music on my iPod…that said, I will also be honest enough to tell you that, although I will not put their tunes in my ears, I have a newfound respect for their energy.
A very well-done, very humble, super crowd-oriented, performance from a band that I had previously discarded. The backdrop of their songs was patriotic at times and his interaction with the crowd as a prelude to an a capella intro to a popular 5FDP track (track unknown, sorry not a fan, remember?) was a nice touch. Some of the people I overheard actually accused them of putting on better performances but, for the first time seeing them live, they have certainly changed my opinion of them.
Of course, the headliner for the night, the esteemed “Master of Horror” Mr. Rob Zombie had the ultimate stage show, complete with miniature fireworks and flames and confetti and over-sized animatronic-like robots…and a rotating “Zombie” trolley. An awesome set, which included the musical staples “Dragula”, “Living Dead Girl”, “Sick Bubble Gum” and a new cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band”, and a guest appearance by his wife and sidekick Sheri Moon Zombie, the songs were accompanied by various animations which where displayed on large Hi-Def monitors which were encircled around the stage…that was the most awesome show that I have experienced to date!!!!
With a very productive two days behind me, I would like to thank again my companions on this wonderful vacation day…the aforementioned Cesar Perez and his lead singer Justin, my nephew, etc., to all the bands involved, and to the Gods of Metal for making my life just a little brighter.
/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\