This year’s installment of the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival made its way at Buffalo, NY’s Darien Lake this year, and metal heads of all ages made their way from rollercoaster to moshpit on a warm, comfortable day. Buffalo will probably get buried in a few feet of snow come September, so it was nice to have a good day to celebrate a 4-way metal legend extravaganza! The lineup, consisting of Anthrax, Motorhead, Slayer, and Slipknot, made no bones about what the day was going to bring forth. Stripped down from the full tour lineup, it was basically a “Headliners Only” showcase. It would’ve been cool to see the entire package in a day, but I was happy to only catch the cream.
Anthrax hit the stage at almost exactly 6:00pm, and there were lots of empty seats, coupled with a practically barren lawn area… A poor showing for one of NY’s Finest, and a shame for those that missed the performance, because they were hyper dialed for the western NY crowd! Singer Joey Belladonna’s swagger and energy thrives to this very day, and he led the crowd on a thrashtastic voyage crammed with classic and modern tracks.
Shadows Fall drummer Jason Bittner was hitting the skins this night, covering for an injured Charlie Benante, and he did a bang up job pounding through their brief time onstage. Rob Cargiano, Frank Bello, and Scott Ian all brought their A-game as well, keeping the rapid-fire metal crunch to a maximum throughout the set. We were privy to a few new tracks that were fast and heavy as hell, proof that a few decades have done nothing to slow this force down. Rob ripped through his solos with ease, and the movement on stage was nonstop.
I decided to walk around the general admission area to feel out the crowd, and immediately encountered a group of 4 young Nazi skinheads who were trying to start fights with drunken patrons. It wasn’t long before one fell for the bait, and all 4 Nazis began taunting and goading the lush into a squabble, leaving him with a busted lip. Thankfully, the primary antagonist got tossed and we could concentrate on the show again. Here’s a picture in case you see and want to beat the hell out of them in the future.
Right after Anthrax finished up, Big Jay Oakerson took to the microphone, asking the Buffalo crowd if they were ready for the uncircumcised metal of Motörhead!” He received an enthusiastic cheer from the crowd, and I found myself pondering his description and if I should be as excited as I was to witness metal’s foreskin forefathers. Hitting the stage at 6:45, the three-piece was loud as hell, and it was great to finally see them onstage for the first time! Lemmy’s trademark voice still in fine form, though that doesn’t mean you can understand what he’s saying. The straightforwardness of their delivery acts as an entertaining history lesson, evidenced by the old guy moshpit that took off in the lawn… Truly funny! If ever there was a sport that necessitated youth to fully participate in, moshing is it. Though they tried, the boozehound types just can’t cut it.
Lemmy, drummer Mickey D, and guitarist Philip Campbell have been sharing a stage together for 28 years, and it shows in the caliber of their delivery… Everything was rock solid and super tight. It’d better be after so much time together J Wondering if we were the loudest crowd on this tour, Lemmy’s raspy voice, oddly soothing in its gruffness, invited a full and excited response from the corwd before going into “The Ones That Sing The Blues,” a rarity he said we deserved this evening. Featuring a lengthy drum solo, the driving pulse and heavy tones were an awesome build up into their legendary hit and theme song, “Ace of Spades.” Lemmy ended their performance by saying “We are Motörhead, and we play Rock n Roll.” Yes they do, and God bless them for it!
Not long afterwards (approximately 8:10) Slayer hit the stage, and it was as if a bomb dropped on the crowd. Opening with “Disciple” is a sure way to get people amped. Follow it with “War Ensemble,” and you’ve got a bonafide riot on your hands. As I write this, I’d like to wish guitarist Jeff Hanneman the best of luck and a speedy recovery from the spider bite that almost killed him.
Kerry King, one of the most ominous presences on guitar ever, lurched on the stage, wielding his guitar like a weapon of mass destruction and pummeling the audience with trademark metal riffs often imitated, but never duplicated. Singer Tom Araya’s howlish screams and thunderous bass synched in well with Dave Lombardo’s signature speed and abusive rhythms. To this day, they are still one of the hardest bands to ever grace the music industry.
A stunning display of pyrotechnics and stage adornments emblazoned the stage, and Slayer pulled out all the stops for the Buffalo crowd’s enjoyment. Dedicating “Mandatory Suicide” to the unjustly imprisoned Randy Blythe from Lamb of God drew a rave response from the audience. Free Randy Blythe!
The only unfortunate part of the whole day, besides a bunch of lost kids starting shit and preaching hatred, was the super drunk girl who asked me if this was still Slayer on the stage, right as “Angel of Death” kicked in. Isn’t this a reason to revoke her ticket? I think so, but no matter. When Slayer ended with “Raining Blood” and the crowd went bonkers, I found myself able to forgive this small slight by a clueless woman.
But the real prize for this crowd was Slipknot, who were clearly in control of the popularity function of the crowd. Watching masked men running around dressed like their heroes, and seeing every other shirt with some form of Slipknot insignia on it, made it clear who the crowd was there to see. The amphitheater, now clearly full, burst at the seams with rowdy maggots eager for the octet to take the stage. When they finally began the intro to their first album and shut off all the lights to start up, Joey ripping double bass hits and making all types off noise, Darien Lake went berserk!
Forgive me if you think they are the end all be all of metal, but I have to say this… The band is one of the sloppier live acts, and there were noticeable flubs and staggers during their set, especially from Joey Jordison, but the spectacle and noise this 8-piece group makes is second to none, and the fans are clearly not in it for technical merit. Performing a bevy of hits throughout the evening, the sporadic pops and explosions that went off, particularly after “Wait and Bleed,” probably made more than a few ears bleed. Take note and protect your hearing when going to shows.
Ripping through a dense set list of songs, the darkest theatrical rock stars to ever come from Iowa have created a fantastic concept that gives all in attendance a reason to let go of their cares and rage along, and it was a great time!