Back at the beginning of the year, my sister and girlfriend were chatting about music. My sister’s tastes ranged from Metallica to Avenged Sevenfold and Jamie recounted growing up with the members of Slipknot back in metal head Iowa. After much conversation, Jamie agreed to go to Mayhem Fest, a hard metal concert tour headlined by Rob Zombie. The lineup featured ghoulish band names and sinister tent promotions from the likes of Jagermiester and Rockstar energy drink. Corporate greed and ear splitting music combined to create an aura of epic excess.
The moment they agreed to go, my sister pointed to me and said, “And YOU. You’re going too.”
Four months and $55 later, I found myself standing in the parking lot of the PNC Bank Arts Center surrounded by costumed maniacs and hellish guitar riffs. Merchant booths selling everything from zombie contact lenses to pot paraphernalia to goth chick tutus lined the festival. Creatures from a thousand tombs coursed through the promenades like their mother’s worst nightmare. People watching at its finest.
In the mess of it all, there was gut crunching rock music. Back in high school, my tastes swung between happy-go-lucky ska and mopey alternative. Aside from some Fear Factory and a little Metallica, metal was not in my wheelhouse. In the interest of being open minded, I gave the music a fair crack at turning me over to the dark side. Here are my impressions of each band I saw in the order I saw them:
Most of their set was heard from the merch concourse, but it sounded decent enough. We caught their last song in person and it’s always entertaining to hear metal chicks screaming nonsense into microphones. There’s something very entertaining about all that. The music itself was uninspiring thrash, but I’ve always been a sucker for riot grrl (yes, I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s spelt. Google could not confirm it).
Score: 3 gallons of face paint and hair dye out of 5
Born of Osiris
Loud, abrasive and heavy on the double bass, Born of Osiris did their best to sonically punch my ear drums. Highlights included an exceptional bass player and the occasional smattering of keyboard every five minutes or so. Not much to say other than they made it nice and difficult to order a $13 24 oz can of Heineken. Well done, good sirs.
Score: 3.7 trips to the $4 surcharge ATM out of 5.
Job For A Cowboy
Twenty minutes into their set, my brother turned to me and shouted, “What’s the name of this band? I can’t read the font on their banner.” By their last song, I had cracked the code. After two hours of standing on the punishing hot asphalt, the non-stop music barrage was beginning to mush together, so I can’t really say if they were good or not. The one highlight was when they yelled, “Who here likes to masturbate?” and then played stereotypical cranking sounds as the crowd cheered their approval. I’m still confused why they wanted the details of everyone’s most personal, intimate moments. Maybe they’re writing a book.
Score: 2 uncomfortable moments of quandary out of 5
In fairness to the fine folks of Emmure, I only heard one and a half songs in their set. The minute the lead singer grabbed the mic and yelled, “Yo! Yo! Lemme see ya JUMP!”, I retreated to the water tank to refill my $10 PNC Bank Arts Center water bladder. Afterwards, we all ran to the relative comfort of the Rockstar Energy Drink tent where we drank from our canteens and gave our brains a rest. Sorry, Emmure. I grew up in a world where Limp Bizkit was the biggest band on the planet. Last thing I need at the age of 32 is a white guy begging me to get my hands in the air.
Score: 1 flashback to the days of pimples and puberty out of 5
So far, so blah. Does the show get better or do I run screaming from the parking lot in a fit of metal fueled rage. Find out in Part 2 later this week!