On July 14th, 2012, I woke up at 3:30 in the morning. I had worked a twelve hour shift the day before and I was preparing to work as long as a ten hour shift on that day.
I ended up only working six hours, and by two or three o' clock I was heading towards Atlanta with my cousin. After a long ride that didn't go the way I had planned/hoped, we got to Aaron's Ampitheatre at Lakewood and got our tickets. Actually, we had a way to walk and I've been hobbling. I don't know if I'm just sore from work, or if I hurt my foot or toe. Either way, we got our tickets. I had ordered mine online and my cousin was buying his at the box office.
Now, I'm used to Warped Tour, so I booked it to where all the Warped Tour stages are at the ampitheatre only to find a locked gate with trucks on the other side.
I don't know if this is true of all dates or just Atlanta, but Mayhem's battlegrounds is Warped Tour's parking lot and Warped Tour's battlegrounds is Mayhem's parking lot.
So, my cousin now taking the lead, we booked it over to the other gate, hoping to find some booths, some tents, some music, some METAL! And we did. The first band we came across was The Devil Wears Prada rocking at the Jagermeister stage.
Now, I'm not trying to annoy any fans out there, but I wasn't impressed. Now in full disclosure, while I own Plagues and I enjoy it, I'm not a big fan of TDWP. What I caught of their show didn't impress me. I didn't witness Mike Hranica using any crowd control, which I'm a sucker for. And sure, you could argue that crowd control isn't the job of the vocalist or anybody on stage (has any band ever had just a crowd controller?), but still, bunches and lots of lead singers, especially lead singers that are popular and famous (even if just in their scene or genre) are utilizers of crowd control.
But then again, as I said, I'm no big fan of TDWP.
So we went off to check out all of the booths. At the Century Media booth they were offering a free download card, which I accepted. At the Whitechapel booth there was no one I recognized, shirts I couldn't afford and a donation box (dude just got married). It was Clown or Slipknots booths, or both, that had a HUGE line, so I guess it was a good thing I didn't want to buy anything or get anything signed.
After some time had passed, we went to the Sumerian Stage, wondering what that had in store for us, not recognizing the band, a Upon A Burning Body.
Simple put. It was killer. All the elements lined up right. Sumerian Records had a small and intimate stage, there was room to mosh and headbang and all of that good business, Upon a Burning Body was loud and hard and Danny, the lead singer, used some great crowd control. So we rocked out to that set. Jumping up and down, throwing up horns and headbanging all while trying to avoid pits. Metalhead as we are, neither my cousin or I have ever felt a desire to thrash in the pit.
We stayed till the very end of Upon a Burning Body and then I pulled out the program. Next was Anthrax closing the Jagermeister stage. We headed back that way. I was curious. I've always considered myself a thrash fan - I like Slayer, Testament, Exodus - And Anthrax is supposedly considered one of the Big Four of Thrash, coincidentally I don't like three of the four of the 'Big Four.' Still I was curious and there were no other bands playing, so we checked them out.
And they weren't bad. Maybe a little stuck in the 90s, but they weren't bad. Me and my cousin ended up bailing a little early because I wanted to grab a drink and see the local band before heading over to the main stage.
After paying almost an hours worth of work for a bottle of water we headed back over to the Sumerian Stage, I was curious and hopeful, I wanted to see a local band, a band I could see again and for cheap, a band I could cover and talk to, bring it HARD at Mayhem. I sat down across from the stage to rest my legs and feet before the show (remember, there is pain/discomfort coming from that region and I'm trying to go as hard as I can as long as I can).
When the crowd starts to build and my cousin sees people getting on stage, we hurry over to get up close to the stage. I wouldn't know this until the end of their set, but they were Eyes of Torment, and they brought the show down.
Their lyrics and the way Will presented them were mindblowing. This was the type of metal show that turns your bones into adamantium and your skin into mithril. I know I'm not only listening to metal but feeling METAL when my face scrunches up into a kind of cross between a scowl and 'something stinks.' You know it's a Metal show when you're stomping around your little piece of dust like you own the place and that's what Eyes of Torment did for me. They had me windmilling so hard and so perfect that my glasses flew off my face.
And I wasn't the only one who liked them. When they got finished with their set the whole crowd was chanting 'One More! One More! One More! One More!' But whoever was running the Sumerian Stage wouldn't give it to them, or to us, even though they earned it and we deserved it.
So, after having been slighted (but brought back up by reassurance from the band) my cousin and I went over to the Main Stage where As I Lay Dying was wrapping up their set before Motorhead came on.
Motorhead was good. I remember one absolutely wicked drum solo. They are classic and they will always be classic. Those MotherF*ckers probably remember jam bands and remember Woodstock. I kind of felt that in their show more then anything.
And Slayer brought it. They got the crowd going. They were definitely the appetizer and the foreplay in my opinion though. (NO DISRESPECT TO SLAYER)
To be honest I spent most of their set sitting or laying in the grass, somewhere between conscious and unconscious.
But then Slipknot came on, and after I forced myself to get up and take some pictures from the Ampitheatre (I'd bought an actual seat, but decided to only enter the ampitheatre to take pictures, I felt better/more comfortable on the grass) I knew I'd have to stay on my feet and rockin' for this show or I'd regret it. I felt it in my bones. And I was right. Slipknot brought it all home for me. They played a lot of good songs - Psychosocial, Wait and Bleed, Stomp It Out, People = Shit, Before I Forget, Snuff - I mean, the set was amazing and Corey Taylor, talking about crowd control, I remember when Bruce Dickinson said you have to shrink the whole arena, the whole ampitheatre and make the person in the back think you're talking to them (I think it was in Sam Dunn's documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey) and that is EXACTLY what Corey Taylor did to/for me at Mayhem Festival this year. Eyes of Torment baptized me in the Metal, but Slipknot, Slipknot said to me, you are one of us, you are with us, stand proud and tall with us, and we will never fail you.
And that is part of what Metal had always been about for me. Even though Slipknot didn't play my favorite song - Pulse of the Maggots - they still killed it, and over all, I had a spectacular time.
Thank you to all the bands and fans who came out. To all the organizations and things.
To Kevin Lyman & John Reese
And to my cousin, even though he never reads my blogs. He is my Brother in Arms and my best friend. We've grown up together, fell in love with metal together and these types of shows and events are only half as fun without him.
Long Live Metal!