Review and Photos by Diana MacDonald
Darien, NY - Tuesday's overcast, yet calm skies were a fitting ominous backdrop for the return of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival to the Darien Lake PAC. Like the other writers for RockMusicStar who covered the "Rockstar" festivals in the past, I really had to pick and choose which artists I wanted to cover, considering the amazing amount of talent which was performing on the four different stages set up amidst the concert grounds. To make matters worse, not only were there sets which overlapped one another, but this year, there were times when there would be two bands playing at almost the same exact time slots (mostly on the Sumerian Records and Victory Records stages). Being outdoors, and the stages not being far enough away from one another, the bands who were playing early on in the day wound up having their sound severely compromised, with everything sounding muddled. The headlining 'main stage' bands really benefited by being the sole acts performing onstage during each of their respective time slots, and all sounded amazing.
The first group I planned on covering was Mushroomhead. Taking an early 3 o'clock start on "Coldcock Whiskey" stage, I truly hoped that they would be as good live, as what I had hoped they would be, from listening to them prior to the show. Assuming their stage show was somewhat limited due to the restraints of playing on a smaller stage, in a festival setting, the band's visual presentation was as stunning as ever. With new masks that outdo their rival peers in Slipknot, they also had percussionists who blasted water up in the air, every time they hit the stage left and stage right kettle type drums. What seemed simple in nature had a very impressive visual affect. Mushroomhead's unique triple lead singer approach simply adds more layers to the madness, as they seamlessly traded off vocals without missing a beat. The only downfall was that the band just did not play long enough, as 25 minutes is simply not enough time for a group as great as Mushroomhead.
Next up was Body Count, led by the cultural icon, Ice-T. Although three out of the band's original five members are deceased, Body Count's current lineup has remained the same since 2013, with their newest member, Juan of the Dead (rhythm guitar) joining the band last year. Juan joined the group, along with longtime members Ill Will (drummer, 2009 - present), Vincent Price (bass, 2001 - present) and co-founders Ice-T and Ernie C (who started the group in 1990). And although he's not credited as an official member of the group, Ice-T's son, Lil T graced the stage as a backup singer/rapper. As the band got things going with "There Goes the Neighborhood" (from the 1992 self titled CD, "Body Count"), the power went out and really killed the momentum of their already too short, 7 song set. While Ice-T handled the situation in the utmost professional manner, he was rather adamant in finding out the cause of the loss of power. During the lull in the set, Ice-T not only introduced his son to the crowd, but also had his wife Coco make a quick appearance onstage, which ironically got a larger rise out of the females in the crowd than the men (at least from where I was standing). Once the power came back on, Body Count finished their set strong, ending with "Talk Shit, Get Shot" (from 2014's "Manslaughter" CD) and the crowd favorite, "Cop Killer."
Out of all of main stage acts, Korn was the band to see. I would have to say the crowd agreed with me, as the place simply went nuts when the band hit the stage. Their 12 song set consisted primarily of their most known material, as the crowd continued to erupt as they played hit after hit. In their heyday, Korn's music and performance may have been fueled by youth and aggression, but the Korn of today tells a much different story, as they all seem to convey a different, more mature kind of energy, clearly inspired by their children - whom they brought out onstage at the end of their set. Ending the set with, according to singer Jonathan Davis, "the song that started it all" - "Blind," Korn and their children rocked it out, as the kids danced, head banged and threw out guitar picks, while their 'daddies' brought the crowd to an unbridled frenzy.
This year's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival seemed to satisfy the almost 8,000 in attendance, but I hope in the future they can figure out a way to either separate the side stages more, or stagger the performance times better, so they don't overlap. I'm definitely looking forward to next year's lineup, so let the 'Mayhem' continue.
Review and Photos by Diana MacDonald