Sun is out, people are pouring in, the parking lot is filled with random cars blaring all different types of music and people are pre-gaming with their own blend of toxicology before having to fork over 9 bucks for a beer. It must be the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival here at Sandstone!!!! Well it’s called Cricket Wireless now but we all know it as Sandstone Amphitheater. Things were about to get heavy here in the Midwest and we were taking the day off of work to enjoy it. The main entrance at Sandstone is always a long distance from the action on stage but there are many a merch booth and tents to grab your attention on the way over to the Jager stage and Sumerian Stage. There were tons of accessory tents filled with pipes, wrist guards, necklaces, shirts and even posters. Once you were past that and into the rear parking lot however, that’s where the fun and music was. This is where the headbanging took place, this is where the metal was for the afternoon.
I arrived in front of the Jager stage just as Betraying the Martyrs took stage. Their set was pretty good, they definitely set the tone for the stage. The band performed their hearts out and I enjoyed it for the most part. I wasn’t a fan of them honestly and even after seeing them I still wasn’t won over. I found myself just wondering when Whitechapel was going to be up. The coolest part about their set actually was the drummers ability to keep the crowd pumped when the power failed. He played a small solo and even got the crowd to chant with his drumming. After they were done I wondered around the ground for a little bit, trying to find out where the Rockstar Energy free drink tent was, the signing tables and all of the different merch tents. I thought Meyhem fest was supposed to be 2 stages but I never found the Sumerian stage until later. After I had my fill of endless wandering and people watching, I head back towards the Jager stage to see Whitechapel perform.
I’ve seen Whitechapel multiple times and they never disappointed me. Once again, they came and conquered the audience. It was in the middle of the day so they didn’t have their epic lighting to add to the show, it was just them and their music. Thankfully, that’s enough for me. They blazed through their first song, literally. The equipment was smoking and the sound cut out right at the end of the first song. After a small delay, they fixed the problem and got right back to it. Punishing the crowd through their set, they finally got Kansas excited and amped. The sound was great and each guitar was audible and even Gabe’s bass work could be heard. They did a great job and even with a small technical failure they managed to put an amazing amount of power into such a small time frame. Their final song is decent but it not a strong closer compared to the rest of their set. Still, I was satisfied with their performance.
In between Whitechapel and Asking Alexandria, Sid aka #0 aka DJ Starscream came out and played some sick beats for the crowd. I apparently missed Dirtfedd due to this scratching performance, I simply couldn’t hear or see the Sumerian stage at all. So Sid finished up his DJ act and Asking Alexandria took the stage. I’ve never really been into AA but I was curious as to how they would be live and in person. I enjoyed the hell out of their latest music video so I was hoping to catch the same feeling from their live show. Honestly, it was a let down. All of their songs sounded the same to me and Danny’s vocals just bothered me a tad. I grew so uninterested that I headed for the Rockstar Energy tent to sit down and have a nice refreshing Lemonade flavored drink. That hit the spot and I continued to watch the show from there in the amazing shade.
Next band to take the stage was The Devil Wears Prada and I’ve never really been into their music at all. It just never really grabbed me but they were damn good live. The music was still alright but I was definitely doing a little headbanging throughout their set. Each band member flies around on stage and has a good time. The Devil Wears Prada sounded great and they kicked our asses indefinitely.
After their set I FINALLY FOUND THE SUMERIAN STAGE!!!! I just could barely hear a band playing off in the distance and what I thought was a merch tent ended up being the stage itself! I Missed quite a bit of music because of this!!! The stage was tiny, the sound was quiet and if it wasn’t for the huge gathering of bro’s for Upon A Burning Body, well then I might have missed them as well. UABB were dressed for success as they brought the deathcore death party to Bonner Springs, KS. The crowd went nuts and hardcore dancing and people jumping up and down broke out all over the place. One of the cool things was the fact that since it WAS such a small tent, people could stand on the sides of the stage basically. It was a unique angle and I wish I would have seen the other bands on this stage.
After Upon A Burning Body was done with their set, Anthrax was just about to take stage. They opened up with “Caught In A Mosh” and their energy never went down after that. They ripped through set which included classics such as “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t” and “Madhouse”. I was getting burned out so I sat back and enjoyed their set from the Rockstar Energy drink tent. I love the fact that Rockstar provides free drinks, and so many flavors too. They don’t skimp on them at all. I appreciate that and I’m sure thousands of others do as well considering the prices at these venues for a cold drink.
The back lot stages were finally done and the main stage acts were soon to hit the stage. I ran and got a cheeseburger and enjoyed the opener for the main stage, As I Lay Dying. I haven’t listened to these guys in years and they wow’d me, to say the least. They played hit after hit and each song sounded so good. These guys are truly heavy and talented. They were the perfect opener honestly because I was exhausted at this point with the heat and sun beaming down on us all day. They pumped a little energy back into Sandstone during their set.
Next up was Motorhead and I’ve always been into them. Their approach to rock and roll is different yet still undeniably catchy and good. However, Lemmy’s voice is a blunder of words, noises and whatnot. It was incredibly hard to understand what he was saying, even when the music was silent and he was talking in between songs. He may need speech therapy, honestly. He sounds as bad as Ozzy, however the tunes were still good and the show wasn’t all lost. the sound and live production sounded damn good and drummer Mikkey Dee was phenomenal to watch. Nearing 50 years old you’d think he would be slow and off his rocker but his drumming was very strong and it stole the show for me.
Next up was the highlight of most of the crowd’s day. Everyone survived the slaughter of the hot sun so they could see the almighty SLAYER take the stage and demolish Sandstone once again!!! Each time I’ve seen Slayer here though their sound always got messed up, either Kerry King’s guitar would cut out or Araya’s PA would stop and we couldn’t hear the lyrics. Well this time everything went flawlessly. The set was incredibly strong and the sun was setting, so their lighting production was incredible! Not only was the sound and lighting a true spectacle, the inverted cross Marshall cab structures spitting out fire was just amazing. The aging thrashers still bring it 100% and own the crowd each and every second they are playing. The song choices were nothing but hits: Disciple, Die By The Sword, Hate Worldwide, Mandatory Suicide, Dead Skin Mask , South of Heaven and much much more! I think it’s safe to say that Slayer wow’d us, they kicked our asses and I know I sure as hell got caught a second wind. That was one of the better times I’ve seen them live.
With Slayer putting on such a spectacular show, I was certain that the Slipknot performance was going to be boring in comparison. Well once the curtain raised and the music started, Slipknot went balls out and showed everyone that they still have something to prove. The stage was set in a way that almost made the show seem like a carnival. Joey right in the middle on a small platform, the big drum towers on both sides, samples booth behind the left tower and DJ area behind the right. Corey’s main area was dead center on the platforms and Mick and Jim on guitars stayed right next to him on either side, switching it up every once in awhile. While it’s all appealing to the eyes, I noticed that the energy just wasn’t all there, not how they use to get down. They still perform their songs, drum, headbang and even Sid still jumps around like a maniac, but in general the energy wasn’t like it use to be. Clown and Chris do their duties but it’s very neutured compared to 10 years ago. I understand we all get old but many bands have been going hard for 20-30 years now. Ask the band that played before you…
With that said, their song choices were pretty damn good. I would have rather heard more from S/T and Iowa but I’m biased when it comes to those two albums and the last two records. They played their hit singles, they played their old heavier songs and they once again “made history” with the extended “Jump the fuck up” version of “Spit It Out”. Am I the only one who is tired of this? Just play the damn song the whole way through, quit delaying it. With that said, after 5 minutes of waiting, it is cool to see the entire stadium/amphitheater jump up when he says so. So I’m 50-50 on that anymore. Their end was strong when they closed with “Surfacing”.
Each musician nailed their part and Corey hasn’t sounded this good in years. It’s great to hear Mr. Taylor still belt out AND sing his parts amazingly well. I grew concerned around 2005 when I saw them and he wasn’t performing well at all. 7 years later he has improved and still dominates when it comes to getting the crowd to respond and play along with him.
The stage was absolutely beautiful, their wicked “S” symbol all over the place with one in the middle that was bigger….and on fire from time to time. This marked the first time seeing them with pyro for me and it was awesome. Especially during “The Heretic Anthem”, each time they screamed “Six!” a plume of flame spewed out from the cannons. It was pretty bad ass. Another really remarkable part of their show was the snow machine spitting snow everywhere and the lights turning a cold blue and the song “Gently” playing. Oh man, that was a sight to behold and it was awesome hearing that song live again. Each time I see them, they get better and better…in terms of sound, performance and song choices. Clown and Chris are getting old and so they aren’t nearly as exciting to watch but it was still a gnarly show. The entire crowd was into it and sang along during every song.
The Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival 2012 show was a success! Thank you for coming out to Bonner Springs, KS once again and hope to see you guys again next year!