By: Fridae Mattas
Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival 2014 finally arrived on a beautiful Friday, not too hot not too cold! Actually, it was a little crisp by the lake at the Molson Canadian Amphitheater for July 25th, I’m just so glad it didn’t rain! The only water flow noted other than a drunk girl lean peeing on the wall by the mainstage…Was when IceT decided to spray his water bottle everywhere. Instantly everyone with a camera in the media-pit covered their gear, myself included. Water dries but it still fucks up your equipment! Lately I have been covering only select events because my FridaeTV time is extremely scarce these days. I’m amazed that this editorial, photos included is being published so soon even with a technical issue. I guess that’s just how amazing my problem solving abilities have become over time. There was a slight delay getting to the venue but I reached just in time for the last Suicide Silence media tune. Was absolutely annoyed I missed “Veil Of Maya“, “Mushroomhead“, “Darkest Hour“, “Miss May I” and “Texas Hippie Coalition“. Another setback was losing my photographer before the festival even started. She was having technical difficulties with her phone and I couldn’t reach her. So, on my own it was! I had a fantastic time, met some new friends in addition to running into so many of my friends already at the festival. Between sets I had a few beers with as many as I could find. My head did not appreciate the festivities the next day, I had a crazy beerover because the shenanigans continued after the show. A few of the bands on the bill I have already seen and covered but hey who could say no to another Avenged Sevenfold or Trivium set? For me this was exciting, I love seeing how bands progress, some do amazingly with refining their talents and some hit roadblocks because not everyone has the same drive. Suicide Silence was rocking a tune “Cease To Exist” off of their new release “You Can’t Stop Me” the first record with new vocalist Hernan “Eddie” Hermida. The band is: Chris Garza – Rhythm Guitar, Mark Heylmun – Lead Guitar, Alex Lopez – Drums and Dan Kenny on the Bass. The fans were loving the energy, perfect amount of guitar and angry growling for surfage…Crowd surfing that is! The security guards probably wanted to shoot themselves in the face (They did, I asked). Being in the front lines constantly pulling flying bodies from the crowd, never looks like a fun job. One of the security guards told me that they don’t look forward to country music shows the most because people get so hammered they start fighting everyone, including their friends. I’ll take his word for it because I wouldn’t know, I have only been to maybe four country shows and they were at smaller venues. Once I was satisfied with my one song shots, I migrated to the bridge between the Sumerian stage where Body Count was setting up and the Coldcock Whiskey stage to observe the performance. The following song in the seven track set was “Fuck Everything” from the 2011 record “Black Crown”, this is the song everyone needs to play when they’re having a bad day. Its always fun to watch the fans fly around and headbang to the bands. As the set was coming to an end, I kept seeing this one little Larry crowd surf over and over. When he popped out of the pit again, I heard him shout to his friend “let’s go again!” but his friend declined so he rewinded and dove right back in the crowd for another glide across the ocean of people. Body Count Frontman O.G Ice Mutha Fuckin T was up next and the fans at that stage were getting restless chanting “Body Count! Body Count!”. In case you only thought of IceT as the cop on Law & Order SVU, he’s the grandfather of rap/rock! He started his thrash metal career as frontman and co-founder of Body Count back in 1990, IceT has also dropped solo rap albums like “O.G Original Gangster” and the pre-Body Count days “Rhyme Pays”. The rest of the band is co-founder/Lead Guitar – Ernie C, Ill Will on the skins, Vincent Price on Bass, Juan Of The Dead – Rhythm Guitar. I’m tripping out right now! I found out IceT has the same birthday I do, he also has the same beauty mark on his face in the exact same spot as mine. Now it makes sense why people were asking me if I was his daughter at the festival, I could very well play his kid! If I didn’t know better, I would absolutely think he was my dad, he’s only a year older than my mom. Maybe that’s why at first Coco was looking at me like I stole her money, I look like his long lost daughter ha ha. But now I completely understand IceT, his whole obsession with rock, he’s probably drawn to the sound of the guitar like I am, his confidence and he likes blondes! I love blondie boys, although I’ve dated brunettes and gingers there’s something about blondes I like more. Wow, he was my Dad in past life for sure, we are different beings.As the band was finishing the gear setup, IceT’s gorgeous wife Coco popped out onto the stage with their two super cute bulldogs. I was more than happy to play with the dogs while fans took photos with Coco after the set. Never in my life did I think I would get the chance to cover or see Body Count live, never mind watching and listening to them cover a Slayer track (Disorder). The set started with old school tune “There Goes The Neighborhood” followed by “Bowels of The Devil” and before ending it off with the most controversial song in history “Cop Killer’, they dropped a newer tune “Talk Shit, Get Shot”. How ironic is it that IceT the man who created the track “Cop Killer” plays a cop on TV! I would love to check them out when they hit Toronto again, fantastic performance by the entire band, they brought it hard! The next band playing over at the Coldcock stage was Buffalo’s Cannibal Corpse, another veteran band I have never seen but more than glad to be checking out. Instantly I noticed the vocals weren’t very fluid in regards to diction, with Suicide Silence you could fully understand what he was singing but CC frontman George Fisher needs to clean it up a bit. Regardless, the band’s enthusiasm made up for it because they tore up that stage! I took as many shots possible so many photographers were in the pit, plus security and the continual flying bodies. I wasn’t about that life so I migrated to my little spot to watch the rest of their set. The band is: Alex Webster – Bass, Paul Mazurkiewicz – Drums, George Fisher – Vocals, Patrick O’Brien – Lead Guitar, Rob Barrett – Rhythm Guitar. I would check them out again if they reached Toronto and all metal fans should definitely give these guys a listen. Not only did I miss the six bands I wanted to see, didn’t catch any of the performances at the Victory stage either, had to keep reminding my ocd one person can only do so much. All of the side stages were wrapped by the time the mainstage was ready to be heated up by Trivium, who were breaking the ice. Surprisingly I have seen Trivium before, caught their set at Heavy T.O 2012 which was pretty good, this time around they were even more on point! They all looked like they were having fun, yes, a metal band was having fun! It was the trend of the evening for the mainstage bands, like everyone got laid and was in a fantastic mood. At first it was a little challenging to shoot the whole band because I couldn’t migrate freely, the pit was very crowded, seemed like there were more photographers than last year. Either way I still managed to get good shots, it just became increasingly difficult as the night progressed, by the time Korn hit the stage we could have created a photographer mosh pit. Obviously, some of the photographers were not supposed to be there but who am I to tell them to leave, that’s not my job. The set was very entertaining they even managed to get the crowd to participate, which is at times an extreme challenge with Toronto crowds. There were some pitch issues but his diction was perfect and at least Vox Matt Heafy wasn’t using a voice box like many others do. Corey Beaulieu rocked his axe all over the stage, utilizing it like every guitarist should. Paolo Gregoletto on Bass had some expression on his face this time, he wasn’t all stone faced. I even caught a smile but that shot was too blurry to use in the gallery. The beat was kept tight and steady by Mat Madiro but it was nothing too fancy. If you like metal music with meaning then you must check out Trivium, they threw down tunes like the opener “Black” the tune “Strife” and ended the set with “In Waves” one of my favorite Trivium tunes. Next on the bill was Asking Alexandria from England, they’ve been to Toronto before. I don’t remember seeing them but for some reason I have a feeling that I have. We will pretend like I haven’t because my memory does not recollect anything. The only clue is that Warped tour keeps popping into my head, so maybe that’s where I’ve seen them. Asking Alexandria is the brainchild of Lead Guitarist Ben Bruce, he first started the band with different members in Dubai before migrating back to England for a fresh start. The stage set up had these giant brightly lit A’s on each side of Drummer James Cassells, who immediately began smashing those cans once he got behind his kit. Asking Alexandria to me, was the easiest band to shoot that evening.
Frontman and co-founder Danny Worsnop was ready to rock with shades and a wobble. I’m surprised he didn’t fall into the crowd. Either way, vocally and performance wise he killed it! Wandering all over the stage, with his bandmates in tow actively helping him entertain the crowd. The fans were eating out of Worsnop’s hands, he was the only frontman of the night to get right in there at almost crowd level. Look wise, he kind of reminded me of a young Chris Jericho of Fozzy and yes, the wrestler…Interviewed him a few years back (Click to watch).
Of all the bands I had seen up to this point in the day Worsnop had the best vocals and the band as a whole has impeccable chemistry on stage. So much talent for such a young bunch of Larries. I have seen bands ten years their senior who still haven’t figured out how to put on a show. Rhythm Guitarist Cameron Liddell was very laid back but he still had his skill and swagger, as did Bassist Sam Bettley. I guess there’s a reason these lads have been making waves on the scene, with their catchy melodic metalcore, I can see why. Go see these guys rock any stage it will be worth your time, I look forward to covering them again in the future.
At this festival everyone who had lawn seats got lucky like Daft Punk! They were all upgraded to the 300’s section, which made it a full house and looked pretty cool. Even though nobody was on the lawns there were way more people in attendance than last year for sure! The People who would have been on lawns were drinking away at Beerfest across the bridge at the CNE fairgrounds. I passed by for a minute to visit with friends after the show and was to cover the event the following day. But…Due to solving my technical issues I couldn’t make it, I was mucho sad because I had been looking forward to it all year! And, I wanted to see the Trews! Back to this festival, for the next band I couldn’t have been more excited than I was. On the outside I was the usual totally cool Fridae but inside I was teenying out hardcore! This band I could never see because I was like nine when they first emerged onto the scene. And, do you really thing my Sensei Father let me go to a rock concert? He didn’t even let me sleepover at my friends house next door! I only really got to know their music because my first high school boyfriend was obsessed with them. Randal was one of those “rebellious rich kids” who had a Korn patch and button on his backpack and probably still is a huge fan! Who knows, he may have been at the show. Always has been my ex boyfriends who have introduced me to rock music in my teen years. My Dad was into the old school classics like Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Queen, Genesis, The Police etc. And I love R&B, Soul, Rap. As for Korn, I have not had the opportunity to experience them live and to have the chance to watch and listen to some of my favorite tracks was incredible! Covering the band was the icing on the cake. As elated as I was for their set, one thing I was praying for was that Korn would be good live. So many bands and artists I’ve been a fan of that I have covered were horrendous live. The moment of truth was upon us, would they blow my mind or totally blow and turn me off the band completely? The answer is…They were mindblasting! I loved every minute of Korn’s set and they truly showed their veteran skills off! The first to hit the stage was drummer Ray Luzier, he sat down and counted the rest of the band straight into the “Molested” intro, before they rocked the first track of the set “Falling Away From Me”. That tune was followed by “Twist” one of my favorites from the record “Life Is Peachy”. I was trying my best to get the cleanest shots possible in this media pit frenzie. Some faces I recognized others I didn’t and definitely can’t keep up with all of these new media outlets. I don’t pay attention to the competitors but I know most of them have grabbed a few ideas and words from me. Frontman Jonathan Davis is in surprisingly decent shape for a man of his age, and sang well enough to retain me as a fan. There were times in the set I thought his mic stand was going to go flying when he really got into a song but I think it was shellacked on the stage or something because it stayed. From a critics perspective, a frontman with Davis’s experience should know how to build more of a connection with the audience, engage with the people a little more, they are there to see you, talk to them. At least Davis was visibly enjoying himself, throwing smiles at the fans here and there between songs. I remember seeing another favorite band and the singer was in a corner by himself the whole set, that was a huge disappointment. Guitars by Brian “Head” Welch and James “Munky” Schaffer were fantastic, dreads were flying everywhere! I love the sound of electric guitars, that is what drew me to rock music. There’s something about the resonance of an electric guitar played by a true Axemaster that my ears can’t get enough of. The more guitars the merrier, as long as they are played well because if there were three of me playing the electric guitar, everyone would cringe and start throwing things at us as they booed. On the other hand, when you have the Axemasters in Korn rocking their tunes in your face, who can complain? I certainly can’t, even as a critic because they brought it! Their dexterity was more than obvious and absolutely amazing to listen to and watch. I wish all of my friends were there because concerts are always way more fun with friends than alone. Bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu was flying around everywhere and then there were these random times where he just stood there taking in the crowd. Don’t know why he hasn’t been in a “Pirates of the Carribbean” film yet, he looks like he would blend right in as the perfect pirate. Hopefully I will one day get to see Korn rock out again, my favorite moment was when they played “Freak On A Leash” just before closing the set with “Blind”. “Freak On A Leash” is one of my all time favorite songs in history. If any of you rock and metal fans get the chance to see Korn live, take it and go, you will be glad you did! Mayhem fest is still on the road, check out the website here for the remaining tour dates. The day kept getting better of course, it was my day, Friday and good things always come to me on Fridays. There was still one band left to rock the stage, one of my favorite bands to date and the headliners of the 2014 Rockstar Energy Mayhem festival…Avenged Sevenfold!Not too many bands out there that I can say I would watch more than once. However, Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Lincoln Park, Finger Eleven, and The Trews, to name a few are the ones I could watch perform over and over without getting bored. Their music and live sets are that good, especially after you see Finger Eleven guitarist Rick Jackett in action you will be spoiled, no other guitarist that I have experienced is at that level of phenomenal. Love seeing bands that I have previously covered develop more into their talents, Avenged Sevenfold is a primo example of hard work paying off. Last time I saw these guys they needed to work on various things. The minute I saw them fire up that stage and hearing Synyster Gates drop that riff I was more than pleased. Guitarists Zacky Vengence and Synyster Gates were comfortable as soon as they hit the stage, past sets they’ve come off as shy and sad. Clearly they were both having a good day because they were smiling all over the place, much different than the somber mope. The skill level in their Axe play has improved tremendously as has their audience interaction, although they still need some work in that area. Keep up the good work guys! Backup vocals were excellent, definitely enjoyed hearing and watching them play, especially with all of those guitar solo’s! Music to my ears couldn’t be a truer saying. Every time I cover A7X I look forward to seeing the stage set up and how they’re going to use spectacular pyro! You can always count on A7X to deliver some awesome fire, they had random blasts from behind the drum kit lighting up across the stage. It was too cool, I love shooting bands with wicked fire! A pyro I am, my favorite film for the longest time as a kid was “Firestarter” starring Drew Barrymore. Bassist Johnny Christ was doing his thing, compared to his bandmates, I noticed he connected more with the audience. They all did exceptionally well putting on a show for the fans. Newbie drummer Arin Ilejay was stick handling like his life depended on it, if he was to save the world by drumming, I believe he could save us! M.Shadows on vox was not so great vocally the last time I saw them, this time was a completely different story! As soon as Sanders started in with the first tune “Shepherd of Fire” from the 2013 release “Hail To The King” he came in strong and kept that power for majority of the set. I even noticed some improvements with his range, especially on the softer tunes. As he gets more comfortable singing without growling, his range will continue to expand. Sing some R&B tunes when rehearsing by mimicking the vocals, it will give your vocal range a boost the more you practice. It doesn’t matter what genre you sing, having more of a vocal range enhances your ability. A few producers I’ve met with assumed because I have such a large vocal range my sound was going to be Mariahesq, filled with vocal gymnastics…I am not Christina Aguilera, I don’t need to show off my range. I sound like me and don’t over use runs, my flexible range helps me sing intricate songs and keeps my vocals in shape. The second tune of the set was another enjoyable sonata to my ears “Nightmare”, I love the riffs so haunting, it reminds me of “Nightmare on Elm Street” for some reason and not because the track is called “Nightmare”! The films could have used this song, it would have been perfect but these guys were in diapers when the original films were made. Right out of the gate it was an awesome performance, the crowd sang along to every song, definitely a good night for everyone. The last tune I was in the pit for was one of my favorites, it was the first Avenged Sevenfold tune I had ever heard; “Bat Country”. The newest single “This Means War” was the last before the encores “A Little Piece Of Heaven” and “Unholy Confessions” which closed the set with more pyro and a few explosions. If you have not seen or heard these guys yet, you should do yourself a huge favour and check them out as soon as possible. Absolutely would love to cover Avenged Sevenfold again and maybe do an interview. Funniest thing I heard all night was when a female fan kept yelling “Put your dick in my mouth! I want to put your dick in my mouth!” when M. Shadows was on one of the risers to my left. I was dying and couldn’t hold a steady shot until I got the laughs out of my system. Major shout out to all the behind the scenes people who made this festival run on schedule, without their experience and precision many things could have gone wrong. The crowd was a little sad that the show was over but some didn’t even make it through to the end…They were either dragged out by security or passed out in their seat. So funny were the people that wandered this years Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, there were a few Larries asking the popo’s to take pictures with them like they were being cuffed, it was so amusing to watch. The festival is still on tour, all of the bands are worth your time so go see them!! Check the photos below, I had the best time! Thank you to everyone who made this possible, I was fully entertained! See you next year! www.RockstarMayhemFest.com