2014 Mayhem Fest Part One: Asking Alexandria, Miss May I, and more (Review)

Danny Worsnop with Asking Alexandria performs during the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on August 10, 2014 in The Woodlands, Texas. Photo © Manuel Nauta

Danny Worsnop with Asking Alexandria at The Woodlands / Photo © Manuel Nauta

The Woodlands, TX – August 10, 2014. In the picturesque and nearly ostentatious Houston suburb The Woodlands, a motley crew of metal heads, substance abusers, and angst-filled hard rock acolytes converged for a day long high-octane music fest.  In what might be the longest title and location for a show — 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion — nearly 14,000 people crammed themselves into the two stage set up on the fest’s last day of tour duty.

That oppressive ball of nuclear fusion in the sky was in full force, but that didn’t stop anyone from adhering to the strict dress code for the black tee event.  The walking fashion show featured tops with skull encased band logos, pro-marijuana attitudes, and vulgar phrases that would make a morally corrupt Ozzy blush.  Leather masks that went over jaws and noses — a la Hannibal Lector — were inexplicably trending as well on this steamy Sunday.

The gender ratio was one bikini-and-cutoffs-clad woman for every 666th drunken man.  Ok, it wasn’t lacking that much diversity, but as with most metal shows, female rockers were noticeably absent from stage — this issue is changing with growth in popularity with acts like Butcher Babies, Mortillery, and Austin’s Ume.

Mushroomhead at The Woodlands / Photo © Manuel Nauta

Mushroomhead at The Woodlands / Photo © Manuel Nauta

I made my way to the Coldcock Whiskey side stage where I saw nine-piece masked industrial metal band Mushroomhead. Drums with water-splashing effects every time the skins were slapped, rap-sung-scream deliveries, and blunt basslines made for a mosh-worthy set.  “Our Apologiesand “Empty Spaces/Born of Desiredid the most in the aggression expelling department–with the latter seeing a couple of guised band members body surf.

You don’t stick around for two decades like Mushroomhead without a dedicated following, and though some heat-indifference could be felt halfway back from the stage, the group’s live performance is as rock steady as it’s ever been.

Mushroomhead with guest singer at The Woodlands / Photo © Manuel Nauta

Mushroomhead with guest singer at The Woodlands / Photo © Manuel Nauta

There was extreme deathcore energy and an antagonistic demeanor from Emmures lead singer Frankie Palmeri. Emmure assaulted the crowd with pillaging riffs, vexed groans, and unabashed angst.  In textbook divisive Emmure’s fashion, “Bring A Gun To Schoolwas focused on sending shockwaves rather than going for shock value, which it achieved.

The crowd embraced the bitter nu-metal moments of “Most Hated.”  Love or hate Emmure–it’s worth googling the band to read the laundry list of online disdain thrown their way–the band does whatever it wants and on this day they wanted to “fuck shit up” as they would say–and did.

(L-R) Mike Mulholland , Frankie Palmeri, Adam Pierce and Mark Davis with Emmure / Photo © Manuel Nauta

(L-R) Mike Mulholland , Frankie Palmeri, Adam Pierce and Mark Davis with Emmure / Photo © Manuel Nauta

The highlight of the Coldcock Whiskey speakers and scaffolding area was Miss May I.  A 25-minute concert suspension due to thunderstorms–which never came–couldn’t stop this metalcore band’s unadulterated willingness to rock.  Frontman Levi Benton plays the part of conductor well.  He stops on a dime when going from guttural death rattle to clean vocals while the band is consistently playing at break-guitar-necks speed.

Relentless Chaosboasted video game shredding and contagious hooks.  Day By Dayteetered on screamo at times, but finished heavier than it started.  After the precipitation-free rain delay, “Gonesaw a man leave the stage in a blue elephant costume–and a GoPro strapped to his chest–and led a mobile circle pit around the premises.  Before a “Hero With No Name,” Miss May I asked for members of the military to raise their hands so we could all praise them and thank them with a beer on us. 

Levi Benton with Miss May I at The Woodlands / Photo © Manuel Nauta

Levi Benton with Miss May I at The Woodlands / Photo © Manuel Nauta

After a trip to the press tent for interviews, I unfortunately was only able to catch one song of Cannibal Corpse, and a stanza of Trivium. The consensus of the few people I asked was that Cannibal Corpse was aggressive, and Trivium put on a helluva performance. 

Matt Heafy (L) and Corey Beaulieu with Trivium at The Woolands / Photo © Manuel Nauta

Matt Heafy (L) and Corey Beaulieu with Trivium at The Woolands / Photo © Manuel Nauta

Now it was time to move to the amphitheater. 

A drum solo kicked off Asking Alexandrias set as the English metal act sauntered onto the floorboards while the largest response heard up until this point was given.  The sociopathic “Don’t Pray For Megot everyone singing to the canopy during the melodic chorus and scathing during the pulsing verses.  “Run Freewas an anathematic luxury most had not yet been afforded that day.

Acoustic axe in hand for the power ballad “Moving On,” it was clear that there practically wasn’t any style of rock singing that Danny Worsnop couldn’t croon.  Introspection, bpm blasting, and sorrowful riffs in “The Death Of Mebeautifully put a button on a stirring set.

(see additional photos on our Facebook Page)

Check out part two for a Korn interview, and Avenged Sevenfold review.

Review by Donny Rodriguez