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I’ve been to many concerts: country, heavy metal, blues and even a few rap concerts. I like almost all types of music and typically enjoy seeing groups perform live.
Despite the various shows I’ve seen, I had never been to a music festival until the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival came to Albuquerque. I wasn’t quite sure how long the festival would last, or exactly what to expect. I did know this: in addition to the main stage at the Hard Rock Pavilion, there would be two additional stages on which various bands would perform.
The lineup was packed with heavy metal bands — some well-known and others that were not so well-known. Slipknot headlined the show, but there was much more entertainment for the crowd before they took the stage.
The Sumerian Records stage featured Upon a Burning Body, I The Breather and Dirtfedd. The Jagermeister stage featured As I Lay Dying, Asking Alexandria, White Chapel and Anthrax, while The Devil Wears Prada, Motorhead, Slayer and Slipknot graced the main stage.
The beginning of the festival was rocky. Hundreds of people streamed into the venue, quickly clogging the areas in front of the merchandise booths, hoping to buy T-shirts.
Mother Nature must have seen the crowds and decided to disburse them because at least one stand was forced to close down because of strong wind gusts.
One need only follow the sound of pounding drums and screaming electric guitar to figure out where the action was. Between the main stage area and the area behind the food vendors, there were various booths lining either side of the lot, selling everything from belt buckles and rings to clothing, hats and various other items. Beyond that area were more vendors and the Jagermeister and Sumerian Records stages.
There were people everywhere and when it started to rain, some scattered, seeking shelter, while others stood in the rain listening to the bands. The show was rain or shine, so the music kept getting cranked out despite the nasty weather. Not expecting such a downpour, I was forced to purchase a flimsy plastic poncho in hopes of keeping myself somewhat dry.
I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of some of the bands like Upon a Burning Body, I The Breather, Dirtfedd, White Chapel and Asking Alexandria. They all shared one thing in common, however: death metal vocals and super fast, mind-boggling guitar and drums.
I was more familiar with Motorhead, Slayer and Anthrax. I later found out that I was also familiar with Slipknot, but I didn’t know it before I heard them.
The bands took turns playing at the Sumerian Records stage and the Jagermeister stage. As one band would finish at one stage, the crowd would trek across the lot to the other stage, in anticipation of the next band. The transition was swift and set as well as band changes happened quickly.
And so it went for the entire afternoon. We all made our way from the Jagermeister stage to the Sumerian stage and back again, until Anthrax came on. They were the last band to play in that area. A huge mosh pit broke out and people were being helped out as they became injured. I kept to the back of the crowd, preferring to stay against the fence rather than get involved.
Following Anthrax’s performance, everyone began moving toward the main stage, where thankfully, there was seating. After standing for several hours, being able to sit down was wonderful.
The Devil Wears Prada took the stage first. People were still milling around, buying food, drinks and merchandise before taking their seats. Motorhead went on next and played well-known songs like “Ace of Spades,” “Going to Brazil” and “Killed by Death.” Though they drew a bigger crowd than The Devil Wears Prada, it was still not as large as the one Slayer drew when they took to the stage. Their set was even louder and faster than the first two, but nothing less would be expected of Slayer. The crowd went wild when they played old favorites like “Angel of Death,” “South of Heaven,” “War Ensemble” and “Reign in Blood.” Mosh pits broke out in the lawn seating area, drawing the attention of the crowd that had regular seats. Spectators turned around to watch.
Despite the enthusiasm the crowd showed for Motorhead and Slayer, it was nothing compared to what happened when Slipknot made their appearance. I turned around to find the lawn seating area flooded with people. Those in regular seats clogged the aisle area as they jockeyed for a position, closer to the action. Some nodded their heads to the music, while others screamed and some danced in the aisles. The crowd was rowdy and Slipknot’s set was amazing.
Pyrotechnics were abundant, so flames shot up from the stage at regular intervals. Clad in identical jumpsuits and various masks, the seven members infused the crowd with energy. Band member Jim Root did not play in Albuquerque because he was recovering from a burst appendix.
Front man Corey Taylor jumped around the stage and encouraged the crowd to get louder. The band opened with “(sic),” which resulted in roars from concertgoers.
People really lost their minds when the band played “Before I Forget.” The number of those in attendance seemed to have doubled, as people crowded together, in hopes of getting a better view of Slipknot. In all they belted out a dozen songs, with two encore songs. By the end of the show, everyone seemed satisfied with their metal fix as they flowed out of the Pavilion and to their vehicles.
It was definitely a unique experience and one that will not soon be forgotten. The unpredictable weather just seemed to add to it all and despite the rain, it seems like everyone had a good time.