Which Mayhem Festival Band Do Parents Hate Most?
The biggest traveling heavy metal festival of the summer rolls into the Woodlands Pavilion tonight. The annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival has stepped its game up significantly in 2012, dropping metal titans Slipknot, Slayer, Anthrax, Motorhead and more onto Houston's well-groomed northern suburb like so many canisters of napalm. There will be screaming, there will be pushing and shoving and there will almost certainly be some illicit drug-taking.
Photo by Groovehouse Slayer's Tom Araya at Bayou Music Center in 2010
Basically, it's going to be chock full of all of the things that concern parents about rock concerts.
Which is kind of the point, of course. Bands like Slayer and Slipknot have cultivated a sound and image designed to shock and repulse parents, giving kids (and the young at heart) some much-needed space.
This fest promises to be crowded with skulls, pentagrams, Nazi imagery, blood and middle fingers, and that's just at the T-shirt tent. Everything will be deliberately ear-splitting, rude and decidedly anti-parent. But which act will top the others by annoying the most parents?
To find out, I decided to ask the experts: My own parents. For the most part, they're open-minded, tolerant people, but heavy metal was an issue growing up under their roof.
Like a lot of parents of their generation, they were appalled and concerned by the sexism and gore made to seem omnipresent in the genre by Tipper Gore's book Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society as well as her efforts with the PMRC. Records with parental advisory stickers were frowned upon in our household, and album covers full of Satanic imagery (like Slayer's!) definitely did not fly.
My mom and dad have been married for 40 years or so, and I don't think they've missed a Sunday in church in all that time. They're supportive, loving and entirely square. Basically, they're exactly who the Mayhem Festival bands take pleasure in frightening and offending. (Draw your own conclusions as to why I love metal so much.)
So I asked them this question: Which of the following Mayhem Fest bands do you find the most intolerable? Partly for science. And partly because I found the idea of subjecting my mom to "Raining Blood" to be hilarious.
Slayer, "Raining Blood"
What better band to set the bar for this discussion than Slayer? The group's aggressive thrash sound and Nazi/occult shock imagery have been used to piss off parents for three decades now. Getting caught with their CDs in junior high would have been bad news for me, indeed.
Rocks Off: So give me your impression.
Dad: "My impression is that I can't understand a word they're saying. (laughs). Not one word, except I did think I caught "blood" one time. I did notice during the song that it looked like it was raining something and they get kind of oiled down with something red and drippy. But that's about it!"
RO: That was the raining blood, Dad. Did Mom watch it?
Dad: "She watched some of it. She didn't like it. She liked the guy's hair!"
Mom: "I thought (singer Tom Araya's) hair was cute and boyish and endearing. I want to ask, though, how much of the song was degrading to women?" (nervously chuckles)
RO: I don't think any of it was degrading to women, specifically.
Mom: "Well a lot of it is, I hear! (laughs) But there was a lot of energy to it. It looks like they're having fun. I couldn't understand a single word of it, of course..."