Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at The Woodlands, 8/3/2013
Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival
Photos by Jim Bricker Five Finger Death Punch cools down the Pavilion crowd
Feat. Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon, Amon Amarth, etc.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 3, 2013
On Saturday, I couldn't quite decide which was more brutal: 20 metal bands in one afternoon, or your average Houston summer. Maybe it's because my brain started to cook, but after a while it got hard not to let the two stimuli run together into a singular heaviness at this year's Mayhem Fest up in the Woodlands. A lot of it's kind of a hairy, sweaty blur now after the fact. Healthy!
If there's one thing I do remember clearly, it's the hiking. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion does not have a great festival setup. To reach the side stage from the main amphitheater, concertgoers were forced to exit the building from the South entrance and walk around the venue to an adjoining parking lot with a stage on it. In triple-digit temperatures, it wasn't all that pleasant. Pity the drunks.
That was in addition to the traditional hike through the woods from the parking lot, obviously, but I digress. Point is, the heat made me hate walking, so when the seats opened up, I was happy to plant myself and stay put under the shade. These were the bands people came to see, anyway! You'd be surprised how easy it was to tell myself that and believe it.
A band I certainly wanted to see was Amon Amarth. They don't really like to be called "Viking metal" due to the vagaries of Scandinavian metal identity politics. But it's hard not to mention "Viking metal" when you talk about Amon Amarth, because "Viking metal" is literally the perfect descriptor for this band. They're a melodic death-metal band from Sweden, they write songs about the Thunder God and their drum riser is a Viking longship. Come on.
They're also pretty much tailor-made for metal festivals. Amon Amarth plays pumping, energetic music perfected over 20 years for pouding beers and hailing Satan. Or Odin, I guess, but somebody was getting hailed hard Saturday. They showed off some riffs from their new album, Deceiver of the Gods," but the older song "Death In Fire" was my favorite of the set. Probably what a Houston summer feels like to a Swede.
Next up was a personal favorite, the mighty Mastodon. It's been nearly two years since the release of their last album, The Hunter, and I hadn't heard any of the new material live yet. Lucky me, they played damn near the whole record.
Brann Dailor bashed the hell out of his kit on great tunes like "Dry Bone Valley" and "Blasteroid." "Black Tongue" was another highlight. Halfway through their set, the sun started to set. As the temps relented a bit, I climbed up the hill and lay back, reveling in Mastodon's heavy, spacey Floyd fixation with eyes firmly shut. God, why don't more bands use a Theremin?