Gas Monkey Live! will celebrate its grand opening on October 11th with a performance from legendary punk band Social Distortion. The new 2500+ capacity live music venue will feature a diverse array of the top touring artists from around the world. Bands already slated to take the stage at Gas Monkey Live! over the coming months include GWAR,…

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- Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by James Villa -


A day after Labor Day does seem like an odd day to have a festival, considering school is getting back in session, and if you’re not preoccupied with that, then you’re probably busy at your place of employment. However, this was exactly the day the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival was stopping at Verzion Wireless Theater in Grand Prairie.

Luck of the draw. After all, some cities have to host it in the middle of the week, though that didn’t seem like much of a deterrent to the people of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

It was about halfway through the three-o’clock hour when I arrived; and the first handful of bands, from the Dallas-based Soilce (who had won a battle of the bands competition to earn the opening spot), to Sons of Revelry and Within Reason had all seemed to whip the crowd up. A crowd that consisted of people who most likely were ditching middle or high school for the day, while others probably took a “sick day” from their job so they could make the most of Uproar. You’ve got to enjoy life, right?

The parking lot in front of the building was all fenced in, with a stage set up along with all the vendors, and it was teeming with life. However, everyone was searching for any modicum of shade they could find. In fact, plenty of people set on the benches at the top of the steps near the entrance to the actual theater, choosing to enjoy the bands from afar and keep cooler.

Those openers may have engaged everyone, but the near hundred degree temperatures were still taking a toll on peoples energy.

Still, everyone put their game face on when Escape the Fate took the stage. “Come on Texas, make some fucking noise…” roared Craig Mabbitt once they got up there; and he did his best to get even those on the steps to come down and fully enjoy the show, which they got going with “You’re Insane”.

Their 33-minute long set didn’t allow much downtime, and as they went right into “Issues”, lead guitarist Kevin Gruft waved his hands up and down, encouraging everyone to do some bouncing, something part of the crowd was happy to do. They did allow time to build a bit of a rapport with the crowd in between all their hard rock songs, though, and afterwards, Mabbitt jokingly asked why everyone had shown up so early. “…Were your couches at home not comfy enough?” he asked, sounding legitimately perplexed why some of these folks would brave the heat like this.

Drummer Robert Ortiz used the brief break during “Gorgeous Nightmare” to stand up from his seat and bang on his kit; and as it drew to a close, much of the audience began jumping around. They were feeling it by this point, as was the band, who really seemed to hit their stride with “Fire it Up”. Gruft played a killer solo, heavily using the whammy bar on it; while bassist Alex Torres and fellow guitarist TJ Bell raced around the stage.

Upon finishing it, Mabbitt had some fun at Gruft’s expense, saying Kevin wanted to meet everyone, “Especially the guys. Just write your name down on the list and he’ll get to you,” Mabbitt laughed.

It was here you really got to see the toll the heat had taken, and while a circle pit was started during “Ungrateful”, much of the crowd backed off to avoid it completely. The same happened when playing what was their closer, “This War is Ours (The Guillotine II)”. Mabbitt quipped that this was a rock show, not a Justin Bieber concert, and he wanted to see a wall of death. When it finally happened, the wall consisted of only three people from each side rushing one another; while the band ended in pure rock fashion, with Mabbitt swinging the mic in the air, then letting the cord wrap tightly around his neck. When he removed it, he then slung it around his hand.

The five-piece delivered a great set, powering though the elements as if they were nothing. Then again, as Mabbitt said during their performance, “If you don’t like the heat, then you should just get the fuck out of Texas.”

Buckcherry wrapped up the outdoor festivities.


Josh Todd cared more about the rock star image than the blistering heat from the sun that now hung directly overhead. He wore a long sleeve shirt for the first few numbers; and after wailing on “Lit Up”, he checked to make sure everyone was holding up alright, before the pace got taken to a more intense level with “Dead Again”.

Before the fourth track, he took his shirt off, then mentioned the new EP they had recently released, titled Fuck. “You know when you’re still innocent and then realize everyone’s full of some shit?” he asked, drawing a reaction of cheers from the crowd. “Somebody Fucked with Me” was one of a couple songs that had a “I don’t care” attitude to it, as was seen when much of the onlookers waved their middle fingers about in the air at the behest of Todd.

He and guitarists Keith Nelson and Stevie D., bassist Kelly LeMieux and drummer Xavier Muriel seemed just as much at home playing slower songs like “Everything” and “Sorry”, though, too. The latter of those was dedicated to all the ladies in attendance. Their take on Icona Pop’s “I Don’t Care”, (which was dubbed “I Don’t Care (Say Fuck it)”) also seemed to get fans going; and at the start, Todd jumped around in circles back by the drum kit.


“It’s hotter than the devils dick in a Texas whore house,” Todd laughed shortly before a partial cover of AC/DC’s “Big Balls”, which was all of one chorus. Along with their older stuff, they did one more cut off the new EP, “I Don’t Give a Fuck”, before concluding their 47-minute long set with what else, but “Crazy Bitch”.

Their fans were very much into it all, but at the same time, you could tell most people were eager for them to finish so they could relish the cool air that would surround them once inside the venue.

Buckcherry, perhaps, would have been better suited for the indoors, where their sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll persona could have fully sunk its teeth into everyone there. It still infected much of the crowd, though; and the band went full throttle from the time they stepped on stage right up to the final note.

Originally, These Raven Skies were also on the bill, but trouble obtaining visas had prevented the Canadians from making it, meaning Pop Evil would be the first band on the indoor stage.

People slowly trickled in, filling much of the seats in the 100, 200 and 300 sections. Even the 400 level in the balcony was pretty crowded, especially by nights end.

The fans down in the pit had gotten pretty anxious by the time 6:15 rolled around, and were quite glad when Chachi Riot walked out and took a seat behind the drum kit. He immediately began twirling one of the drum sticks between his fingers, while his band mates slowly made their way on stage.


The commanding, even atmospheric “Last Man Standing” got their set going; and often during that track the skilled drummer would stand up from his seat, even making some faces at the crowd as he smashed the cymbals and drums. As frontman Leigh Kakaty roamed about, you quickly noticed the GoPro camera attached to the base of the microphone, which was aimed out at the crowd.

The band got a clap along going at the start of “Goodbye My Friend”; and once Kakaty asked to see some fists, plenty shot up in the air and were pumped to the beat. They were covering ground now, and wound that right into the thick rhythm intro that “Sick Sense” has. Once it took off, bassist Matt DiRito, and guitarists Davey Grahs and Nick Fuelling began racing about the stage, and all did great jobs of playing to everyone, making sure they were never in one place too long and that the crowd on each side got a look at them.

“Come on, Dallas! Stand up!” Kakaty shouted before “Torn to Pieces”; and on the emotional song, he changed one of the lines to, “Texas, let’s drink it away.” “Deal with the Devil” was probably the best song of their set, at least in terms of being the one that got the audience most excited. There was plenty of singing along going on; while Riot again got on his feet, striking some cymbals before grabbing them to silence them. Kakaty dedicated their final song to all the men and women who were serving their country, and also offered a toast to all those Texans who showed up early to rock shows. “Trenches” was the song; and there was one more cool moment, where Riot bounced a drum stick off a tom, catching it when it ricocheted back at him.


This was the third time I’ve seen Pop Evil, and it’s all been within the last three months, at a couple other festivals in the region. This was the best show of those three. They were impeccably tight, and had the show worked down to a science almost. It was like clockwork, yet was still totally organic.

They definitely provided and excellent way to kick off the second portion of the day.

The stage got set for Skillet; and when it was time for the band to hit the stage, all the lights went out. It was pitch black, but soon two figures wearing robes made their way out. They were Jonathan Chu and Tate Olsen on the violin and cello, respectively, and they created a very grand, orchestral intro.


Jen Ledger waved and smiled at everyone as she headed for the drum kit, and then lead guitarist Seth Morrison, rhythm guitarist Korey Cooper and singer and bassist John Cooper gradually made their way on stage, and then exploded into “Whispers in the Dark”. Their 39-minute long set was executed with near non-stop action; and during that opener, John jumped onto one of the boxes they had on stage and used the ol’ standby windmill style to play his bass.

Their show got more theatrical during their second song, which featured heavy use of some jets of smoke that sprayed up into the air, before settling as it billowed out in the faces of the audience members. “Everybody has something that you’re sick of. Maybe it’s your job… Maybe it’s addiction…” he said, getting more serious. He ditched his bass before “Sick of it”; embodying the frontman persona as he ran and jumped all over the stage, while leading the fans in a sing along on each chorus.

Fans raved when they realized the band was beginning “Hero”; and the backing vocals Ledger added into the mix sounded awesome. She showed off more of her voice later on during “Awake and Alive”, which began more acoustically, with Ledger joining the rest of the band on the forefront of the stage. The co-singing sounded remarkable, even when she returned to her kit once things picked up. However, even better than that was when Korey and Morrison each raced up some stairs to platforms that were on either side of the kit. A bar in a semi-circle kept them secure as the platforms began to rise into the air, then lower some. They continued moving for the duration of the track.


They had been making the most of their time; unleashing song after song on the people’s ears, but now, John took time to connect with the spectators. He mentioned Texas was his favorite state, a fact he said he makes known every time they do a show in these borders. He continued chatting after the title track from their latest release, Rise; and when one guy yelled, “I love you!” at the them, he looked at the guy, “I love you, too, man.” They were all loving every single second they were spending up there on that stage, and that affirmed it.

Things then took a funny turn, when he acknowledged that some of the crowd might be thinking that Skillet was the “dumbest band name ever.” “I do not disagree,” he said, before offering a simple explanation for why they got that name: “It was the nineties.” “…The stupider the band name, the better the band,” and that was something everyone completely understood.

“Monster” was another track that got a huge rise from the audience; and plenty more smoke filled the front of the stage during it. Before finishing, John thanked everyone, including the other bands on the bill, along with who he said was his “number one hero”, Jesus Christ. With that, they capped off this amazing performance with “Rebirthing”; and those platforms were again used, this time primarily with the violinist and celli.

Skillet wound up being my personal favorite band of the day. You just had to marvel at the energy they poured into this. It was beyond impressive.

They’ve perfected the live show aspect of a performance, and it’s clear they still know they’re there to entertain the ticket holders, and boy, do they entertain.

Seether took a different approach to it all, and didn’t waste any of the time they were given on banter. Right from the start of “Gasoline” they had nearly the whole room singing along with them, and the fans’ dedication never wavered. Their segues were often made pretty lengthy when they did some guitar changes at times, and when they did, haste was not a necessity.

Their newest single, “Words as Weapons”, proved to have already been well received by fans, who sang with Shaun Morgan right from the opening line, “All I really want is something beautiful to say…”; while John Humphrey showed off his talents on the drums during “Fine Again”, where he tossed one of the sticks high into the air. “Thank you very much,” Morgan said at the very end, which was one of the few times he spoke to the audience this night.

Still bridging the songs into one another, Humphrey and lead guitarist Bryan Wickmann left the stage, while bassist Dale Stewart swapped to a guitar. They had made room in their set for “Broken”, and the tender song that is tinged with heartache made for the coolest moment of their set. “Because I’m broken when I’m lonesome…” the fans sang on the chorus, echoing every single word of the whole song, to the point it often rivaled Morgans’ voice.

The full band returned for “Tonight”, and Stewart hopped onto one of their boxes, throwing his hand into the air and putting up his horns, causing several more horns to go up. They continued to get the audience involved in one way or another, like clap alongs; and before wrapping it up, Morgan remarked how good it was to be back in Dallas. With that, they ended with “Remedy”; and right at the very end, Morgan pulled away from his mic stand, hitting it with the neck of his guitar and sending it spinning around and around.


They then took some time to throw out drumsticks and picks, staying out there a minute or more after they finished, giving some lucky fans some memorabilia to take home.

This was an excellent show, even better than what I remembered them doing at a festival back over Memorial Day weekend. They were totally in the zone, and owned the stage as well as the audience’s attention for every moment of their 50-minute set.

They also served as definitive proof that rock shows can be performed in multiple ways. You don’t necessarily need to chitchat with the crowd to make them enjoy the performance more. If you’re solid, you can just play your songs without interruption, and people will love it.

When it came time for Godsmack, the headliner had a video play beforehand. The video was footage of them, and it was set to the classic, “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”. The highlight for this crowd came when a few seconds of “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott was shown.


Some lights shown onto the curtain that covered the stage, and one by one, you could see the silhouettes of all three members on the front of the stage.

The nearly twenty-year-old band got their show off to a powerhouse start with “Generation Day” and “Cryin’ Like a Bitch”, mixing one seamlessly into the other. “Good evening, Dallas…” Sully Erna shouted over the applause and screams. He noted he should probably say Grand Prairie instead, “but we’re close enough,” he laughed.

Erna mentioned it had been a long time, having gone four years in-between releases, and made clear they would be doing both old songs and new ones, something they thought every fan would be able to appreciate and respect. “…I’m not going to talk a whole lot…” he concluded, confessing he had, had some tequila shots and just didn’t have much to say.

That was okay, ‘cause much like the act before them, the music can speak for itself. “What’s Next?” was another taste of new music the band offered up; and the technical difficulty Erna suffered during it resulted in him having to change guitars in the middle of the track, which surprisingly, was no major setback. “Is it the only thing for me!” he roared at the end, holding “me” for several seconds, which highlighted his impressive pipes.

As they rolled into “Locked and Loaded”; a series of massive flames shot into the air. You could feel the intense heat they emitted as soon as you saw each one. In fact, it was kind of nice, because I had started getting cold in there. Longtime fans rejoiced when drummer Shannon Larkin wound them into “Keep Away”, while “The Enemy” turned into a sort of sing along, at least on the chorus.


The stage setup was pretty cool. A set of massive stairs were on either side of the stage, leading up to a platform in the center where a mic stand was placed. The lights went out, and the next time the crowd was able to see, Erna now stood on that top platform. Bassist Robbie Merrill and lead guitarist Tony Rombola stood on the stairway on either side during what Erna stated would most likely be their next single, “Something Different”.

“Texas, are we awake yet?!” Erna asked during another classic of theirs, “Awake”. It was evident people were, especially with all the moshing that had been going on occasionally for the last several songs. More pyrotechnics were used at the end, first in the form of some flames that were more like flash bangs, while the final one was a loud burst that I think made everyone jump out of surprise.

The event that pushed the energy level to new heights was the duel drum solo/battle between Erna and Larkin. It was an epic couple of minutes; and then the solo gave way to “Whatever”.

By the time they finished with “I Stand Alone”, the room was electric; and everybody left satisfied with the stellar performance they had just witnessed.

A slower 2013 that extended into the first half of 2014 (at least in terms of performing) seemed to have done Godsmack some good. They appeared revitalized, like a band who was just getting out onto the road for the first time. They were enjoying playing some new material for everyone, and the crowd loved hearing all the older stuff they knew by heart. It was a spectacle from start to finish, and one I doubt those who attended will forget any time soon.

The heat may have zapped some of the energy from the early birds at Uproar, but those performances from Skillet, Seether and Godsmack helped amp everybody back up, letting them go strong into the night. That ensured this was a good way to spend a Tuesday.

Godsmack and Others Make Some Noise at Uproar - Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by James Villa - A day after Labor Day does seem like an odd day to have a festival, considering school is getting back in session, and if you’re not preoccupied with that, then you’re probably busy at your place of employment.

Exit 380 Looks to the Past at Vinyl Release

House of Blues – Cambridge Room (Dallas, TX)
– Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by Brooke Adams –

Exit 380 Vinyl Release HOB (Dallas, TX) - Brooke Adams Photography 2014

This night had long been anticipated. Months of preparation from both Exit 380 and their record label Hand Drawn Records had gone into making this show at the Cambridge Room of the House of Blues happen, and the payoff was so close you could taste it.

The show was in celebration of their latest…

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Dallas’ INDEX FEST Announces Schedule and New Location

Dallas’ INDEX FEST Announces Schedule and New Location

Index Fest 2014

INDEX FEST announces the final lineup and full schedule for the 3rd Annual Index Festival set to take place in Deep Ellum on September 26 – 28, 2014. The festival is being expanded to three days, organizers have added additional stages, many more bands and “Index After Dark” program which will showcase premier venues in the Deep Ellum. This growth has also required organizers to move one block…

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George Harrison: “The Apple Years” Releasing September 23rd

The Beatles, George Harrison’s First Six Solo Albums, Remastered with Bonus Extras


George Harrison’s first six solo albums, released between 1968 and 1975 on The Beatles’ Apple Records label, have been digitally remastered from the original analogue masters for CD and digital release on September 23 by Capitol/UMe. Wonderwall Music, Electronic Sound, All Things Must Pass, Living In The Material…

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Cain’s Ballroom (Tulsa, OK)

- Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by James Villa -
Sevendust (Tulsa, OK) 8/19/14

For a Tuesday night, the historic Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma was pretty crowded. Several hundred people weren’t going to let the fact that it was early on in the work week stop them from seeing Sevendust. The lone Oklahoma date on their current tour was also one of the last shows of this run. Just because it was one of the final dates didn’t mean they were going to let any wear and tear from their weeks on the road show, though.

Their start time was set for 9:30, and literally as soon as the clock struck 9:30, a couple stage hands rushed out and ripped down the Sevendust banner that had been hanging across the stage all night. Now the back half of the stage was revealed, along with Morgan Roses’ drum kit and all the other gear.

One by one, the band filed on stage, and the already eager crowd was growing more excited by the second and packed in as tightly as they could. John Connolly stepped back and did a fist bump with Rose; and soon, Lajon Witherspoon joined them, and their intense set began with the brutal, “Pieces”. “Let me see your hands in the air! Like this right here!!” Witherspoon roared before they even got the song underway, and he led by example. Bassist Vince Hornsby got a clap along going at one point during the track; while Witherspoon continued pumping everyone up by telling them he wanted to hear them make some noise, or even bounce up and down.

One fan was so pleased by the performance so far, he took his hat off for the band and held it up in the air. “Cain’s Ballroom, are you guys happy to see us tonight?” Witherspoon asked after they had finished the song. Yeah, I’d say the people were happy to see them. Soon, they launched into another beast of a track: “Face to Face”. Connolly and fellow guitarist Clint Lowery, as well as Hornsby continued racing around the stage, while Rose showed off the trick skills he has perfected as a drummer, like throwing one of his sticks high into the air before catching it. (Even that paled in comparison to one of his later stunts, where he placed a drum stick on the right side of his neck, then rolled it around on his neck over to his left side.)

“…I’d like to see you dance…” Witherspoon asked of the crowd before “Till Death”, which I think evoked more head banging than it did dancing; and the fans were more than happy to pump their hands in the air when Witherspoon asked to see them. “I think you look beautiful tonight…” he told the spectators, before they continued the onslaught of massive songs with “Denial”, which saw Hornsby getting a broken drum stick from Rose and then throwing it out to whoever was lucky enough to catch it in the crowd.
Sevendust (Tulsa, OK) 8/19/14

“From front to back, I want to see everyone bouncing!” shouted Witherspoon as they bridged that track right into “Praise”; and once it had concluded, he checked with everybody to make sure it sounded alright to them. “Do you believe in karma in this town?” he then asked, before posing the question again. “I believe in karma,” Witherspoon added, before his band mates started them off on “Karma”, a song that was so well received by fans, the room was filled with loud whistling once it was over.

“Enemy” was dedicated to the United States and the men and women fighting for its freedom; while the patrons were told they would all know what came next. “Angel’s Son” was one of a small handful of tracks that highlighted what beautiful tones Witherspoon is capable of. Yes, his ferocious voice is perfectly suited for their deafening rock anthems, but on songs like this —which was largely acoustic sounding at times — it was bone chillingly gorgeous. “Woo!” the frontman exclaimed upon finishing the track, seeming to be riding a high from it. They followed that closing number from the Animosity album up with another cut form it, and “Trust” was another one fans loved.

Fans were every bit as engaged now at the end of their set as they had been at the start, still singing along to every word, jumping when they were instructed to, and some even had a large circle pit going in the middle of the room. I think it got a little more physical during “Strong Arm Broken”, to the point Witherspoon mentioned in the next break he didn’t want to see any ladies falling, and urged the women to avoid the men and vice versa. “Would you like to hear a song called Decay?” he then asked, as they concluded their 54-minute long set with the lead single off Black Out the Sun.

Fans wanted one more, but the band made them work for it. I actually liked that, and even though you knew they would be back, it was refreshing to see a band take several minutes out, verses most of the others I see, who, within a minute of disappearing back stage, come back out.

“Sev-en-dust!” the audience shouted repeatedly at one point, as they stamped their feet on the floor to accent their chants.

“…We were told they didn’t think anyone would show up…” Witherspoon mentioned once they retook the stage, which drew a booming response from the patrons.
Sevendust (Tulsa, OK) 8/19/14

The encore consisted of “Splinter”, and they had some help on it. Early on, Aaron Nordstrom of Gemini Syndrome (their tour mates for this tour) ran on stage, mic in hand. Nordstrom did more co-singing with Witherspoon than just simply backing vocals, and the two frontmen played off one another, doing a lot of interacting; while Lowery, Connolly, Hornsby and Rose gave every last bit they had in their tanks.

This marked my first ever Sevendust concert and they did not disappoint. I was impressed with their high-energy performance, which never tapered off or relented. They started out by giving it their all, and kept finding different reserves to tap into to make their performance even more dynamic and explosive.

For me, it’s often easy to find one band member I like the most and focus on them, but that was impossible to do with Sevendust. At times, it was the mighty Witherspoon who captivated your eye. Other times perhaps it was Connolly, Lowery or Hornsby; and then, while watching one of them, you’d catch Rose doing something, and quickly shift your attention to him.

They were an unstoppable force here at Cain’s Ballroom; and they had their fans enthralled for every single second.

Sevendust Enthralls with Explosive Show at Cain’s Ballroom Cain’s Ballroom (Tulsa, OK) - Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by James Villa - For a Tuesday night, the historic Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma was pretty crowded.

He Is Legend New Album, “Heavy Fruit” Out Now

He Is Legend New Album, “Heavy Fruit” Out Now

He Is Legend’s new album, Heavy Fruit, is the band’s first new release since their 2009 cult classic, It Hates You. During the hiatus, the band says they never lost touch and guitarist Adam Tanbouz never stopped writing.

“We needed the time off because we had been doing it for ten years and just needed a break. I think the time is what shaped the new record.” says vocalist Schuylar Croom.


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Jenny Lewis Scores Top 10 Debut, Announces Tour Dates

The Voyager – the new solo album from Jenny Lewis – has bowed at No. 9 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album chart, selling nearly 31,000 copies in its first two weeks. This is the celebrated California singer-songwriter’s first Top 10 album and highest chart debut ever, including the albums she released with her former band Rilo Kiley and with her side project Jenny and Johnny with Johnathan Rice.


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- Words by Jordan Buford – Photos by James Villa -

Avenged Sevenfold (Mayhem Festival / Oklahoma City, OK) 8/7/14

Diversity is key to any music festival, and the 7th annual Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival had plenty of it. The Oklahoma City date also had plenty of sun beating down on the grassy field that is the Airpark, where the three roving stages (Coldcock Whiskey; Victory Records; and Sumerian Records) had set up for the day. Some die-hard fans even staked out spots in front of the main stage — which wouldn’t see any action until six-thirty — just to ensure they had a prime spot for Avenged Sevenfold and Korn, among others.

The 100+ degree temps were taken in stride by attendees, who, even at two-o’clock, were already out in droves on this Thursday afternoon.

Of course, the music helped make it bearable, and frontman Big Dad Ritch, bassist John Exall, guitarist Cord Pool and drummer Timmy Braun of Texas Hippie Coalition made time pass like a breeze as they ensnared everyone with opener, “Hands Up”. If you by chance weren’t familiar with THC before this, Big Dad Ritch made it crystal-clear in their set that they are Red Dirt metal. “I can’t tell you how good it fucking feels to have my feet planted on some red fucking dirt!” he bellowed after that first tune, also adding that they needed to wake up any other bands who might be sleeping off hangovers from the night before (or just sleeping in). “…’Cause if Big Dad’s got to be up, then everyone got to be up!” he exclaimed. They had no trouble with that: waking people up or keeping them awake.


The stage setup was interesting, with all three side stages lined up next to one another. Bands on each end (the Victory and Sumerian stages) were playing at the same time, and despite the close proximity, the sounds never bled into each other that much; and now audience members got to pick between Veil of Maya and Wretched, neither of whom disappointed the metalheads.

One of the most memorable sets of the day came from Mushroomhead. It didn’t matter that it was as hot as hell outside, the nine-piece band from Cleveland was still sporting their trademark masks that make the performance so interesting. Seeing them was a first for me; but they hit the stage with an explosive force as they began their 24-minute long set with “Our Apologies”. Playing in the daytime did have its upsides, though, because the sunlight allowed all the audience, no matter how far back, to see the water that rose up from the additional drums with each strike Stitch and Roberto Diablo gave them. Relatively speaking, it’s a simple effect, but it’s a incredibly cool effect.


The crowd was brought more into it when they were instructed to put their fists in the air during the second song; and after being told by the band they weren’t sure if anyone out there was even awake, fans proved it by clapping along during “We Are the Truth”. One of the greatest moments came during “Born of Desire” (their final song), during which Stitch grabbed an inflatable Killer Whale, like what would usually be considered a kids pool toy. He handed it off to the fans first, then jumped on, and while he almost suffered some near falls, he kept going — surfing out a ways before having them send him back to the stage.

J Mann, Jeffrey Nothing, Waylon, Shmotz, Skinny, Church, Dr. F, Roberto Diablo and Stitch owned the stage in a way that few bands did this day. They commanded the crowd with total ease and executed a set that had everyone head banging, pumping their fists or whatever else they wanted from the spectators. Even the final words of “Keep hydrated.” sounded pretty metal.


Ill Nino followed immediately after, and as they say, the show must go on. Lazaro Pina, Diego Verduzco, Ahrue Luster, Dave Chavarri and Oscar Santiago began their fist number, and it was a minute or more later before frontman Cristian Machado took the stage. Your first thought was he was just waiting to make more on an entrance; and he got some of the audience to jump around during “La Epidemia”. He hadn’t waited just to make an entrance, though. “Pardon me, I was having a bout with throwing up just two-seconds before coming on stage.” Machado informed everyone.

You could tell he wasn’t at his peak, though he didn’t let that sickness hinder him, either. He challenged the audience to a head-banging contest on “This is War”, something he partook in as well. Whenever he asked people to jump around, he did it, too. Just goes to show that if you have true passion and dedication for what you do, you’ll do it, regardless of how you might be feeling.


They offered up the lead track from the newly released Till Death, La Familia, and “Live Like There’s No Tomorrow” wound up being a favorite of mine from their performance. The song in general is killer; and the onlookers picked up on the chorus quite quickly, helping them in singing it. Then, for the final song of their 25-minute set, they invited Chris Garza of Suicide Silence up there with them. “He has more talent in five fingers than I do in my entire body.” Machado said, speaking of Garza, who helped them with “God Save Us”.

Ill Nino might not have been up to par this day, yet they still delivered an intense show that can outdo many.

The attendees had gotten plenty of metal so far this day, but now it was time for some metalcore, and Miss May I was serving it up. I’ll confess, their music is much harder from what I typically like, yet even I found it impossible to resist raising my arm up when Levi Benton asked to “see those fucking horns in the air!” before they ripped into “Refuse to Believe”. He kept the commands coming all through their set, and people were happy to meet them, rather it meant jumping, moshing or whatever. “You guys are as much a part of this song as we are!” Benton declared before “Day by Day”, as they continued on their very vibrant set that will no doubt ensure that while this may be their first Mayhem Fest, it won’t be there last.


Following in that same vein was Emmure, who closed out the Victory Records Stage; and Suicide Silence had more eyes on them than any act so far this day. They capitalized off it, too; and two songs in, vocalist Hernan “Eddie” Hermida jumped from the stage into the photo pit, and then, from the rail, leaned pretty far out into the crowd, continuing to sing “No Pity for the Coward” while people grabbed him. It was metal to the core.


Another highlight of the day came when Body Count took the Sumerian Stage. These days, to a new generation, Ice-T is known as much or more of an actor as he is a rapper. Still, rapping was where he got his start, and even now, in his mid-fifties, Ice-T can run circles around almost anyone.

Right from the start of “There Goes the Neighborhood” it was evident he was a machine. “…You are the softest pit in the United States!” he told the crowd, saying he didn’t care if it was a BBQ pit, he just wanted everyone to “make a fucking pit.” Heat and tiredness were probably factors in that, though parts of the crowd did as he said, while he and the rest of Body Count continued with their beast of a show that ended with what else, but “Cop Killer”.


Cannibal Corpse capped things on off the smaller stages, and then attention turned to the main stage, where the final touches were being added for Trivium.

“Are you fucking ready?!” Shouted Matt Heafy when the band took the stage, being met with thunderous roars. “Prove it!” he shouted, as they jumped right into the pulse-pounding “Black”. A couple songs in, Heafy asked if they had any “first timers” out in the crowd, and quite a few hands (including mine) shot towards the sky. There were far more repeat offenders there, but for all the new ones, he made clear that they have one rule: “…Whatever we’re doing up here, we need you doing out there.”


That was easy enough; and the further they progressed in their all too short seven-song set, old and new fans alike just got more and more into it. Then again, with a show so topnotch, how could you not?

Asking Alexandria got about a 45-minute set over the thirty of the band before them, which was just long enough for seven tracks. They focused most of their time on the From Death to Destiny record, from beginning with “Don’t Pray for Me”, to “Killing You” and even showed off the soft side they are capable of with “Moving On”.


As usual, they killed it, leaving all satisfied.

The day had been grueling, though everyone had held up to the heat surprisingly well, and now the payoff was here.

The intro alone was enough to get fans of Korn excited, and all that excitement bubbled over when Ray Luzier took the stage, opening up the track with some ferocious beats; and was followed closely behind by keyboardist Zac Baird. “Oklahoma City, you ready for this shit?!” Jonathan Davis asked when the rest of the band ran out there, beginning this unforgettable 55-minute set with “Falling Away From Me”. Luzier caught my eye many times this night, and ended that track by slinging one of his drumsticks high into the air, before catching it and slamming it on one of the skins.


Davis worked the crowd during one of the few breaks they took, telling them they could do better when he asked to hear everyone. He then spoke in tongues to the congregation during the brief “Twist”, using that as a lead in to “Got the Life”, which become a song for the audience to clap along to; and Brian Welch and Reginald Arvizu had an awesome moment where they faced one another and tore it up on their respective instruments.

They killed it all the way through, but about halfway was when the fans reached a fevered pitch. “Are you ready to take this shit up to another level?!” asked Davis after using his bagpipes on “Shoots and Ladders”. With that, they began a stretch of songs that mixed seamlessly into the next; and Welch armed himself with his double bass for “Coming Undone”; while Davis pointed the microphone out to everyone before the first chorus of “Here to Stay”, letting everybody sing back at them, “Anticipating all the fucked up feelings again!”


It was really something to see the fans reaction to all this, because with each song they screamed and cheered louder out of glee of what they were about to hear. Korn neared the end, and then the noise that had been constant died out for some reason. “I didn’t tell you to shut up!” Davis remarked, prompting more screams to fill the air. He mentioned this last song was the one that started it all back about twenty-years ago, and perhaps the best thing about “Blind” was seeing some of the band members kids run out on stage and bang their heads along to the music. I doubt that was something they ever envisioned happening twenty-years ago, but it was cool to see.

Korn was yet another band whom I hadn’t seen before this day, and I can say they exceeded all expectations. In the little more than two-decades they’ve spent together, they’ve perfected what a live show should be about, packing it full of energy, to the point it was hard to decide which band member to focus on. They all have an overwhelming stage persona, and combined, well, it’s clear why Korn is the titan they are.

Oh, something else that was cool, they stayed on stage for a few minutes after finishing, just throwing picks, drumheads and assortment of stuff out to those lucky enough to be in the front.

Avenged Sevenfold (Mayhem Festival / Oklahoma City, OK) 8/7/14

The sun had set long ago now, and for the first time all day it felt nice. Perfect weather for Avenged Sevenfold.

The pyrotechnics were superb, and if you were close enough (I wasn’t even directly in front of the stage), you could still feel the heat from the massive flames that shot into the air during “Shephard of Fire”. “You alright out there?” M. Shadows asked once they finished, just checking in on everybody. “Let’s do this!” he said, as they tore into “Nightmare”, during which he said to every single person that he wanted to see everything that they may have had left in them after this day.

Avenged Sevenfold (Mayhem Festival / Oklahoma City, OK) 8/7/14

The duel guitar solo Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance did during “Bat Country” earned them the full attention of all the people who had turned out; and then came something very interesting. A light suddenly illuminated a man who had somehow climbed the scaffolding of the stage and sit atop it, talking to someone on his cell phone.

This upset all the festival goers, most of whom showed no concern for the man and didn’t care how he got down, they just wanted A7X to come back out. See, the band had left until this matter got resolved, and someone yelled a “Fuck you!” at them, which Shadows made clear was not the right way to handle the situation, and they would be back as soon as this guy was safe.

It took maybe all of five-minutes before the man suddenly scuttled across the scaffolding and came down, and then the band returned. “I’m so mentally distraught I can only play one more.” Shadows laughed, before starting a chant of “Hail!”. They got back on track with “Hail to the King”, and kept delighting fans’ ears with songs like “Almost Easy” and “Afterlife”.

Avenged Sevenfold (Mayhem Festival / Oklahoma City, OK) 8/7/14

Nine songs wasn’t enough for these rabid fans, though, but the two-song encore, which wrapped up with “Unholy Confessions”, did the trick.

Even that one weird moment with the guy on the scaffolding wasn’t enough to throw Avenged Sevenfold of their game, and the band who came out firing on all cylinders just got better with each passing moment, mesmerizing the crowd not only with the fire and stage props, but also their musicianship.

Avenged Sevenfold (Mayhem Festival / Oklahoma City, OK) 8/7/14

For those who ventured out early in the afternoon, this was a long day. The music was more scorching than the heat was, though; and the fact that it encompassed everything from metal, to metalcore and even hip-hop guaranteed this year’s Mayhem appealed to many.

Intense Heat Doesn’t Deter Mayhem Festival Goers in Oklahoma City - Words by Jordan Buford - Photos by James Villa - Diversity is key to any music festival, and the 7th annual Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival had plenty of it.