Post-modern hardcore hybrids reigned supreme at the inaugural installment of the Rockstar Mayhem Festival, but not without a nod or two to ye olde metal. For their encore, headliners Slipknot thrashed through "(sic)" while drummer Joey Jordison's colossal kit rose up 20 feet above the stage and tilted at a gravity-flouting angle. Tommy Lee should be seeking royalties.
The nine-member masked militia churned through much of their back catalog and dropped in two numbers from their upcoming All Hope Is Gone. "Psychosocial," the leaked lead single with an uncharacteristically melodic chorus, drew the only lukewarm response of the set.
For all the complexity of their stage production, Slipknot seemed off the cuff compared to Disturbed. Every move of singer David Draiman was made with rigid, theatrical exaggeration. He led the rabid audience through a chant of "USA!" before going into "Inside the Fire" from the recently released Indestructible, the band's third chart-topping album. All guttural growls and f-bombs, Disturbed's songs hammered the crowd with an indiscriminate but vehement aggression.
The kings of theatrical exaggeration, however, were undoubtedly DragonForce. Sporting ass-length hair, leather pants and dueling guitar solos, the U.K. gamer-metal warriors were clearly having the most fun of any of Mayhem's main stage performers. They saved "Through the Fire and Flames" — the power anthem that has inspired many a guitar hero — for last.
These bands were flashier, angrier, and faster than Mastodon, but none matched the Georgia quintet's smoldering intensity. They kicked off the first main stage set by pummeling early arrivals with the double-kick-drum thunder of "Colony of Birchmen." By the second song, overeager crowd surfers were being plucked from the pit by security.
Outside the main stage action, snowcapped Mt. Rainer was framed by the Jagermeister and the Hot Topic stages. Motocross riders launched across the festival grounds, as buoyant as Jordison's drum set would seem at the close of the festival.