The fourth of July weekend has become synonymous with heavy metal fans across America as the start of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, the largest touring metal festival of its kind in America. This marked the seventh year for the massive tour, and the fifth year that Boise has been part of the schedule. As it seems to happen each year, the Treasure Valley date faced some hurdles; broken buses and closed roads, which led to altering the day’s schedule. Asking Alexandria and Trivium, who were slated to play the Main Stage, got pushed to headlining the Coldcock Whiskey and Sumerian Records – Headbang for the Highway stages. Despite this, Boise fans turned out in the best numbers ever for the Idaho stop of the tour, topping 8000 this year.
For the second straight year, Mayhem added a fourth stage, this one sponsored by Victory Records, but it was located so far from the other stages, most of the fans overlooked the bands performing on it. Canada’s Erimha kicked off the day on the Victory Records stage, which also featured performances by Islander, Wretched, Ill Nino, and Emmure. The latter became the first band to ever perform Mayhem on back to back years. Side note: In case you missed them, Islander will return to Boise on August 21 as part of a Free X-rocks 100.3 show with Otherwise at The Knit.
King 810 led off the Coldcock Whiskey Stage, the set wrapped in yellow police warning tape. They were followed by red dirt renegades, Texas Hippie Coalition. Both bands were making their debut runs on Mayhem. Mushroomhead were one of the early highlights of the day, storming the stage with their full nine-man line-up as well as special guest vocalist, Jackie LaPonza. Miss May I lit the crowd up next for its inaugural Mayhem run, and Suicide Silence, who played on Mayhem’s first tour in 2008, and again in 2011, showcased new vocalist Eddie Hermida. Buffalo, New York deathgore legends, Cannibal Corpse brutalized the crowd as the stage headliner.
On the Sumerian Stage, Darkest Hour and Veil of Maya made their respective Mayhem debuts to start the day. Upon a Burning Body performed next in the wake of the backfired publicity stunt pulled by singer Danny Leal the prior week where fans were led to believe he’d been kidnapped by a stalker. The crowd did not care and cheered the band on while the bare-chested Leal coaxed the crowd into a frenzy. One of the day’s biggest moments and a tour highlight was the return of Ice-T and Body Count, who owned the stage and stole the crowd.
Trivium and Asking Alexandria missed out on their main stage slots, but they made the most of the exhausted and overheated crowds, officially closing out the smaller stages.
Korn returned to the Main Stage for the first time since 2010, and for the first time with returning guitarist Brian “Head” Welch who returned to the fold in 2013. The band rewarded the exhausted crowd with a tight 12-song set that began with “Falling Away with Me”, “Twist” and “Got the Life” and ended with “Freak on a Leash” and “Blind”.
The day’s largest draw was Avenged Sevenfold who made their full Mayhem debut as the tour’s primary headliner. A7X as they are also known, performed a couple of fill-in dates in 2010, but this is their first full run. The band went straight for the throat, opening in a blast of pyro with “Shepherd of Fire” then performing back to back hits with “Nightmare”, “Bat Country”, and “Hail the King”. Avenged Sevenfold had to halt the show near the end of “Nightmare” to have security pull a passed out fan from the packed crowd.
Vocalist M. Shadows took command of the crowd while guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance brought the riff revelry and bassist Johnny Christ and drummer Arin Ilejay laid down a thunderous foundation. It was a wild night and a fitting finale to the biggest Mayhem Fest to date in Boise as the band closed out with “A Little Piece of Heaven” and “Unholy Confessions”.
The Examiner/AXS interviewed 10 of the bands performing and you can see those interviews by clicking on the band's linked names above.