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Review: Mayhem Festival ‘14 at Red Rocks

Mayhem '14-slide0
Elliot Levin/Denver Hard Rock Examiner

Mayhem Festival '14 at Red Rocks

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Only five of Mayhem Fest’s bands made it to the top of Red Rocks Amphitheater for this year’s Denver date on Monday, but Avenged Sevenfold, Korn & company unleashed a five hour barrage of heavy metal music that echoed off the mountaintops and kept fans on their feet and kicking ass all night long.

Jonathan Davis and Ray Luzier of Korn
Elliot Levin / Denver Hard Rock Examiner

Summer’s heaviest tour continues to impress on its 7th annual run, even though most of Mayhem’s second stage bands played the Fillmore in Denver on Sunday (see photos and read my review right here). That left Body Count, Trivium, Asking Alexandria, Korn and Avenged Sevenfold to crush fans at the country’s best amphitheater, high up in the mountains at Red Rocks. While moshing and crowdsurfing is practically impossible on the steep stairs, that didn’t stop anyone in attendance from rocking out to their favorite songs.

Fans could be seen wearing T-shirts from many of the Mayhem bands, but the vast majority of ticketholders seemed to be there for the sold out night’s headliners, returning Mayhem favorites Korn and first time Mayhem virgins Avenged Sevenfold.

Korn opened with a trio of older songs in Got The Life, Twist and Falling Away From Me, before hitting new tracks Love & Meth and Spike In My Veins. It was extra special to see original guitarist Head back on stage, whipping his dreads alongside Fieldy, Munky and Jonathan Davis.

Davis broke out his famous bagpipes for Shoots & Ladders, driving thousands of fans to chant and scream along to the nursery rhyme-based song. The crowd participation continued for the rest of the set, Davis urging the fans to sing the words to Freak On A Leash and the entire mountain exploding with a scream of “Are you readdddddy!” on set-closer Blind, which also saw an adorable, mohawk-sporting 6 year old headbanging on stage right in the middle of the band.

Korn is a hard act for any band to follow, but Avenged Sevenfold were up to the challenge with a killer setlist and enough pyro to burn down a small village. Shepherd of Fire, Nightmare and Bat Country formed their opening assault, and fans went crazy for M. Shadow’s smooth vocals over the blistering guitarwork.

Fans also went crazy when he brought a girl on stage, covered her eyes, and then let go for her to see her boyfriend on her knees holding out a ring. Getting engaged at Red Rocks is not that uncommon, but getting engaged on stage with Avenged Sevenfold takes surprise proposals to the next level.

Avenged closed the night out with So Far Away, dedicated to late drummer The Rev, and the Metallica-esque This Means War. For an encore, they came back out with A Little Piece Of Heaven and an extra-scream-y Unholy Confessions, finally ending their flame-filled set to wild applause.

I can’t pretend that two halfs of Mayhem was equal to the all-day festival that’s been the summer highlight of the past six years, especially given how little space was available at both the Fillmore and Red Rocks for merch booths, giveaways, artist signings, and the rest of Mayhem’s “travelling circus” features. But Monday night’s show was still an epic heavy metal offering at a stunning venue, and with brilliant setlists from every band, Mayhem ‘14 is now in the books (and the Red Rocks Hall of Fame) as another successful heavy metal bash.

Look for Mayhem’s sister tour Uproar Festival to hit the Denver area on September 9 at 1st Bank Center, featuring past Mayhem performers Godsmack as well as openers like Skillet and Buckcherry - full details available here.