Better than: A crowdsurfing kick to the face.
By MATT SPENCER
Tuesday was a busy day for the KC concert scene. While the hipster crowd got its voodoo on with the Black Crowes, and the stoners got to feeling alright with Tom Petty, Sandstone Amphitheater was awash in tattoos, plastic bottles, and ever increasing decibel levels.
During the afternoon part of Rockstar Mayhem Fest, the back parking lot of Sandstone packed the metal into every nook it could find. At the north end of the lot, the Jagermeister stage and Hot Topic stage were paired up, allowing audiences to shuffle back and forth quickly. The roadies never stopped, and no band was off their stage for more than 30 seconds before the next stage roared to life.
Opening band Suicide Silence hit the Hot Topic stage at about 2:20 p.m. and immediately set the standard for that synchronized hair spinning trick. Black Tide were the young challengers to the old metal gods with all members clocking in at under 20 years old, including 15 year old lead singer Gabriel Garcia. Continent of Ash represented Kansas via Wichita, and Walls of Jericho featured the only female vocalist of the day, Candace Kucsulain. Right after that is when the fighting started.
Following Walls of Jericho, the Red Chord took to the Hot Topic stage and Metal ensued as expected.
At the same time, Five Finger Death Punch was setting up on the Jagermeister stage, and crowd slowly trickled away from Red Chord to try and get close.
Soon the parking lot was split evenly between those cheering for Red Chord and those waiting for Death Punch. Red Chord's lead singer Guy Kozowyk struck up taunts and middle fingers from his fans between each song, building a little animosity between the two halves of the lot. Toward the end of the set, Red Chord's singer told his crowd "On the count of 3, rush those motherfuckers." Sure enough, a 300-like style charge started from one side of the lot to the other, and a giant circle pit ensued. All in good fun, right?
Punctuating the audible metal with gasoline-burning metal, dirtbike riders from Metal Mulisha pulled flips, kicks, and hip thrusts high in the air, just east of the stages. The Speedo-wearing gentleman was just a bonus. This, along with massive beer lines, bathroom lines, merch lines, and autograph lines, banished all idleness from the day. A few charities could be seen as well.
Some overlap occurred between the afternoon and evening sets, with Mastodon opening on the main stage at 5:45, while Machine Head didn't wrap up the back lot metal sessions until 7 p.m. Dragonforce came out with a dedicated following, but their ‘80s metal embodiments seemed to drag out a little long for the Disturbed and Slipknot fans. As their set ended, curtain were drawn and the roadies went to work once more.
Disturbed. Yes, I was disturbed, maybe even disappointed. The Mayhem Fest had been a full day of hair-swinging, screaming, thrashing, banging, cliché-embracing metal. Every band on the stages that afternoon, good or bad, polished or rough, looked like they were damn grateful to be where they were instead of mowing the lawn on a warm Tuesday. Metal for Metal's sake, right?
The curtain fell away, and Disturbed lead singer David Draiman was wheeled out Silence of the Lambs style in front of the ziggurat drum riser. Much cheering erupted, and much talk to the effect of "Welcome, my disturbed brothers and sisters." After that, the band proceeded to phone it in.
From a technical standpoint, Disturbed's set was flawless. They sound just like their songs on the radio. Mirrored their studio albums note for note. Sounds levels good. Lights and banners, check. Tight timing and well-coordinated music always fall favorably upon the ear, and Distubed's fandom and radio play show that. Most metal bands have an act or theme, but Disturbed's stark, stone-cut persona didn't find the passion. A point in their favor, however, because their new album-cover mascot much resembles the comic book character Evil Ernie, and that just fucking rocks.
Slipknot opened with DJ Sid Wilson rolling onto the stage in his wheelchair, drinking from a large bottle. "DJ Moonboots" -- as frontman Corey Taylor lovingly refereed to Sid in his twin lower leg casts -- jumped off a speaker stack the first night of the Mayhem tour, breaking both feet. Still, spirit survived where bones failed, and Slipknot ripped into their signature chaos by consensus.
Steel sculptures, firejets, flashbangs, and of course the masks of 0-8 framed the metal pouring off the stage as the band jumped back and forth between their three previous albums' material and blessed their maggots with new material from their upcoming fourth record. A quick encore set after a break wrapped up the evening, and everyone was probably night-blind walking up the hill from Slipknot's fire, explosions, and massive lighting setup.
The Gods of Metal showed their appeasement by blessing the crowd with a brief, cooling rain shower, and all was well.
Personal Bias: Five Finger Death Punch was probably the best set of the back lot stages, and you shouldn't argue with a lead singer holding big chromed brass knuckles.
Random Detail: To the guy hiding below the barrier of the Hot Topic Stage smoking a massive glass pipe full of weed, yes the security guy saw you.
By the way: Flattened plastic bottles on the ground = instant sled ride to moshpit death.