Anytime you can boast a show that features the likes of In Flames and Trivium as openers, you have something special on your hands, and the Darien, NY tour stop of the 2011 Rockstar Mayhem Festival surely had the making of a special night. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to those festival goers in attendance, Machinehead was nowhere to be seen, or heard for that matter, which meant that the set times of every other bands was moved up.
Aside from the absence of Machinehead, a band many people in the crowd wanted to see, the night was mostly full of killer performances from a great group of bands. In Flames was tremendous to say the least, though they didn’t really seem to fit on the massive amphitheater stage, but if you ever get the chance to catch a set from this Gothenburg, Sweden product in a more intimate setting, definitely do so, especially now that they are armed with material from their high-powered new album Sounds of Playground Fading.
I missed most of Trivium’s set due to Machinehead not being there and all of the set times changing – I was able to catch two songs towards the end of their set though. They aren’t bad live; just a tad monotonous and they wear their own band shirts onstage. And speaking of monotonous onstage, there might not be a more apt description of a Megadeth in a live venue. I guess that’s about all Ill about that.
Godsmack on the other hand are about the furthest thing from monotonous onstage as possible, and even though this was a radio show for all intensive purposes, their set still delivered passion and energy and that trademark grit we have all come to love with this band. From the beginning stages of “Cryin’ Like a Bitch” to the closing bars of set closer “Whatever,” then encore “I Stand Alone,” Godsmack delivered an energetic show in spades. They were the true highlight of the night and one of its saving graces, as evidenced by the lackluster snore-fest Disturbed delivered later. Godsmack fired off hit after hit including “Awake” and “Love Hate Sex Pain,” but the best parts of their set were more a tradition for fans who have seen them many, many times like me (double digits), being the Sully Erna/Shannon Larkin dueling drum segment that led to a quality cover medley of tunes from Metallica, Rush, Jethro Tull, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of this band live.
Disturbed took the stage next and I left early. I still did catch about a dozen songs, but I have to say, honestly, I was immediately disappointed when frontman Dave Draiman merely walked out onstage. No electric chair, no straight jacket, no dolly or wheelchair – nothing. I have heard rumors that the band is planning on taking an indefinite hiatus following this tour and if there was ever a band that needs it, it’s these guys. Still, Disturbed did manage to hook me as they crammed a number of songs off their brilliant debut the Sickness into the first portion of the show, playing songs like “Stupify” and “the Game” along with a Sickness medley of “Fear”/“Meaning of Life”/ “Numb.” Their performance of “Prayer” was also great. Their material off of Asylum was lackluster and for my eighth time seeing them live, it was definitely the worst.
Overall though, the 2011 Rockstar Mayhem Festival was great success, as I expected, and hopefully this tour will continue to forge ahead and be a powerhouse annual event.