Part of Jul 2010 by
Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2010

Rockstar Mayhem Tour in Denver 2010

The modern-day model for all successful festival tours was created by a man named Kevin Lyman.  If hes not a billionaire yet he soon will be.  He started out by running Perry Ferrells incredibly famous and horribly named Lollapalooza.  (It was actually genius-ly named 20 years ago but now that everything from wheelbarrow races to political campaigns are called blank “….palooza” it basically ruins the whole deal.)  This year Mr. Lyman and company are running several tours including the 15-year-old “Tour That Wont Die” Vans Warped Tour, the metal mosh dance card that is the Rockstar Mayhem Festival and the middle child “half way in-between the 2” – Taste of Chaos Tour.  There was a country music tour added and executed earlier this year and upcoming is a brand new rock tour called “Uproar” that launches this fall.  In an uphill economic era where major acts are cutting back and even cancelling tours Mr. Lyman and Co. are selling out existing tours and adding new ones.  Hes doing something right.

The Denver stop of the Rockstar Mayhem Festival was sold out and then some.  The venue holds 18,000 and the number of tickets sold I heard all day long was 20,000.  On the lineup for 2010 is the perfect mathematical formula for success and I guarantee its not by accident.  With a dozen bands on the bill including mega-headliners Korn and Rob Zombie, tons of “mid-level” national bands like Hatebreed and Atreyu, and some very sparkly new stars like In This Moment the Mayhem tour 2010 is selling better than the previous 2 years of its existence.

Rockstar Mayhem sold out in Denver

Rockstar Mayhem sold out in Denver

This next section will probably only make sense, on an empathetical level anyways, to all the die-hard hippies out there.  The Mayhem Festival coming to your town is a musical holiday event that is looked forward to for months by the fans.  Even though metal heads and hippies are not exactly snuggly bunk mates, Im sure we can all break bread on the importance of your favorite music festival coming through town.

The Mayhem festival in Denver turned out to be a three day event for me.  I personally was involved in 2 pre-parties: one on the Friday before (at a complete wasteland of a crap bar) and the second on “Mayhem Eve” at the Gothic Theater in Denver with 500 other metal fans in attendance.

On the Friday night before Mayhem Sunday I was hosting a very small metal event at that wasteland bar I mentioned with a “Total Capacity” sign that has been poorly written over in marker to say 150.  It probably really says 80.  Halfway into the evening the promoter for the event comes over to me and says, “Clown from Slipknot will be here in 45 minutes.  Be ready.”  This was a completely surreal and left field Jean-Claude Van Damme kick right into my unwary fan boy chest.  My little metal media tag line is, “If you cut me I will bleed Slipknot.”  Even though I had met Clown (Whos real name is Shawn Crahan) once before backstage at the Kansas City Mayhem 2 years ago and even played a little xbox with him,  I knew he wouldnt remember me.  Slipknot is second only to Metallica in popularity.  In those 2 years since I have met a few hundred people I cant remember and he has met the population of Pittsburgh he cant remember.  I was feeling very Pittsburghian at that moment.

When Clown showed up 2 interesting things occurred.  Number one was that Mr. Crahan is completely immersed in his photography career right now and he basically took pictures the whole night including of the car wash next door.  Really.  This is one of the biggest metal stars in the entire world and he was taking pictures of the car wash hoses in the next lot as I was watching him through the “PBRs $2!!!” painted window of this working class bar. The other thing…his entire entourage was made up of completely unrelated mid level national rock stars that smacked of awkward.  Like a corporate company picnic.  “Ohhhhhhh, sooo youre Bill from accounting?!  Nice to finally meet you! Hows abouts some potato salad there, Bill?” On Sunday at Mayhem I would find out why this quasi-famous group was assembled around Clown.

Groovey and Pal

Groovey and Pal

The Saturday Pre-Mayhem show went exactly as planned. 500 people showed up, we all rocked out, and when I got on stage to make the people scream for the next band they screamed.  But dont get me wrong it was a whole lot of fun.   The Pre-Mayhem party had 6 of Colorados best metal bands celebrating the royal national parade that was about to travel into our mile high village the next day.  Complete with minstrels, heroes, ghouls and goblins, the grand theater and the not so grand theater.  And mosh pits.   Trust me.  Most of us get it.

For Sunday I had scheduled 8 interviews with the Mayhem bands and 1 with the festivals MC: the nationally well known stand up comedian Big Jay Oakerson.  I have rambled on before on a2 about how video and photographer dude Stu Kennedy and I try to kill ourselves at the major festivals.  To give you an idea of how stupid 9 interviews at Mayhem is, the closest number I heard from one of the other media meatheads was 3.  It took me 2 weeks of constant PR schmoozing but Stu and I engaged in 9 video interviews with most of the major Mayhem acts (Korn and Rob Zombie) and several of my heroes (Hatebreed, Murderdolls, and Five Finger Death Punch.) all in one day.  I am in no way complaining; think of it more like boasting with a very decorative and hopefully distracting whining theme.

On Sunday morning I showed up at the Comfort Dental Amphitheater (Which I ridicule that horrible corporate name endlessly in my Mayhem video interviews.  Whats next? A stadium named after an ear cleaning product?) And there is a diesel tanker truck on its side in front of “will call” leaking fuel like a quasi-flammable sprinkler system.  This little news tidbit was everywhere including some national channels.  The truck carrying the diesel for all of the concerts generators had flipped and was on its side right in front of most peoples designated meeting area.  Which was sort of damper on the metal holiday cuz of the police lines, squad cars, fire trucks and the festive good times that is a potential blast radius.  Not only did this delay Stu and I from getting our press passes, but there were 20,000 people about to show up looking to get into the venue.  It was fun for the whole family.  Stu and Is first few interviews (of the Pyrrhic 9) were done on tour busses and trailers several blocks away from the only puddle in Colorado being covered by the networks.  Several hours later we were allowed into the actual press area by the police and general uniformed national security types.  Which of course as soon as we were allowed into the venue we hear, “YOU ARE 15 MINUTES LATE FOR YOUR INTERVIEW!!!!!!!!”  It really is a good thing I have a pretty even temper, am old enough to have the patience rings etched into my bones, and have practiced this line/mantra to death in a semi-stoner voice, “Ohhhh, sorry, my bad.  If its not too much trouble can we still do the interview?”  We did the interview and it was actually a lot of fun.  And we didnt get blown up by a flipped tanker! In the corporate cubicles of America thats called a Win/Win.

I mentioned in the beginning of this adventure that Mayhem 2010 felt like a “Leveling Up” for Stu and I.  Mainly where that comes from is that A) Although security tried to prevent us from entering the venue until we could clean the diesel fuel off of our shoes, once we were inside the VIP area, we were never threatened to be thrown out completely. B)   A couple of the interviews that we did were actually offered to us without weeks of begging.  From real labels.  C) The big serious inner circle security guards didnt shoo us out like chickens when somebody famous showed up and wanted some Cole slaw from the kitchen.   Which personally I find annoying and sort of the defeats the purpose of trying to seem even remotely cool to basically anyone, “Im sorry you have to leave.”  “Why, Im eating?” “The tambourine player from Mega-McFlintlock wants some pudding and cant be seen or photographed.”  “Ugh, fine.  Please watch my food for me while I stand in the hall. And I know how many fish sticks I have left there, buddy. Dont even think about it.”

Rob Zombie at Rockstar Mayhem 2010 in Denver

Rob Zombie at Rockstar Mayhem 2010 in Denver

The concert itself was as intense and awesome, or as frightening and Help me! (Depending on your sensibilities), as you can imagine 20,000 metal fans would deliver.  12 hours of metal insanity prefabbed and manufactured to the moshing masses by a perfectly tuned concert festival assembly line.  And after seeing that wonderful spectacle of humanity, interviewing all those bands, and meeting so many wonderful people that day there are 2 things that stick out most in my brain.  1) The press area has a population of frolicking cute lil bunnies who are either deaf and perfectly trained professionals or are actually robots, and 2) Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch said his mic stand weighs 350 pounds and Im sure hes not exaggerating.  Its the mic stand poster child for rock star excess.

To bring this all around back to that crappy bar:  Theres a certain metal music mega dude who moved to Denver a couple years back and every time I see him the needle drops on the vinyl in my brain and I hear a crackly, “Please allow me to introduce myself, Im a man of wealth and taste.”  At the Denver Mayhem we greeted each other, which of course is an honor for me regardless of which Rolling Stone theme song for him is playing in my head, and he said this, “I have a new super group Im putting together.  (And he means it.  His track record for making metal stars is stellar.) They sound like a combo of “..” and “..” and the members are (The exact line up that was at the table with Clown from Slipknot in that crappy bar.)  You should make friends with them.”

“Actually man, I kind of already have.  The PBRs were $2 as I recall.”  True story.

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