Rockstar Mayhem Fest field at San Manuel Amphitheater–kick-of of the tour July 9, 2011.

Photos by Tom Wallace

As Revolver Magazine put it, the Rockstar Mayhem Fest is like facing the horsemen of the Apocalypse head on. And the kick-off in San Bernardino, CA, for the 4th year of America’s hardest rock and metal core tour proved to be just that on July 9, 2011.

With headliners featuring Disturbed, Godsmack, Megadeth (who joined the tour the next day), a special performance on opening night by Dethklok, plus Machine Head, and Trivium, it’s not unusual to see passionate fans usually dressed in black, ready for a head-banging good time. Sponsors range from Rockstar Energy Drink, Jagemeister and Revolver Magazine who have their own stages, to non-profits such as Music Saves Lives, and a new charity Hope for the Warriors and the Pathway Home for veterans.

Machine Head.

On opening day, thousands gathered at the San Manuel Amphitheater despite the blazing heat to check-out what’s new for the summer’s metal core scene. Mayhem Fest, which runs from July 9 through August 14, 2011 ending in West Palm Beach, FL, starts around 1 in the afternoon and runs into the evening. Other than the music, there are other attractions such as the Metal Mulisha show featuring top freestyle motocross riders pulling tricks in synchronized sessions that add to the high-energy of the festival. Media from music magazines to mainstream were on hand to capture the scene, including commentator Full Metal Jackie who’s been delivering quick, insightful video clips for the tour’s website.

Metal Mulisha performance during Mayhem Fest.

The festival area also includes of course, places to shop for the latest in metal-music inspired apparel and accessories. Black with red graphic are popular this summer, but so too is a mix of sharp, fresh fonts as scene with the official Mayhem merch T-shirts. The Metal Mulisha also sells their own apparel which is becoming popular among guys and girls. Interestingly, there was also a fair amount of Volcom T-shirts on guy fans that indicates this brand is a crossover between different genres.

Suicide Silence attracts a younger metal core crowd.

While some of the bands are obviously classics in metal, what’s interesting is another set of performers and that are attracting an entirely new and younger audience interested in grindcore, deathcore, heavy riffs and are already YouTube sensations. For example, Suicide Silence, which was once on the Vans Warped Tour, is again this year on Mayhem Fest. They won the Revolver Best New Talent at the Golden Gods in 2009. In Flames, which isn’t really a new band especially if you consider that their 2009 hit album “A Sense of Purpose” helped win them a Swedish Grammy for Best Metal Band, but they are fresh to many new American metal listeners. Trivium, which is rotating on the main stage with In Flames and Machine Head, and Straight Line Stitch, the only band with a woman front-person, who actually kicked-off the show as the first band to play starting on the Revolver stage. Alexis Brown was practically mobbed by fans, including a large percentage of young girls, after their performance at their band signing.

Other bands on Tour include Unearth, Kingdom of Sorrow, Red Fang, and All Shall Perish.

Overall, the Mayhem Fest is taking off in its own fashion, with a growing new fanbase that’s inspiring some new sounds and styles for 2011.

Godsmack%uFFFDs Sully Erna at Mayhem kick-off.

Godsmack%uFFFDs drum set is incredible.

Mayhem Fest fans crushing the barricade.

Hair-whips from All Shall Perish.

Intense guitar playing from All Shall Perish.

Red Fang from Portland.

Other than T-shirts for Mayhem merch, they also have hot sauce called “Devil%uFFFDs Blood.” This stuff sold out in hours.

Mayhem T-shirt merch. Skeletons, Apocalypse horses, sharp fonts, red, white, and black.

More Metal Mulisha performances.

Metal Mulisha team signing autographs.

Alexis Brown, front-woman for Straight Line Stitch, is the only female metal rocker on the Mayhem tour this summer.

Lots of young girl metal fans waiting in line to catch her autograph at the band signing.

Black and red are signature metal inspired colors, but the new thing is the Americana twist with a razor blade and blood stripes flag version.

Hope for the Warriors program is a big initiative for Mayhem this summer.

DIY denim vests with band merch patches are popular with this subculture.

The Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

New generation of metal heads.