Rockstar Mayhem Fest in San Bernardino, CA

Story and Photos by Kathleen Gasperini

Metal never really went away -it just went to Europe. Or so it would seem about 5 years ago when most metal musicians would have to travel to Europe, particularly Scandinavia, to get the fandom and respect they deserved. And then something happened and the global metal scene started its revitalization. Some say the Ozzfest, others claim is was the Rockstar Mayhem Fest. And given that this summer, Ozzfest was no longer but Rockstar Mayhem was stronger than ever, you can see that this is where the new movement is headed with a mix of extreme music, post-hardcore, punk-metal, and metal with bands ranging from Slayer to Marilyn Manson, Bullet for My Valentine, Trivium, All That Remains, Job for a Cowboy, and many others.

As we stated in our story about the Golden God Awards by Revolver, the fact that such an award ceremony can take place back in the USA is a statement in and of itself. As Jonathan Davis from Korn put it while thanking Revolver, Epiphone, Nokia Live, and Honda Fury for hosting the first-ever American metal awards show, “It’s nice to not have to go to Europe for these things anymore.”

Perhaps it’s a reflection of the economy, the bitter after taste of lies and deceit from Wall Street, but the Rockstar Metal Mayhem Tour is one of those very timely things. It indicates that metal is fully back, pushing new trends among an entirely new generation, including music, sponsorship opportunities, sports (the Metal Mulisha was in full performance mode), and even fashion -especially in band merch influences in T-shirt graphics.

Affliction T-shirt graphics from Mayhem reflect skulls, swords, religious motifs, moto influences.

While the images are based on the event in San Bernardino at the San Miguel Amphitheater (Glen Helen Pavilion) at the beginning of the tour, next week marks the wrap of another incredibly successful Mayhem Fest and with it, an entire growing subculture of new metal fans and wannabe RockBand metalheads. Produced by Kevin Lyman (of Vans Warped Tour and Tastes of Chaos) and John Reese, with Darryl Eaton from CAA, Keri Lee as Operations Manager, and Sarah Baer as Sponsorship and Marketing Director, it was full deck of top music industry leaders putting on the tour, meaning that you could expect the mix of musicians to be leading-edge in various genres of metal, and a production plan that was sponsor-savvy and fan-friendly from the start. This probably accounts for why it’s becoming one of the more popular summer tours in the USA in only its second year.

Packed venues indicated that people were into metal and the other activities on hand. In a down economy, these people saved up for this ticket. For example, Metal Mulisha put on an extreme freestyle motocross show that brought down the house with tricks like heelclicks and no-handed can-cans. Sponsors ranging from Fuel TV, Rockstar, Jagermeister, Hot Topic, RockBand, Affliction, and Harley-Davidson each offered something unique and fun for the fans -ranging from spin the wheel games to winning prizes to coveted autograph sessions with favorite bands.

Revolver, as the magazine and program media sponsor started out with first the Golden God Awards and then full-on coverage from every angle.

Behemoth and rabid fans at Mayhem

Fashion trends from the metal scene indicate that religious graphics, after-life, and ghost motifs are in full demand. Of course this tour is a haven for brands like Affliction, which was a sponsor, but many fans wore the brand just ’cause. DC shoes were popular along with the harder-core side of brands like Volcom, Billabong, Famous Stars & Straps, Dickies, and others. There was also a heavy crossover of music-inspired brands and merch ranging from the Ramones T-shirts and punk shirts to Hot Topic brands and colors -black, red, white, plaid, checkers.

While motocross influences were a major factor in fashion from the fans and merch, so too was basketball, including striped sleeveless shirts from Metal Mulisha -a total crossover. Bits of neon did pop here and there, but mostly in hairstyles rather than nu rave punk found in other youth culture markets. A lot of this has to do with influences from the bands themselves and the fact that Mayhem is a crowd ranging from teens to mid-40s so there’s a mash-up element of styles. Also, metal at its core tends to attract a strong crossover of ethnicities which adds to the range of fashion styles even if black was the essential ingredient. I mean, when isn’t it.

As the pictures will tell, it was mayhem at Mayhem, meaning people had a really good time. When that happens, you know that the ripple effects don’t just leave people with ringing in their ears after the show. Like all of the facets of extreme music, the rolling influences from a successful tour with new fans causes a wave-effect that starts to build, and this one’s got tsunami proportions.

Bullet for My Valentine from London–Matt Tuck

Total favorites with the Berdoo crowd were All That Remains and lead singer Phil Labonte. They played on Warped previously.

One of the few women metal bass players in the biz, here%uFFFDs Jeanne Sagan from All That Remains.

The Black Dahalia Murder guitarists–named after the 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short who was cut in half, drained of blood, and given a “Glasgow smile” according to Revolver.

Speaking of blood. Backstage props.

Devil horns are so metal. And capturing it on your cell of course.

Fans at the front show the mesmerizing power of music.

Guitarist for All That Remains. Probably my best hair-whipping guitar player shot of all time.

Job for a Cowboy from Glendale, AZ and Johnny Davy. He looks like Jesus Christ but the darker side.

Great performance by Job for a Cowboy.

Goth drummer from MadLife. His performance was insane.

Metal Mulisha at Rockstar Mayhem Fest.

A RockBand screamer. This booth was packed all day.

Sponsor SkullCandy and their Hesh headphones debut were much appreciated.

Trivum%uFFFDs guitar player was all over the stage and very good.

Black shorts and plaid vests and sleeveless tops were a part of the fashion scene.

More fashion and fan shots indicating the various levels of black layers and ethnicities present. Tatt-heavy crowd.

Fans in line for an autograph signing. Popular activity onsite. Variety in the crowd was the norm but lots of new younger metal fans which means an explosion is about to happen.