Rob Zombie at Rockstar Mayhem Fest, 2010.

Photos by Tom Wallace,
Story by Kathleen Gasperini

The Rockstar Mayhem Fest kicked-off appropriately enough in the heat-bed of the Inland Empire at the Sam Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, CA on July 10, 2010 with thousands gathered to check-out their favorite bands, headlining Korn, Rob Zombie, Lamb of God, Five Finger Death Punch, Hatebreed, Norma Jean, and Atreyu. It was a blazing hot day as usual in this part of the world, but the grassy knolls of the amphitheater and park area provided a beautiful backdrop to the heavy scene.

Rockstar Mayhem for the uninitiated is now in its third year. Founded by John Reese and Vans Warped Tour director Kevin Lyman, plus the crew of 4 Fini and Darryl Eaton from CAA, it’s a well-run, tight tour with 26 dates marching through the country in the blazing heat of the summer. Which as any metal fan will attest, is only proper.

The scene on Saturday, if any indication of what’s to come from this tour, will be one of the hot tickets of the season as thousands showed up and all negative reports of a bad music tour summer subsided. At least on this day. Fans we talked to were more than pumped to see a line-up of many of their favorite bands on the main stage and a variety of up-and-comers on the side stages, Jager and Silver Star.

Welcome to the Rockstar Mayhem Fest kick-off.

To experience Rockstar Mayhem, fans usually traverse the entire festival grounds, which it is becoming known for. And to be a part of such tours like this, it takes a variety of other oddities and events to round-out the fact that you’re actually going to see more than music because it is an all-day festival. The primary example at Rockstar Mayhem is the ensemble act of the Metal Mulisha freestyle motocross team, founded by freestyle pro Brian Deegan and Larry Linkogle. Metal Mulisha pulls off 3 performances throughout the day featuring some of the best freestyle motocross tricks in the industry. It’s quite a spectacle to see freestyle moto pros such as Deegan, Wes Agee, Derek Garland, Ryan Hagy, and others suddenly launch hundreds of feet into the air doing one-handed can-cans while say, 3 Inches of Blood or Chimaira are playing nearby.

Metal Mulisha takes off–one of 3 performances.

On hand too of course, are metal vets such as Mistress Juliya, Full Metal Jackie, and comedian Big Jay Oakerson reporting live on radio, onsite, photo ops, TV, you name it, plus Beacher’s Madhouse with their Oompa Loompa troupe singing the “Doopity Doo” dance ala rap version. Sponsors such as Jagermeister, Fuel TV, Rockstar, Harley-Davidson, Silver Star, Revolver Magazine (and their official program which is a keepsake to Mayhem peeps), among others also have to come to the table with cool entertaining booths and give-aways or else they just aren’t worthy. Of course they all seem to know what to do and indications from the line-ups at most sponsor booths mean that they scored fandom—and not just from hosting band autograph signings -which by the way, were insane in terms of the lines.

Band merch areas as always provided some excellent sourcing of new trends in graphics. Not to be confused with neon, emo cartoony gore graphics from other music genres this summer, Rockstar Mayhem provides the dark-side -more moto, MMA, metal, and some rockabilly. It’s the Inland Empire incarnate. This year, there’s more red and black -gore graphics to be sure and on the horror side as per usual for metal, but lots of interesting statement pieces too, military green in colors and fonts, plus for guys the presence of kilts, and on girls, lots of corsets and super high Converse-type sneakers and boots.

Couple from the Rockstar Mayhem Fest kick-off. Vans and Converse, tank tops, suspenders, and tatts. Yellow is key to offset the white and black.

From the bands, the requisite fire pots, flash bombs, smoke machines, and insane drumkits added greatly to the shows. What’s interesting is when you see the juxtaposition of someone like Jonathan Davis from Korn backstage before his set, in the daytime, checking his equipment, and he’s wearing his dreds in a nice, contained, albeit GIANT bun, wearing nerdy glasses, with a cute kid beside him. This tour has some nice, smart people -as seen with Hatebreed%uFFFDs savvy with new media twittering and FBing their fans and newbies with unexpected prowess.

Five Finger Death Punch was first on the main stage, giving a solid performance, pausing to say they’d just gotten back from Iran where they picked up the name “Bad Company.” Understandable.

In This Moment, featuring Maria Brink, who won the Revolver Golden Gods Hottest Chick in Metal, brought down the house (even though it was outside and in the daytime when they played) with some serious pipes, a stage presence featuring of course her blue tatts, and sounding like Bleeding Through. Other special daytime performances included Shadows Fall and frontman Phil Labonte’s 5-foot dreds. His hairwhips took out a few photogs.

Shadows Fall frontman Phil Labonte had 5-foot dreds. His hairwhips took out several photogs in the pit.

Overall, the smoothness behind the mayhem is what makes this tour work. Like clockwork each band is onstage and at their best -costumes, platform boots, leather, and pyrotechnics. Metal is so obviously rocking the USA right now if it ever went anywhere to begin with (other than Europe who started to claim it, those hooligans).

Rob Zombie…from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Rob Zombie%uFFFDs performance was pyro-hot. Detailed suit worked well especially in the green light.

Fans for the side stages in the daylight for Rockstar Mayhem.

Fuel TV booth at Mayhem was going off. This lovely lady had her hands full with scores of people lined up. They gave away Fuel TV drawstring backpacks which proved to be useful for swag and the Revolver program for autograph signings.

Norma Jean, like Atreyu, used to be on the Vans Warped Tour but make better sense here.

Hatebreed getting the fans in a frenzy. Hot performance and a clear fave with attendees.

Couple from Mayhem headed to see the daytime bands on sidestages. All day festival brought out loads of fans. Her corset is typical fashion fare for this crowd.

3 Inches of Blood–fresh off their album tour Here Waits Thy Doom. Very gauntlet, high falsetto, Iron Maiden-esque. From Vancouver. Give it up for them since they were one of the first to go on (after Winds of Plague) in the hot hot heat of the day and kick-off of the tour. Totally delivered.

Five  Finger Death Punch had THE most amazing drumset. Just returned from Iran. Got the nickname “Bad Company.”

Harley-Davidson area was swamped and they of course had amazing bikes on display.

Jagermeister booth was also full all day with their blow-up big tent and shots.

Mayhem merch featured bear-like horror graphics. Keepsakes.

Metal Mulisha floats through space at Rockstar Mayhem.

Norma Jean–a former Vans Warped Tour band swinging over to Mayhem.

Pink Mafia Merch. Knucklebuster in tanks are key for the ladies.

Flashpots from Rob Zombie and lead guitarist. You can see here why Rob has also moved into creating horror movies.

Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe–this band was a favorite. They believe that there is such as thing as “justified anger.”

Typical accessory trends of metal and Mayhem with the Rockabilly-esque bandanas.

Coffin guitar case.

Zombie fans, but their fashion is a statement (other than Zombie) with the bold retro sunglasses and some neon, white cut-off denim shorts.

More fashion with the low white metal belt and red latch.