Mayhem Festival 2013 burns down Indianapolis

What do you get when you mix $4 beer, hot babes, with loud metal music?  You get a little Mayhem; Then throw in a lot of moshing, some physical danger (mostly in the crowds body surfing and the motorcycle guys doing flips and tricks), and you’ve got yourself an all day metal festival FULL of energy and excitement- Mayhem Festival.

This year the weather was perfect with a blue sky and a high of 75- It was a B-E-A-UTIFUL Day.  Last year was hot, the ground was dust, and just the overall mood was not right for Mayhem.  Indianapolis scored a date within two weeks of Mayhem’s end and by this point the bands were in rare form with none of them lacking passion and energy.

Many fans were worried about the turnout for this year’s show considering it didn’t have as many top billed bands like last year’s show lineup.  The main stage last year featured The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying, Motorhead, Slayer, and Slipknot.  Those are some big shoes to fill and this year there were a lot of new bands- most of which either hadn’t been to Indiana or have only played a few times minus the final three main stage acts (Mastodon, Five Finger Death Punch, and Rob Zombie).

On the side stages Thrown into Exile came on the stage first and within 30 seconds were in full speed breakdowns with riffs and vocals that could scourge a cat.  The energy that was put into the earlier shows definitely didn’t go unnoticed and was much appreciated.  Before Exile’s set ended of course the circle pits had begun.

Next was Huntress, coming into this set a lot of people probably knew who the band was and had probably heard their studio stuff but what was witnessed was probably a surprise some.  Like any other band, female-fronted bands can sound really good live or really bad live but when you mix in a little black magic, some Wiccan symbols and imagery, and some talk about the darkness that covers our world and that’s how the show for Huntress went.

They had lot energy and fans definitely responded.  I think I speak for a lot of other fans when I say this I’m interested to see their show again!

Battlecross made their way to the stage next and within seconds bodies were smashing into each other and dust was flying in the air as people moshed.  Full of insane energy these guys chugged out a speedy set with no fillers; definitely a fun show.

Next was probably the band that most had been waiting for all day.  Five Finger and Rob Zombie would obviously be good shows (more on those in a bit), but the majority of the crowd was really hoping and praying Butcher Babies would be just as fantastic live as they look on their Facebook and Twitter pages and as good as they sound on their smash debut album Goliath.

Assuming command like battle-hardened veterans the dual female-fronted band didn’t disappoint. Full of passion and a very energetic band with excessive head-banging and screaming, Butcher Babies delivered the goods.

Plus with their album being out just a few weeks prior it was basically an album release tour so hearing most of what the band thinks are fun songs off of Goliath was great because the band showed that they can deliver the album live as well.

This is a good sign of a band that will stick around for a while in my opinion.

There’s no other way to describe Job for a Cowboy’s concert other than you go to a violent fight and a Job for a Cowboy show breaks out.  This show was so physical it busted my sunglasses and I’m glad the glass didn’t shatter my eyeball.  There were so many body surfers that security was having trouble handling them all, much to JFAC’s delight.

Near the end of the show there was a huge wall of death and it was insane!  The only one that that’s crazier comes courtesy of Lamb of God.

Next was Machine Head, who took the stage to fans chanting “Machine Fucking Head, Machine Fucking Head.”  Anytime a band or fans can add “fucking” somewhere in the middle of the name that’s when you know you’ve got a very loyal fan base and just a kick ass name for a band.

Ripping through their set and with the bodies coming non-stop to the stage with several circle pits Machine Head never relented.  The fans were eating it up and the show was fantastic. Machine Head even commented on how physical Indy’s show was compared to others just by saying “Goddamn Indy you’re proving why we need to come back here more often!”

Amon Amarth was the main-stage opener and, though they have garnered an international following, they were playing for the first time to many fans in Indy.

But immediately with a huge dragon ship with Oden and Thor battling Loki in the background for artwork it was clear this was a Viking Metal band and it was going to be a loud pillage to the finish and that’s exactly what happened.

It was exciting to see this band as they took the stage.  The dragon head was spewing out smoke and the five-piece Swedish band didn’t seem to disappoint.   Even joking about the weather being too hot for them it was a treat to get to hear them live.

Mastodon took the stage next and, compared to the rest of the bands, appeared to put on the weakest show of the day.  Although they had plenty of energy most fans just didn’t feel it.

Call me crazy but it just sounded like a bunch of guys up there with cool artwork for a back round that didn’t sound very good.

Five Finger Death Punch commanded the stage next and Ivan Moody and friends didn’t let the Knuckleheads (those are Five Finger Death Punch fans for all you wimps) down, ripping through “Under and Over It” and “Bad Company” and even playing a little game with fans called “Ivan says.”

Moody is always defying security for shows and promoters by bringing up what he calls the next generation of heavy metal people by bringing up young kids to the stage and having them head bang and flip off all the fans.

Continuing their set with “Hard to See” and “Coming Down,” Five Finger had the crowd in their hands and carefully delivered each song including their new single “Lift Me Up” and as always the fan appreciated the drum solo which saw drummer Jeremy Spencer wearing a devil mask.

Rob Zombie came up next and with lots of very cool stage props and a TON of FIRE the show was just plain fun.

Performing fan favorites like “Superbeast,” “Meet The Creeper,” “Living Dead Girl,” “Never Gonna Stop,” “Feel So Numb” and more, Zombie even introduced fans to a few new songs that will be fan favorites- “Dead City Radio” and their cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band.”

No Rob Zombie show is complete without insane stage antics, cool imagery and props, and some great costumes and no Rob Zombie show is complete without “Dragula” and there was no shortage of any of these.

Zombie knows how to deliver and he looked in prime form and after 11 hours of solid heavy music this year’s Mayhem Festival was complete.

-Matt Robinette

Click here for photos of Butcher Babies

Click here for photos of Motionless in White

Click here for photos of Battlecross

Click here for photos of Amon Amarthe

Click here for photos of Mastodon

Click here for photos of Five Finger Death Punch

Click here for photos of Rob Zombie