[Click image for more photos]
Since the lineup for this festival was announced in April, I’d waited patiently for July 24 to arrive. It’s not every day you get to see King Diamond, let alone sharing a venue with other acts like Slayer and Hellyeah. Covering a festival is not fun and games like many probably believe. Yes, I meet people. Yes, I interview rock stars. I also hustle my ass off between bands, dressing rooms, crazed fans and sweltering heat to get that awesome picture or story. That’s just what Abby Hartman and I did on July 24, 2015.
I’d heard rumors of attendance being low at this year’s Mayhem Festivals, but didn’t want to believe them. It’s impossible to imagine Slayer and King Diamond not packing the place. When I arrived at Jiffy Lube Live, I just kept telling myself that it was early. There was a line forming at the gate, and more people were filing in, so there was still hope.
I had an interview scheduled with Mike Hranica from The Devil Wears Prada, so that was my first priority. Now let me tell you, normally there is a press area and a little bit of organization to a festival. This year there was no press area, and all interviews were being handled by the bands’ camp and tour managers. This is not the easiest thing to deal with when you’re used to dealing with PR reps and the like. The interview with Mike went off without a hitch, however the scheduled interview with Hellyeah’s Tom Maxwell didn’t happen, and I’m not even sure why.
While interviewing Mike, I missed all but a few minutes of Shattered Sun. I was pretty bummed about it because I really like those guys and I hear they put on a great show. However, I did get an interview with them later in the day which almost made up for it.
I hung around the Victory Records Stage for quite awhile and caught acts like Sworn In, Thy Art is Murder, Whitechapel, Kissing Candice and Feed Her To The Sharks. I missed Jungle Rot while interviewing Marcos from Shattered Sun. My favorite from the Victory Records Stage that day was Sister Sin. Anyone who knows me knows how hard I am on bands with female singers. Why? Because I just am. I know they already have it hard enough, but people tend to think it’s trendy to like a female-fronted band. However, Sister Sin’s Liv Jagrell is pretty badass if you ask me, and I hope to see them again and again.
In between the last two or three bands on the Victory Records Stage, I caught The Devil Wears Prada and Hellyeah. I’d never seen The Devil Wears Prada before, and found myself wishing I had. During my earlier interview with Mike Hranica, he mentioned he wasn’t feeling too great, but he didn’t show that on stage at all! Those guys have some serious energy. Their music isn’t something I’d listen to every day, but I’m definitely listening to it right now. Hellyeah has never disappointed me. I’ve seen them several times, but this would be the first time in a few years. They’ve gotten heavier, louder and more in your face than I remember. That’s something I appreciate not only as a fan, but as someone who has seen more than her fair share of shows. Some bands tend to get softer, but don’t count on Hellyeah doing that anytime soon.
Next was my main reason for waking up that day. You see, Abby Hartman isn’t just a writer for Shockwave Magazine; she’s also my daughter. Abby, is short for Abigail, an album by King Diamond. (Yes, that’s exactly where I got her name. It was one of the few things her father and I could agree on.) This was the day/night that Abby and I finally got to see him. I have four words for you: well worth the wait. I have friends who aren’t into him, and that’s okay. I always say, King Diamond is an acquired taste. He’s not for everyone, just for those who can appreciate his vocal range, songs that are stories that go on and on, amazing guitar solos, and the fact that he’s still stealing the show to this day. I wish he’d have actually sung “Abigail,” but I’m sure there’s always next time, and there WILL be a next time. I’ll go see that man as long as he’s around. I don’t know if I can ever say enough about him. His band was totally on point, the theatrics on stage were just plain awesome, and King’s still got the pipes many singers envy. Oh, and he’s got class, which many seem to lack these days. It’s rare that you see an artist and their band walk along the stage, thanking people for coming out. People could learn a lot from them.
King left the stage and I started to notice people leaving too. I was hoping maybe they were just leaving for refreshments, or for the restroom, but many of them didn’t return for Slayer. Slayer’s Kerry King shared the stage with King Diamond earlier, which I thought was pretty damn great. Unfortunately tonight the pavilion wasn’t full for Slayer. It was disappointing to look around and see space, but that just meant more room for me to enjoy Slayer. Now, the build-up to them taking the stage I can understand, but waiting until their first song is halfway over to let photographers in the pit is a little frustrating. (We only get the first three songs to shoot!) Nevertheless, Slayer exploded onto the stage, along with tons of fire and pyrotechnics. We were treated to 75 minutes of Slayer — 75 minutes of metal that kicks your ass so hard, your heart stops. It was f@cking Slayer, for God’s sake. My head still hurts from thrashing around. Anyone who left early certainly missed out.
I can only hope that this isn’t the last year for this festival, although the rumors are swirling.