Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Machine Head and more - Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival - Tinley Park, IL 8.5.2011

I attended the ever professional yet monstrous Rockstar Energy Drink MayhemFestival on Friday August 5th and knew from the get-go this was going to be a bit different.  I usually fly solo to mega-big shows and events.  I usually have “work” to do, be it interviews or photos or what have you and I don’t know, it just sometimes makes it tough to do these things when someone is tagging along.  Don’t even get into the guest list situations and the usual absence of “+1’s,” etc.

So I knew this would be a different sort of gig as I was going to be bringing my 12 y/o to the show.  He’s been digging more and more music, gravitating towards music of ‘The Big 4’ and especially Megadeth.  He has the first four Mega CD’s on his iPod, he’s set for now, no?   So his interest in Machine Head is also on a steady rise and seeing as both bands were on this year’s edition of the festival, twas a no brainer. 

I definitely was not on “festival coverage mode” so I wasn’t too concerned with our arrival time, we entered the gates as Suicide Silence was ending.  We headed back to the dressing rooms as I wanted to say hello to Robb and the guys as well as introduce everyone to Max.  Max meeting Robb was a planets collide moment for me, definitely memorable.  Roadrunner UK press goddess Michelle Kerr was here with Metal Hammer scribe Dom Lawson working on the Machine Head ‘fanpack' it's always great to see these long distance friends.  

(Robb Flynn/Max Trakas...sporting a shirt from the Jan/Feb 1988 Dio/Magadeth/Savatage Tour)

We caught several songs from Hatebreed, but I must admit Hatebreed now has so many songs, so many I don’t know and it lessens my enjoyment of their set.  I love their earliest work, but lost em somewhere several years ago.  One of the best live bands around, but not knowing their material loses me. Around the time Hatebreed was shutting down Max and I spent a few watching the Metal Mullisha crue.  Good god, those guys are out of this world crazy.  I never thought I’d be writing about them here, but they were kick ass and this year’s show was one of their most impressive yet. 

There’s something telling about seeing a band’s next era for the first time.  I mean if you take notice of such things, and really pay attention to one or several bands, its interesting stuff.  Because of my interest in Machine Head I couldn’t wait to see the “…Locust” era of the band commence.  I had helped usher in the ‘Blackening’ era of the band back in February of 2007 in Denver.  I remembered how different the vibe of the band was on stage in comparison to the last time I saw them as their “Through The Ashes…’ cycle finished. 

Four years on, Machine Head take the stage victorious before a single note is struck at least that's the feeling I get.  Back on the main stage for another several shows, the crowd is now in the ten’s of thousands are theirs for the next half hour.  Opening with “Imperium” Machine Head plays with an intense swagger but with all the hunger of a band 10 years their junior. “Beautiful Mourning” one of three songs from ‘The Blackening’ was met with a roar as the audience grew. 

Locust” from their upcoming LP ‘Unto The Locust’ out September 27th was played and I was impressed with the reaction, very promising response especially considering how many attendees were seeing the band for the first time.  The song came off without a hitch and gave a hint of the next era of the band.  Definitely darker, groove is there but it’s a much heavier groove, this track needs to be heard live.  “Aesthetics Of Hate” and “Halo” closed out the Machine Head portion of the show in grand fashion.  Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the “guitar duel” between Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel but it’s still kick ass.  A new era begins…

Truthfully, and this is funny, but Max lasted several songs of Megadeth.  Personally, I think he was so used to the records and the intensity being so high on those that modern Megadeth live at least, really do not cause any type of stimulation, thus causing 12 year olds to sorta lose a little interest.  Not total interest but when we invited to grab some dinner in catering, food won the war.  Megadeth were themselves, the songs we saw were good, but they could do themselves a helluva favor by mixing the set up a little here and there.  

That was really about it, the rest of my night was filled with much laughter and thankful to be in the company of the MH family, even if for just several hours.  Cheers to all who made a father and son hang more than memorable.  Xtra special thanks to Randy "Big Unit" Johnson for the photo and not being a dick!