With music’s current state of saturation by synths and other electronics, metal has been pushed back underground to the pits of hell.
But on Sunday at the Rockstar Mayhem Festival it was resurrected with Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax, Slipknot and more. The band members and hairlines have shifted over the years, but the fire that people have for these bands has not. Shoreline Amphitheater was packed to the brim.
The bands themselves are as old as many of their current fans (Motorhead, for example, was formed in 1975), so it’d be easy to brush some of these groups off as has-beens. But hearing Scott Ian shred through “Madhouse,” or seeing flames burst from a Slayer emblem while “Angel of Death” blasts a full house immediately torches that notion.
Newer bands are on this countrywide tour as well. As I Lay Dying, Asking Alexandria and The Devil Wears Prada all played earlier in the day to smaller and mostly younger crowds, and there was plenty of debate and smack-talk among the crowd as to whether these bands are truly metal.
Slipknot closed out the night with a dose of insanity. Since the passing of bassist Paul Gray in 2010, the future of the band has been rocky. Different members have expressed contradicting hopes for the group, with singer Corey Taylor saying that if this tour doesn’t go well that the band will split, and that a new album isn’t certain.
Although it was only the second stop of their first full tour since, their set at Shoreline was a good sign. They played tightly, even with their replacement bassist playing from behind stage as a sign of respect.
Members embraced each other multiple times at the front of the stage, which made sense: they’ve stated this is a time of healing for the band, and those intense emotions came out in beautiful anger and sinking sadness during their set.
Art is best made with feeling, and in that moment there was plenty to feed from.