SCRANTON – It was appropriately scorching hot on Saturday, Aug. 4 when thousands of heavy metal fans ascended Montage Mountain for the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival to see the hellworthy rockers in Slipknot, Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax, and many more throughout the day and long into the evening.
While many attended for the big-name headliners, West Scranton resident Eugene Lucas came to see As I Lay Dying, who he believes belonged on the main stage.
"I came to see second stage bands. That's who I care to see. I grew up being made fun of for wearing saggy pants, studded belts. People at the Mall at Steamtown would say, ‘Pull up your pants!' But we were doing good things. We didn't drink. We watched hardcore music, we listened to hardcore music, and it was good," Lucas said.
"I think this (festival) is a good avenue for other people to just see it. I'm staying all day, even for bands I don't necessarily care to see. I'm more into death metal, but I appreciate artistic people and every form of art… Music is art and should be spread. Everyone should come to understand it because that's understanding everybody else. Once you understand it, you let loose of your stereotypes."
This year, local acts were also given a chance to shine on the Sumerian Records Stage, located next to the festival's Jagermeister-sponsored second stage. Wilkes-Barre-based "grave rock" band The Curse of Sorrow were one of several acts from around the state who were well-received by eager fans.
"It's (expletive) amazing, but it feels right. It feels like we're supposed to be doing this right now. The overall excitement – I can't even explain it, man. It's ridiculous. I'm glad we played our first Mayhem show here in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA. It's our hometown. We get to rock out with our homies," singer Nick Necro said excitedly after their energetic set.
Baltimore, Md. metalcore act I, the Breather were one of the first bands to take the second stage in support of their latest album through Sumerian, "Truth and Purpose." Despite being surrounded by devilishly theatrical imagery, particularly from co-headliners Slayer, the Christian band had no reservations about joining the tour and having a good time.
"Sharing a tour with maybe one of the most Satanic bands in the genre of metal is kind of intimidating, but at the same time it's kind of a challenge because you want those metal fans to appreciate it just as much as we appreciate a band like Slayer for who they are. We don't have anything against a Satanic or a secular band or whatever," guitarist Chase Kozlowski commented.
"The reactions we've been getting are breathtaking. I never would have dreamed of playing in front of like 8,000 people every day. I can't take it for granted. It's hard to take in. it really is," added singer Shawn Spann.
Another Christian metalcore band, The Devil Wears Prada, shared these sentiments while playing both the second and main stage over the course of the tour as they promoted their new live album/DVD, "Dead & Alive." They found their fellow musicians to be a tight-knit group of entertainers from different generations who worked together to secure the future of hard rock.
"We've done a lot of support tours and we've been doing a lot of headlining tours, especially with (our latest studio album) ‘Dead Throne.' I never really feel like I'm trying to compete against the other bands our have to be the headliner or have to be better than the headliner or anything like that. For me, I know personally I just want to play better every day," explained vocalist Mike Hranica.
"There's no point to try to outdo some other band. If they're doing awesome, it's not like you can't do awesome as well," bassist Andy Trick agreed.
British rockers Asking Alexandria opened the main stage with their own riotous brand of rock n' roll, which is described in albums like 2011's "Reckless & Relentless" and a short film called "Through Sin and Self-Destruction." Hoping to move away from this destructive lifestyle, singer Danny Worsnop said their next studio album will contain more positive messages after overcoming issues with drug and alcohol addiction.
"I'm not a metal singer. I don't like metal music and I don't listen to metal music. I'm a rock n' roll singer. I listen to rock n' roll and I sing rock n' roll. Asking Alexandria is merely a metal band with a really, really good rock n' roll singer, and I think separates us just instantly and gives us a different angle," Worsnop said of the band's music.
"It's amazing to be out on this tour. All the other bands are so cool and they're such good guys. It's nice to mix with everyone and bond with everyone."