Okay, so I’ve been doing this gig for a while now and I’ve enjoyed ALL kinds of music for as long as my memory serves. I’ve been to all kinds of shows in all types of venues, but I have never seen the likes of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and I figured I should give it a try. After all, I did have some official Shure business to attend to, but I decided, ‘Why not make a day of it?’
I arrived to the World/Tweeter/First Midwest Bank Amphitheater (lots of names for this place since 1990) in the Shure mobile, not to be missed by the masses and illustrating the fact that I was there for official metal business. The moment I got out of the car, I could hear the throaty bellow of a gentleman on stage greeting the early dwellers in the venue’s parking lot… this was gonna be a little different from those evenings spent with the latest trendy indie bands.
Again, I did have a purpose aside from people watching and becoming fully immersed in the latest metal stylings of the Butcher Babies and Huntress… both really awesome by the way! I was there to meet Bruce Reiter from Five Finger Death Punch and Darren Sanders from Mastodon. I had some new Shure gear for them and was hoping to troubleshoot a few issues the guys were having. We made our way to the stage area and unloaded the loot. For sound guys and techs, this is their Christmas; new toys always get them excited. Once on stage, you realize just how massive it really is. I’ve been told it is one of the largest stages in North America, and I can see where they get that distinction.
Anyway, after handing over the gear to new endorsers Five Finger Death Punch and taking care of a few extra pieces for long time endorsers Mastodon, I decided to hit the parking lot to take it all in. The main stage was not going to start melting faces until around 6:30 that night. At a glance, the Mayhem Festival has the appearance of any other, only up close, it’s a whole different vibe that sets it apart. Yes, you have your tents and booths giving away stuff and selling stuff, but them you also have your band merchandise tents, and the bands actually show up and meet with their rabid fans to sign autographs and take pictures. I have to say, it’s always cool to see bands connecting that closely with their fans; everyone from the bands in the parking lot to the bands on the big stage. Actually, that type of fan appreciation is what gets you to the big stage, and these guys get it. Honestly, in all of my years of doing this gig, the metal guys are the nicest and most laid back of the bunch, without a doubt.
As I mentioned before there was a total vibe at Mayhem and the people watching was definitely TOPS! There was so much individuality going on, you could strain your neck as it was coming at you from all directions. Need I mention, the local police force looked a little nervous…
One more call to action brought me to the stage again to help Darren from Mastodon with a guitar wireless issue he’d been having. Lucky for both of us, I paid attention in class and picked up a few tricks from our rocket scientists in the applications department. After a few button clicks on the wireless unit and a few power chords on the guitar, our problems were solved. Word got around that someone from Shure was on site… perhaps it was the car outside emblazoned with Shure logos. Anyway, I quickly found myself on the other side of the stage troubleshooting with the guitar tech for Amon Amarth. If you haven’t heard these guys yet, do yourself a favor and give them a few minutes of your time.
So, it seemed as if all in metal land was right with the world and I could go back to taking it all in. It was a long day/evening, but I will return next time, with a little more experience and appreciation under my belt. Thank you Mayhem, it was a honor and a pleasure.