Slipknot, Slayer and the rest of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival certainly brought the noise to Saratoga Performing Arts Center Tuesday — turning in what could be a contender for loudest show ever at the venue.
With two stages out on the lawn during the day, and four acts taking the amphitheater stage beginning at 6 p.m., there was no shortage of heavy rock ’n’ roll to be enjoyed, nor metal heads to enjoy it. From 1:30 up until 11, the crowds sweltered in the heat, slam dancing and screaming, as each act topped the next until Slipknot’s devastating closing set.
The crowd was estimated by Tim Tobin, marketing manager for LiveNation, to reach roughly 10,000 before the day was over, and by Anthrax’s headlining set on the Jagermeister stage at 5:20 there was already a decent crowd gathered. Many in the audience showed up early for the side stage acts — including STEMM, I The Breather, White Chapel, As I Lay Dying and The Devil Wears Prada on the Jagermeister Stage; and Dirtfedd, Upon a Burning Body and Betraying the Martyrs on the Sumerian Stage.
“It’s been awesome; this is a great atmosphere,” said Sam White, 23, of Albany, who came to the show with fellow Albanian Dave Looney, 24, to see Slayer.
The headbangers in the crowd came from all generations — much like the bands on the bill. Dennis Nye, 64, of Saratoga Springs, and Nadia Sidarous, 33, of Troy, both showed up early in the afternoon, and were looking forward to everyone on the bill. “It’s an amazing show,” Sidarous said.
The crowd wasn’t all local. Others, like Ashley Benjamin, 18, and Bill Coon, 20, came out from Syracruse to see headliners Slipknot.
Throughout the day, the sun beat down on the masses, but things began cooling down in the evening during the main stage acts. Slipknot took the stage at approximately 9:30, making use of the darkness with the most visually stimulating set of any band that performed. Besides the obvious spectacle of eight full-grown men in red jumpsuits and horror masks running around and smashing into each other onstage, the band utilized the occasional explosion, and even some fake snow on the eerie “Gently” mid-set.
Vocalist Corey Taylor gave the most nuanced vocal performance of the evening, going from a bassy croon to a sandpapery growl mid-line on “Wait and Bleed” and the epic “Vermilion.” The band’s thick, grinding sound was anchored by guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thompson — with Root handling the occasional shredding solo on “Sulfur” and the aforementioned “Vermilion.” The band’s passionate energy rubbed off on the crowd, as the crowd traded vocals back and forth with Taylor on the surprisingly affecting “Before I Forget.” At one point late in the set, Taylor dedicated the band’s performance to late bassist Paul Gray, before tearing into “Psychosocial.”
Appropriately enough, the sun set during the darkest band on the bill’s set. Thrash titans Slayer pounded through an aggressive 13 songs, barely stopping for breath in between each onslaught as multiple mosh pits began forming on the lawn.
Highlights included “War Ensemble,” with bassist Tom Araya pushing his shriek to the extreme, and the punishing “Mandatory Suicide.” Throughout, guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt (filling in for a still-sidelined Jeff Hanneman) traded of solos that were more squealing and atonal than technical — but that’s the whole point. The group took an encore after the main set, coming back with their strongest performance on the thrash classic “Raining Blood.”
New York City thrashers Anthrax offered up a powerful set to close out the side stages, getting plenty of fist pumps — and of course, moshing — on “Caught in a Mosh.” Notably, Shadows Falls drummer and local celebrity Jason Bittner filled in for Charlie Benante, and was a highlight of the set, pounding out double-bass fueled rhythms on “Got the Time” and “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t,” a highlight of the set from the band’s just-released “Worship Music” album.
Britain’s Asking Alexandria kicked things off on the main stage in the amphitheater, pounding their way through alternating slabs of sludge and eerie atmospheric moments on molten epics “A Lesson Never Learned” and “Dear Sanity.” Lead singer Danny Worsnop was the focal point, rasping encouragement to the slowly-growing crowd in between guttural growls on “Breathless.”
Things truly kicked into high gear for Motorhead’s hour-long set. Keen-eared fans who saw the band at the Glens Falls Civic Center in February may have noticed that the band played the exact same 11-song set this night, but no matter — if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. The fearsome trio, led by bassist and vocalist Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, covered most of the band’s best-known songs, from steamrolling set opener “Bomber” to a savage run-through of “Overkill.”