Launched in 2008 by Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, the Mayhem Festival is like the skate-punk fest's hard-rockin' cousin. Featuring a daylong blast of metal and heavy rock, Mayhem includes some crossover with Warped, but it's mostly a louder affair. The tour actually evolved from Warped, which started to lean heavier in the mid-2000s. At that point, Lyman put together the second festival to cater exclusively to artists who make your ears bleed.
"I had bands from every genre of music wanting to play Warped," recalls Lyman. "So I said, 'What is going on in metal that they don't have a tour for these bands?' I looked into it, and most of the time, the artists were paying the producers of whatever tour they were on. And I thought you needed talent there — it can't just be who has the money."
The first two dates of this year's tour drew a total of 42,000 fans, a Mayhem record. Because the festival's demographic is "a little bit older" than Warped, Mayhem appeals more to working-class audiences, which factors into how Lyman schedules the shows. "With Warped, we can book the show for a Monday, and everybody comes out," he says. "With Mayhem, we have to be cognizant of what city we're playing on what day of the week and understand that some people work during the day."
Here's a rundown of the festival's heavy headliners this year, with Lyman's take on what each act brings to the tour.
"The nice thing with them is that they put on a killer live show. That's the thing about teaming up Slayer and Slipknot. They're both known for their live shows. Slipknot hasn't toured the U.S. over and over again. We chose them to close the show. It's hard to follow Slipknot."
"They always bring it live. They're pro. They get out there and just kill it. They go along well with Anthrax."
"I always wanted to have them on this tour. They round out a huge veteran package. They don't tour as much as they used to. Lemmy has definitely slowed down his touring schedule, so it's nice to have them on this tour."
"They've been around a long time, and they should be playing our main stage. But they said they would play the second stage. The crowd the other day was insane. You can see a video of their first set on the Mayhem website."
"They're doing great. They're a great live act. They win fans over every time they get to play for more people. Critics said I couldn't have Whitechapel playing with these older metal bands. But I'm like, 'Why not?' These bands like all kinds of metal music and many of the fans do too."
I the Breather
"They had a great first day. I wasn't as familiar with them when we started booking the tour. They are killer. Kids were going straight to see them from the minute we opened the doors the other day."