Last Night: Anthrax, Motorhead & Slayer at Mayhem Fest

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See more metal and Mayhem from Wednesday in our slideshow.

Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion July 11, 2012

This year's main-stage bill is probably as close to a genuine, bona fide legacy that Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival will ever come up with, ever. Between Motorhead's old-guard Lemmy N' Roll, Slayer's wall of death, Anthrax's bedrock thrash, and Slipknot's brutal theatrics, the festival can't do much to improve on this year's entertainment.

Barring a time machine, a priest, a witch doctor, some 'ludes, Paranoid-era Black Sabbath, a reanimated Bon Scott leading AC/DC, and any version of Pantera before The Great Southern Trendkill, of course.

For the bill and the price, this year's Mayhem was a must for any Houston metal fan. Plus, where else are you supposed to wear your homemade Slipknot mask without being arrested for first-degree felony WTFery?

Anthrax got things started on the main stage right at 6 p.m., leaving most of the people who had consulted with the schedule of the fest's site shit outta luck. The legendary thrash group was supposed to headline the Jagermeister side stage but a last -minute change had them playing while fans were still busting the hatches.

The guys only played five songs in their short half-hour set and were done, but managed to make an impact. The guy in the "I Am the Law" tee looked bummed out he only got to see, well, "I Am The Law," and it was their set closer.

I should probably be precluded by law enforcement and the high court of public opinion from ever covering another Motorhead show, but Nathan Smith was hanging at the Jager stage so I had to watch them. I am huge, huge 'Head fan and everyone should see them at least once. It's not like Lemmy and his crew aren't giving you enough chances.

The band played the standard festival set they have been playing for a few years now, touching on classics like "Bomber," "Stay Clean" and ending with the massive attack of "Ace of Spades" and "Overkill."

Slayer shows seem to take nothing out of the band -- it looks freakishly easy -- but their crowds are worn out by the midpoint of the set. That's a good thing. A Slayer festival set list is shorn down to the bare and bloody basics, though I was excited to hear "Disciple" from God Hates Us All (released on September 11, 2001 no less) mixed among World Painted Blood material.

By the time they came out for their "encore" -- they left for thirty seconds really -- the crowd was winded but excitable, with "South of Heaven" and "Raining Blood" raising internal temperatures but not coming close to the aggression that would come from the Slipknot crowd.

Still Slayer played one of the best versions of "Seasons In the Abyss" I have ever heard out of them, and their set design -- inverted crosses made of Marshall amps and bathed in flames -- was like a (my) wet dream.

Slipknot had not been in Houston since a two-night stand at the former Verizon Wireless Theater in early 2009, so the crowd was noticeably rabid for their masked and gruesome Iowa heroes. The band was running with a man down last night, as guitarist Jim Root (or #4) is temporarily out with a burst appendix.

The band has also been playing sans a visible bassist since the death of founding member Paul Gray in May 2010. The turntable and sampling duties seem to have largely taken up the slack in their lineup while Donnie Steele plays bass offstage.

Slipknot shows are something to behold, even if their lyrical content frustrates you (teeny, angsty, pain-ridden) you will be at least amazing that they can make their sound with a handful of drums, a guitarist, and some mixed media. Sid Wilson's turntablism is now quaint and endearing after the fall of rap-metal, but for them it's a valuable component.

Lead singer Corey Taylor is a different person behind his #8 mask, and a far cry from his solo and Stone Sour personae. At some point you have to wonder which character is the real Taylor: The masked angry marauder in the 'Knot or Stone Sour's sensitive radio guy. For my money, I will take angry over cuddly.

This all being said, I hope for the sake of the Maggots (Slipknot's Juggalo-style fan nation) that the band comes back for a general-admission show. It's hard to get hyped for "Wait and Bleed" while under a pavilion trapped in an aisle and a seat.

Personal Bias: What the fuck does "bias" mean? You think I smell? I wore deodorant to the show. Of course I have a bias, I bought a Motorhead hat before the gates even opened, and during Slayer I was screaming like I was at a One Direction show.

The Crowd: I've said it once before and I will say it again, metal in 2012 is a family thing. I saw plenty of young families, some gray mullets, tons of older rock chicks, and whole lot of smiles. Yes, even during the Slipknot set, when it felt like the venue was coated in angry psychomagnotheric slime.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Bath salts aren't really bath salts, they just call them that so you can buy 'em at the store and shit, Dad."

Tweetin' In The Wind: During the Slipknot set I asked the Rocks Off Twitter feed to fill in the blanks: "Slipknot is Arcade Fire for people who ___________ "; the responses I got ranged from "SNIFF GLUE," "DO BATH SALTS," and my favorite, "Were bullied in middle school."

Random Notebook Dump All the Slayer and Slipknot merch looked the same if you squinted your eyes.


Caught in a Mosh Fight 'Em Till You Can't Antisocial Indians I Am the Law


Bomber Damage Case I Know How to Die Stay Clean Over the Top The Chase Is Better Than the Catch The One to Sing the Blues (Drum Solo) Going to Brazil Killed by Death Ace of Spades Overkill


Disciple War Ensemble Die by the Sword Hate Worldwide Mandatory Suicide Altar of Sacrifice Jesus Saves Seasons in the Abyss Hell Awaits Dead Skin Mask Angel of Death


South of Heaven Raining Blood


(sic) Eyeless Sulfur Wait and Bleed Before I Forget Disasterpiece Gently Vermilion The Heretic Anthem Psychosocial Duality Spit It Out


People = Shit Surfacing 'Til We Die

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