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It’s ‘Mayhem’ at the Mountain

August 4, 2008

By Patrice Wilding, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

Aug. 4–Sunday’s Mayhem Festival at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain more than lived up to its name.

The inaugural summer concert tour featured a plethora of metal acts, including headliners Mastodon, Dragonforce, Slipknot and Disturbed.

Attended by thousands of headbangers and self-described “metal heads,” there were throngs of black T-shirts, long, straggly hair and studded wristcuffs as far as the eye could see.

As the band Black Tide, with all members under the age of 20, ripped through a set that included an Iron Maiden cover and songs off their major-label debut album, “Light From Above,” the true draw of the show became more and more clear. The average audience member was there to be impressed by the music, rather than to try to impress their peers with their appearance or mere presence.

For some, like South Canaan resident Robert Etchie, Mayhem Festival was just another notch in a concertgoing career.

“This is, like, my 1,000th show,” he said, matter-of-factly. For others, like Mr. Etchie’s nephew, Gunnar DeGraw, of Port Jervis, N.Y., it was a heavy-metal introduction to the world of live music.

“It’s awesome,” Gunnar said. “This is more than what I expected.”

After admitting he was “a huge metal fan,” the 12-year old novice said he was most looking forward to seeing main-stage acts Slipknot and Disturbed.

Mr. Etchie seemed impressed by what he saw at the show, saying “I like it so far. The layout’s better than Ozzfest.”

Mayhem Festival, which was sponsored by Rockstar Energy drink and founded by the same people who put together the Warped Tour, at first glance seemed identical to its predecessor. The grounds were set up with three stages that featured several bands throughout the day and dozens of individual tents for performers, most of whom could be found after their performances signing autographs and posing for pictures.

Perhaps the most notable difference between Mayhem and Warped was the replacement of skateboards on half pipes with roaring dirt bikes that performed death-defying, gasp-inducing flips and midair tricks on a ramp in the middle of the action.

Dragonforce guitarist Sam Totman said being on tour with Mayhem Festival for the performers wasn’t that different from “a normal night out in an average town,” complete with social drinking and attempting to pick up ladies. “And failing,” he added with a laugh. “The only difference is you do it every day instead of just on the weekend.”

Contact the writer: pwilding@timesshamrock.com

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