Note: This is a general assignment story, not a review, that I submitted to the newspaper on an early deadline.
DEVORE – Upland band Winds of Plague started off the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2010 in style with their aggressive yet melodic deathcore sound to the cheers of thousands in attendance.
“It far surpassed my expectations,” said lead vocalist Jonathan “Johnny Plague” Cooke with a smile after he left the stage shirtless and sweaty with fans greeting him backstage. “My voice is shot on day one–good times,” he said with a laugh, adding the audience really responded to their song “Decimate the Weak.” from their 2008 album titled “Decimate the Weak.”
Fans afterward said they agreed with Cooke’s pick.
“‘Decimate the Weak’–that’s what I wanted,” said Dixie Lynn, 22, of Palm Springs. Lynn said the band was one of her favorites on the tour. “My boyfriend turned me on to them. It sounds like the new hardcore … more like black metal.”
Michael Witthans, 22, of Yucaipa said he didn’t enjoy Winds of Plague but admitted “I have kind of a hard time telling these bands apart.” He said he was more into bands like Atreyu and groups on the Ozzfest tour like Slipknot.
Audience members Saturday wore plenty of black and many had tattoos that ranged from the interesting to the questionable.
“I see a lot of bad tattoos,” said Bryan “Big B” Warner, 26, of Huntington Beach, in between shooting people with a squirt gun while selling merchandise at the Hatebreed merchandise booth. He said he had shot 20 people with his squirt gun early in the afternoon.
“Mainly chicks,” Warner said, and then he sprayed two women who walked up to his booth.
Every band had a different approach to entertaining audiences but all were able to start massive mosh pits with their aggressive music.
Redlands metal band band Sangre actually threw out tortillas to their crowd on the Jager stage. Later, Shadows Fall lead singer Brian Fair was able to get his audience to yell a profanity laced call and response chant of “Shadows Fall” and swing the microphone over his head.
Not everyone had to watch music. Fans could watch motorcycle riders perform flips and stunts at the Metal Mulisha area or watch radio controlled cars jump on ramps in a special area near the side stages.
Will Williams, 22, of Twentynine Palms, acted surprised when he realized he had spent 15 minutes watching the radio controlled vehicles jump and crash on Saturday.
“I lost track of time,” Williams said and added he was waiting to see Atreyu and main stage performers Lamb of God and Rob Zombie. He described the cars as “pretty sweet” and enjoyed watching them jump and crash.
When asked if there was anything he would change about the festival, Williams said he wished the main stage was closer to the side stage because he recently “ripped a disc in his back” and was forced to use a cane to get around the venue.
Many people wore T-shirts with phrases like “Kill Your Children” or “I hate everyone” and others wore acts scheduled to perform such as headliners like Korn, Lamb of God, and Rob Zombie.
Andrew Kiss, 16, of Hemet and Daniel Kain, 16, also of Hemet both had Mohawk hair designs and Five Finger Death Punch band shirts and said they were at the festival to watch the band perform.
Vendors sold everything from Mexican food to T-shirts that said “F*** Cancer.”
Cesar Delgadillo, of Murrieta, said his Baja Grill was steady but not great early Saturday because people were drinking but not eating yet he was hopeful business would pick-up late Saturday when people got hungry.
“It’s really hard,” Delgadillo said outside of his vendor booth near the Jager stage. “This year has kind of been the worst” with the economy, he said.
Cat Cameron, 26, of Toledo, Ohio was at the “F*** Cancer” booth, a non-profit clothing vendor that sent 100 percent of its profits from selling clothing o help women afford cancer treatment that has a web address of shirtsforacure.com, she said.
“It’s so personal. I’m as much of a therapist as anything,” Cameron said, when asked about selling the shirts to people and the reactions she gets. She said everybody talks to her about losing someone because of cancer, which she has experienced with a friend dying of liver cancer.
Cameron said, like Delgadillo, business was steady but not great mainly because her location was near the main stage, which did not have acts perform until Saturday night.
The festival started at 1:50 p.m. Saturday at the San Manuel Amphitheater, formerly the Glen Helen Pavilion with thousands of fans in attendance.
Officials at the first-aid area at the amphitheater said there were two people who became overheated but recovered sufficiently enough to head back to the festival. One man was seen led outside of the amphitheater in handcuffs.
The traveling festival continues today with a stop in Mountain View and ends in Oklahoma City, Ok. on Aug. 14.