As soon as the rumors started to leak out about this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival lineup, some, including us, were a little skeptical about the lineup filling amphitheaters. It turns out we weren’t the only ones. Tour cofounder Kevin Lyman spoke to the Detroit Free Press and was down on not just the lineup, but the strength of metal as a genre and the future of the festival. In fact, he said the festival is “at risk of going away at any given moment.” The main culprit? The bigger bands:
The bands at the top all demand a certain level of fee to be on tour. Unlike punk rock, metal never knows how to take a step back to move the whole scene forward,” said Lyman, who knows the punk scene well courtesy of his experience as founder and organizer of the Warped Tour, the long-running traveling alternative rock festival. “That’s how punk rock was. That’s how we nurtured punk rock. Bad Religion would take a little less than they could on their own to bring the whole scene forward, so we could make sure we had a good (touring) package around them. Metal doesn’t seem to have that concern, never has, never has since I was working in the clubs in the ’80s. It’s always about a me, me, me thing.
So instead of the headlining band making a little less than they were asking for so it could add more bands, Mayhem was forced this year to streamline from four stages to two. And like Metallica co-manager Peter Mensch earlier this week, Lyman thinks the lack of newer developing bands that can fill arenas is aging the whole genre:
“What happened was metal chased girls away because what happened was metal aged,” Lyman said. “Metal got gray, bald and fat. And metal was about danger. When you went to a metal show, it was dudes onstage; there was some danger in it.”
It’s true that many of the bands that would be able to headline Mayhem have gotten older, but perhaps this year’s lineup is also due to the general touring market this Summer. Lamb of God, Slipknot, and Faith No More are all on the road this summer independently of Mayhem. Any or all of those bands on Mayhem would’ve gotten additional excitement around the tour. The Free Press article says that the only reason Slayer signed on was because they were able to book King Diamond to open for them. Slayer must’ve gotten paid a pretty penny to headline, but was it at the expense of booking other bands, like the aforementioned ones? Lyman said that the bill was the “Best available for what we had to work with.”
It’s not all a downer, however. Both Lyman and Slayer’s Kerry King are optimistic that Mayhem will do reasonably well. Lyman estimates 8 to 9,000 per show would be heading to the Festival this year. Either way, Lyman knows a thing or two about putting on festivals, so even if Mayhem takes a step back next year and plays smaller venues for a year or two, it probably won’t go away entirely. Maybe it can become a destination festival, like Lollapalooza or Rock in Rio. Will you be headed out to Mayhem this Summer? Have you gone already? If you’re skipping it this year, what are the reasons?