Amazingly, even with a stretcher or two headed to rescue an overheated patron, the concertgoers remained in relatively good spirits. Hell, it might even be completely understandable if a brawl or two broke out under the miserable weather conditions, but the Maryland Heights crowd stayed focused and attentive on what they came for: scores of bands that delivered the best in contemporary metal.
Acts like Red Fang and Kingdom of Sorrow (featuring Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta and Kirk Windstein of Crowbar and Down) were well received early in the day on the Jagermeister Stage, while All Shall Perish and Suicide Silence kept the momentum up over at the Revolver Stage. As soon as one band ended on one side, another would immediately crack into their own set. For those donning jeans and t-shirts and sweating profusely and even the gals decked out in nothing but micro-bikinis this back-to-back setup was a godsend.
Things seemed to be going along smoothly until about the five o'clock hour when it seemed some of the audience might have hit the dreaded wall. Swedish melodic metal band In Flames took the stage on the Revolver Stage to only a slight flurry of applause. After about the second song, vocalist Anders Friden (obvious peeved) proclaimed, Do you want me to tell others that you should never ever play in Missouri? Or do you want me to say that Missouri is the place to play, man? The humor-tinged threat most definitely got through to the haggard crowd, which seemed to be resuscitated to quality moshing status almost immediately.
One of the biggest draws for the smaller stages was without a doubt Trivium. Even as In Flames emerged victorious at winning the crowd over, there was an even larger group of fans waiting to get a prime look/listen at Trivium. The guitar duo of Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu delivered the virtuosity as expected, ripping through new tunes like In Waves and Dusk Dismantled.
The conclusion of the Trivium set signified two pretty important things: Sunset was upon us and the main stage beckoned. So without much time to spare, the crowds made their way down to their reserved seats in the main stage area to check out the first of the headliners, Machine Head. Robb Flynn had his new Love Death baritone Epiphone V on hand to deliver tracks like The Aesthetics of Hate (which he dedicated to Dimebag Darrell's longtime girlfriend Rita Haney) and the new track Locust. Even though the audience was still meandering into various seats, Machine Head's dual guitar parts were a highlight of the evening.
Although slated for a relatively early performance, Megadeth often seemed to be the crowd favorite from mere reaction to the mere name of the band early on in the day. Frontman Dave Mustaine made it clear that the band had little time onstage and would stay focused on the music, with Wake Up Dead, Head Crusher, and Holy Wars all making the cut. Lead guitarist Chris Broderick once again brought the lead work to life by offering only the subtlest twists on the original compositions.
Godsmack's reliable stage show wasn't perhaps a huge standout (at least until the end), but it still offered up hit after hit to an enthusiastic group of fans. I Stand Alone, Cryin' Like A Bitch, and Awake received monstrous reactions, but the biggest pleaser was undoubtedly when the boys set the stage for their traditional drum-off between frontman Sully Erna and Godsmack percussionist Shannon Larkin. Regardless of how much bigger Godsmack becomes (and it's difficult to get much larger in the rock/metal world these days), it's a moment like the drum-off that always seems to convey a down-to-earth vibe within the band.
The closing act was Disturbed, with vocalist David Draiman owning the stage with his charismatic stroll. One could perceive the strut as egotistical, but hearing Draiman's live vocals (which sound amazingly close to the original recordings) really does make you understand why Disturbed has become such a powerhouse. Guitarist Dan Donegan's tone was crisp as ever, enhancing songs like Stupefy, Prayer, and The Animal.
It's always hard to gauge the true effect of a concert plagued by sweltering heat advisories, but even after 10 hours standing in uncomfortable temperatures, the crowds at Maryland Heights' Mayhem Festival remained fairly energetic from start to finish. Sure, the trek out of the venue might have looked slightly akin to a zombie flick, but those are the breaks when you have a day jam-packed with fist pumping, head banging, and circle pits.