Touting the motto “the hardest show on Earth,” Mayhem featured some ’90s nu-metal favorites and some the biggest names in the hard rock game today including Korn, Rob Zombie, Lamb of God and Colorado favorites Five Finger Death Punch, whose front man Ivan Moody was proud to announce to his hometown that Denver was the first sell-out stop on the tour.
FFDP was the first up on the main stage and when the curtain came down (well, half-way came down due to technical difficulties) at 6:20 p.m. the crowd, who had been battling the 90-plus degree temperatures since 2 p.m., found new life at the site of the night’s first headliner. Led by Moody, who started the set with elaborate red and white face paint and a bulletproof vest, kicked their set off with “Burn It Down” from the band’s most recent album, “War Is the Answer,” and 2007 mega-hit “Never Enough.”
The majority of FFDP’s set was pulled from 2009’s “War Is the Answer,” which was inspired by the political, religious and military conflicts throughout the world. “These are the battles being fought all the time,” says Moody. “And war is always the answer.” Moody, an active supporter of the military, brings amazing energy and passion to the stage with songs like “No One Gets Left Behind” and the timeless rock cover “Bad Company” — which Ivan explained is also a nickname given to the band stemming from a recent trip to play for the armed forces in Iraq.
Moody, who is one of the most popular musicians to come out of Colorado in recent years, generated huge reactions from the crowd by commending his hometown for not only supporting himself and FFDP but for supporting rock and metal music as a whole, particularly the efforts of 106.7 KBPI and their close friend Willie B. “Denver never ceases to amaze me,” says Moody, who ended their set with the band’s debut single “The Bleeding” and a crowd-wide Mile High salute. “The fans here are amazing.”
For the rest of the night the main stage acts continued to fuel the sweaty sold-out crowd. Lamb of God satisfied the heavy metal-junkies and Rob Zombie brought the show to a new level with his Hollywood horror film theatrics. Known for their over-the-top stage props (including gigantic moving robots, skeletons and monsters) and pyrotechnics, Rob Zombie hit the stage at 8:30 in dramatic fashion amid billowing red smoke and flashes of fire that you could feel 20 rows back. It was arguably the most memorable set of the day.
The set was heavy on old favorites like “Superbeast,” “Living Dead Girl,” White Zombie’s hit single “Thunder Kiss ’65” and the band’s most popular song “Dragula” — which Rob Zombie performed for the band’s encore atop a multistory goat head skeleton as confetti covered the venue.
Between sets, fatigued concertgoers roamed the green like zombies but once Korn began their set at 10 p.m. with the familiar sounds of “Here to Stay,” they were once again re-energized and ready for one more round of fist-pumping music. The hard-edged metal band stuck to familiar classics in the first part of their set with “Right Now,” “Did My Time” and “Freak on a Leash”; front man Jonathan Davis even wore his trademark Adidas tracksuit as a throwback to earlier Korn days.
Their hour-long set was everything you’d want it to be — fans got to hear a majority of the songs that made Korn one of the biggest nu-metal bands in the world including “Somebody Someone,” “Falling Away from Me,” “Blind” and “Shoots & Ladders” — one of the only times you will hear bagpipes (played by Jonathan Davis) used during a heavy metal concert. They also showcased their latest single “Oildale (Leave Me Alone)” from their ninth studio album, “Korn III — Remember Who You Are,” which is bringing the older, more emotional and angst-driven style, and the new style of Korn together.
Another notable aspect of the band’s appearance was the stage design. With giant oil wells and pumps on each side of the stage, flaming oil barrels and a backdrop of industrial towers, the design created an ominous feel that was simultaneously fitting of the message the band is sending to the public — and their music industry peers. (Motivated by the BP disaster and its devastating effects on the environment, Korn launched a boycott against using the company’s gasoline while on tour this summer, and formally announced that they will not be using any BP products for their touring vehicles. They’re also strongly encouraging other touring artists to do the same.)
All in all, an exhausting, brutally satisfying day.
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Paige Montgomery is a Denver-based freelance writer. Check out more of her work on MySpace.
Todd Radunsky is a Boulder-based photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.