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Concert Reviews:
Despite weather, metalheads enjoy plenty of Mayhem at DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Never let it be said that Detroit-area headbangers aren't a hearty bunch.

Despite rain and temperatures more like September and late July, the metal fans turned out in fierce form Sunday, July 28, for the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival's annual stop at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, holding their own through 10 hours of pounding rock on three stages undeterred by the elements. The bands noticed, too; Machine Head's Robb Flynn even congratulated fans in front of the Jagermeister Stage in the DTE parking lot for forming six circular mosh pits during the group's set -- the most of the tour so far, he said.

"Be proud, (expletives). Be proud," Flynn exhorted.

Johan Hegg of Sweden's Amon Amarth, meanwhile, found the weather to his liking. "This is a pretty cool day here in Detroit," he said in front of the group's Viking ship stage set. "It feels a bit like coming home for us, 'cause were from (expletive) up north."

Fortunately, Mayhem's music managed to heat things up more often than not.

Headliner Rob Zombie brought the heat, literally, during his 70-minute set, with jets of fire shooting into the air from the opening "Teenage Nosferatu..." through to the encore of "Dragula." In between the shock rocker and his band delivered its usual stage spectacle, with macabre costuming, pyrotechnics, an ADD arsenal of visual stimuli and large-scale puppets for "Super-Charger Heaven" (one of three White Zombie songs that were part of the 12-song set), "More Human Than Human" and "Meet the Creeper." Zombie sang "Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown" atop a giant, 80s-style boombox, and Five Finger Death Punch's Ivan Moody joined in for "Thunder Kiss '65," which featured an extended solo section for Detroit-born guitarist John5 (nee Lowery).

Moody and his crew, meanwhile, knew better than to play with -- er, fire. Saluting the Zombie act during FFDP's hour-long set, Moody told the crowd that "instead of competing (Zombie), I brought this" and held up a single lighter, a gesture the majority of the crowd returned as the group launched into its final song, "The Bleeding." FFDP was not without showmanship, however, surrounded by 10 smoke-spewing gargoyles as the five band members leapt and prowled across a platform set up at the center of the stage. Its version of "Bad Company," preceded by Moody's salute to military personnel and veterans in the DTE crowd, was a bit hit, and before "White Knuckles he brought up a selection of youths from the pavilion to help the group headbang through the song.

Moody, who sported four different shirts during the show, added that FFDP would be back in the fall -- supporting a new album that comes out Tuesday, July 30 -- so the eight-song Mayhem set was a buzz-making appetizer for even better things to come.

Mastodon, however, bucked the main stage theatrical trend, blasting through 10 songs with only a rear-stage banner as decoration. The quartet keep things focused on the music -- and on its latest album, "The Hunter," drawing eight songs from that set including an epic show-closing rendition of "The Sparrow."

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