The Mayhem Festival is a touring heavy metal music festival that began in 2008. The festival tours through the United States and Quebec, Canada every July and August. The original ongoing sponsor of the Mayhem Festival is Rockstar Energy Company, and the festival is often called Rockstar Mayhem Festival.
The 2011 lineup of the Mayhem Festival includes old 1980's favorites such as Testament and Megadeth. Other bands include Godsmack, Hatebreed, Machine Head and In Flames. Some bands at the Mayhem Festival play during the entire tour. Others only play on specific dates.
The Mayhem Festival has always included an eclectic mix of well known bands and lesser known bands in its lineup. There are three stages running at all times. The festival goer usually has a choice of three bands at any given time.
One of the most noteworthy things about the Mayhem Festival is that there are scheduled greeting times when you can meet the members of some of the bands. This is quite a novelty compared to the traditional backstage approach of the concert industry. You can meet the members of Megadeth and other bands in person, although it can require a little bit of waiting. The Mayhem Festival brings in thousands of people for each day of the tour, and many of them want to meet their favorite bands.
Unlike most music festivals, the Mayhem Festival has no shortage of side shows. Tour dates usually feature the "Metal Mulisha", a group of motocross stunt riders. Other creative attractions also add to the Mayhem experience.
Aside from sideshows, the Mayhem Festival has definitely had its share of interesting moments. A white clad fan jumped onto the stage during Slipknot's 2008 performance for his ten seconds of fame before being tackled by security. Bohemoth's guitarist made a spectacle out of a can of Rockstar when he skewered it with a spike on his shoe.
Improvisational comedy is another frequent occurrence at the Mayhem Festival. The New Mexico show in 2009 featured an incident between protesting Bible thumpers and a group of police. The resulting theological and political debate revealed the views of one of the cops while he was marching them out of the venue: "I'm a nonbeliever. There is no God. There is no Jesus. There is no Satan. There is no heaven." He was promptly reminded that he was going to die and go to hell. The cop responded by waving to the camera and saying "Hi, Mom! I love you Mom!"
Past Mayhem Festival headliners include Korn, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and Slayer. Slipknot played in 2008, even after band member Sid Wilson injured himself during a stage dive. Sid continued the tour in a wheelchair.