The Mayhem Festival was a touring heavy metal festival that took place during the summer. The inaugural season took place in 2008; the festival has since become an annual event across the United States. Most years also include a single date in either Montreal or Toronto, Canada. The tour has been sponsored by the Rockstar Energy Company since the time of its inception. It was assembled by Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, and by John Reese (who was Lyman's partner on the Taste of Chaos tour). On August 2, 2015, Reese confirmed that the 2015 festival would be the last one.
Bands and musical style
All of the touring groups that participate can be classified as hard rock, and most are considered metal. The bands represent a broad range of heavy metal and hardcore punk subgenres, including grindcore, metalcore, thrash metal, death metal, groove metal, power metal, progressive metal, alternative metal, nu metal, industrial metal, and more.
On a nearly annual basis, big-name guests are occasionally brought onto the tour as temporary replacements for the main acts who are forced to cancel a few dates. The first such occurrence was in 2009, when Mushroomhead performed instead of Bullet for My Valentine for three tour dates while they appeared at the European festival Wacken Open Air. In 2010, Avenged Sevenfold was added as an extra performer for two dates only, one of which was on the release date of their fifth album Nightmare. In 2011, Dethklok filled in for Megadeth on the festival's first day, while Testament replaced In Flames on the first two tour dates.
Stages and events
The festival has featured three separate stages each year since the time of its inception: the Main Stage, the Jägermeister Stage, and the third stage that has gone through sponsorship changes. It was known as the Hot Topic Stage from 2008-2009. Silver Star briefly replaced the Hot Topic sponsorship in 2010, while Revolver sponsored the stage for 2011. Sumerian Records took over sponsoship in 2012 and 2013 and a fourth stage has been added on the 2013 festival sponsored by Musicians Institute The Main Stage features four bands each year, while the side stages typically feature four or five each. A large selection of Battle of the Bands winners are chosen to open the Jägermeister Stage upon the various dates each year, one per venue.
Each year the festival has the Metal Mulisha as a side attraction for the fans to watch. Most bands that participate on the tour have a public meet-and-greet at scheduled times throughout the day, upon each tour date. Rockstar Energy Drink, the festival's most prominent sponsor, allows fans to enjoy numerous free samples of its new products every year.
Tours by year
- Mayhem Festival 2008
- Mayhem Festival 2009
- Mayhem Festival 2010
- Mayhem Festival 2011
- Mayhem Festival 2012
- Mayhem Festival 2013
- Mayhem Festival 2014
- Mayhem Festival 2015
For a list of lineups by year, see List of Mayhem Festival lineups by year.