Monthly Archives: August 2012

Rita Ora, England’s Latest Import

  At the age of 21 singer Rita Ora has done more in her life than most, including getting major support from major recording artists including Jay-Z, Steven Tyler, and Drake.  What’s truly amazing about Ora though is her voice, it sounds young at points, yet it is incredibly strong. Both of these are things most of her contemporaries would be able to fathom, yet she keeps a steady head, and keeps on putting out great music.

Ora was born in Kosovo, but was raised in West London after her parents immigrated the same year she was born. Growing up, Ora was very interested in the arts including theater and music. She actually had a couple of roles in small movies during her teens. Eventually she got onto a TV talent show, but dropped out. Ora then started singing in clubs around London where she got recognized by A&R scouts from Jay-Z’s record company.

Today she released her debut album, Ora. The album consists of twelve tracks including three tracks that were written, or co-written by Ora. The album also features the single, “R.I.P.” a track written by Drake. It also features collaborations with J. Cole, Tinie Tempah, and will.i.am. Overall it is a solid release, but I can’t wait to hear the music she will make with another couple years under her belt.

Check out Rita Ora. I guarantee you will not be disappointed by her amazing voice and slightly punk influenced attitude. If talent is what you’re looking for in a pop star, forget the rest of the crowd and check her out.

-B. Harlow

Check Out The Music Video For Rita’s, ” R.I.P.” Below:

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Aerosmith Release New Song, “Lover Alot”

It’s no surprise that I was ecstatic when I heard that Aerosmith was releasing a new track. When I heard it I was even more blown away by this true return to form for the bad boys of Boston. The track is entitled “Lover Alot,” and is probably my favorite Aerosmith track since their 1993 album, Get A Grip. The track is a perfect mold of modern Aerosmith and the earlier grittier sound of the band.

Right off the bat the listener can tell their in for a treat, especially when the song starts off with the drums of the hard-hitting, Joey Kramer. Then all of a sudden the listener gets hit by the riff and Tyler’s vocal on the chorus. It really sticks to the adage; don’t bore us get to the chorus. The verse comes in next and it sounds a lot like late 70’sera Aerosmith. Especially Tyler’s vocal phrasing which in the verse is very reminiscent of the great track “Chiquita.”  I also like how the guitars are very gritty, but it is the thudding bass that drives the verse. The song also features a blistering solo that to me sounds very effect driven, but hey it’s smoking so that shouldn’t matter.

If Aerosmith’s new record is anything like the three tracks I’ve heard so far I’m sure it will be awesome. I can’t wait to hear what comes next from these local heroes.

B. Harlow

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Trespass America Hits The Boston House Of Blues 8/17/12

During the two-week gap between Mayhem Fest and Trespass America, I was full of excitement. I was thrilled to be seeing some of my favorite bands in such a short period of time, and when the day of Trespass America came I was ecstatic. First of all I had passes to meet the guys of Trivium. Secondly it would be my second time seeing Killswitch Engage, and my third time seeing God Forbid. I was also looking forward to hearing some music from two bands I had never heard before, Battlecross and Pop Evil. One was great and the other was ok, but we’ll cover that later.

The House of Blues opened its doors at 4:00 on Friday, by 5:00 the club was about three-quarters filled. The first band to hit the stage was Battlecross. I enjoyed this band very much, in fact for a band I had never seen before, they blew me away. They played about five songs including an awesome cover of Pantera’s, “Fucking Hostile.”

Next up was God Forbid, and I’d have to say they were the third best band of the night. They started off with the great “Don’t Tell Me What to Dream.”  This was shortly followed by “Better Days” which is one of my favorite early God Forbid songs. The band then played “Overcome” which is a great song from their latest effort. They then played “Equilibrium” which is the title track of their latest album and one of my favorite songs. The band closed their set with “The End of The World.” The band sounded great throughout their set, and should have been much higher on the bill.

The next band to come on was Emmure. I don’t understand why they were selected for this tour. In fact I think everyone in the House of Blues was thinking the same thing. They are more in the deathcore camp. The band came out and played a short set that was ok, but really nothing special.

A band called Pop Evil took the stage; truthfully I was not expecting a band like this. They were truly the odd men out of the tour, but took this as a challenge and put together a good set. They may have killed the pit, but fans heads happily bobbed away.

Orlando metal titans Trivium were up next. I’ve seen this band so many times that I knew they’d put on an amazing set, and I definitely was right. I was blown away with what the band did with the short amount of time the band had. They opened up with “In Waves” the title track off of their latest release. This was followed by “Pull Harder on The Strings of Your Martyr” a crowd favorite off of 2005’s Ascendancy. This was followed by “Rain” which is also off of Ascendancy. This was followed by one of my all-time favorite Trivium tracks, “Caustic Are the Ties That Bind.” The way the band changes dynamics in this song is truly mind-boggling, going from heavy to almost ballad like in the span of minutes.  The band then through in a surprise with “Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis” off of 2008’s Shogun. This was the first tour the band had played the song on so I thought it was a real treat. Trivium closed out their set with the great track “Throes of Perdition.” Trivium was definitely one of the highlights of the night.

Killswitch Engage were definitely one of the highlights, especially since it was a practically a hometown show for the band, and you could tell the audience was behind the band 100%. Needless to say I was also ecstatic about seeing Killswitch’s original singer, Jesse Leach back with the band. The band started out with “Rose of Sharyn” and “Fixation on The Darkness.” They followed this up with the new track, “No End in Sight.”  The band then played some more songs, but what really got the crowd going were the last four songs which included, “My Last Serenade,” “The End of Heartache,” “My Curse,” and a great rendition of the Dio classic “Holy Diver.”

After Killswitch’s I decided to take off as I realized nothing Five Finger Death Punch could do would ever top the amazing performances that Killswitch and Trivium put on.

 

-B. Harlow

 

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A Night with Bruce Springsteen at Fenway Park 8/15/12

Bruce came on around 7:30 with just Roy Bittan on the piano and performed a rare, piano-only, version of “Thunder Road.”  That made my night right there. But it only gets better.  Next came a sing-along “Hungry Heart” followed by “Sherry Darling,” “Summertime Blues,” and “Girls in Their Summer Clothes.” Bruce called these the “summertime hits,” and they really were as the beautiful summer evening turned to night.

Next was “We Take Care of Our Own;” the first or many off of the new album, Wrecking Ball. A smooth Transition right into “Two Hearts” with great companionship between Bruce and Little Steven Van Zandt.  Next up was “Wrecking Ball” followed by “Death to My Hometown;” both songs preceding the most powerful song of the night: “My City Of Ruins.”  Bruce had his ever present “story time” before the song began.  Bruce spoke about how ghosts are all around us, not to be scary, but to keep memories.  He spoke of “The man who stood there (the late Clarence Clemons)” “The man who sat there (the late Dan Federici)” and “The man who’s foul pole has been there for all these years (The very recently deceased Johnny Pesky.)

Next came a change of tempo with a cover of “Knock on Wood” by Eddie Floyd, this was quickly followed by a rarity “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?”  Bruce introduced his next song as “something to catch the audience off guard and to make us stand out when we were opening for a band.”  The band tore into the lengthy “Thundercrack” with an outstanding guitar duel at the end between Springsteen and guitarists Nils Lofgren and Steven Van Zandt.  The pace slowed for only a short while when Springsteen played “Frankie;” an emotional song about his brother that Bruce “wrote sitting on my front porch.”  Bruce took a fan’s request to play “Prove It All Night” but with the 1978 intro.  The guitar solos by Bruce and Van Zandt were out of this world and the song hadn’t even begun.  A booming rendition of a popular song to say the least.  Next was a fan favorite: “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”

Bruce downed a Fenway Frank and chugged a Beer on stage, all while strumming his acoustic before diving into “Working On The Highway” which led right into “Shackled and Drawn,” my favorite song off the new album.  The E Street Band played an amazing “Waiting on a Sunny Day” with vocals by a young fan in the audience.  Right in the middle the rain started to come down. Ironic.  Next was one of my all-time favorites “Backstreets” followed by “Badlands” then, previously unreleased “Land Of Hope and Dreams.”  A powerful trio to say the least.

There was no real encore, but I guess you could call it a 30 second break before Bruce came on playing “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” a CCR cover.  Followed by “Rocky Ground” with great vocals by Michelle Moore.  Then the Band busted out “Born to Run” followed by “Detroit Medley” then an awesome “Dancing in the Dark,” where a lucky lady got to dance with Springsteen on stage.  Springsteen grabbed another fan poster requesting “Quarter to Three;” a Gary “U.S.” Bonds cover.  Bruce playfully refused to play it until Little Steven and a young fan from the audience doused Bruce with a soaked sponge.  Next was the superb “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” with a pause and a standing ovation for Clarence Clemons, right after the line “The Big Man joined the band.”  An emotional tribute of photos was shown on the big screen.  Finally, Dropkick Murphys bassist Ken Casey sung on stage during the final song “American Land.”

The night was phenomenal to say the least.   Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band put on the best show I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to a lot of shows.  I highly recommend attending a Springsteen concert at least once, whether you are a fan or not.  It’s a breathtaking experience.

Late Clarence Clemons’ nephew has replaced him on saxophone.  The boy has big shoes to fill, but he’s doing a damn fine job, and the band and audience feel the same way.

-Z. Guida

Bruce Springsteen, August 15, 2012. Fenway Park

Thunder Road (Piano only)
Hungry Heart
Sherry Darling
Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochrane cover)
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
We Take Care of Our Own
Two Hearts
Wrecking Ball
Death to My Hometown
My City of Ruins
Knock on Wood (Eddie Floyd cover)
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Thundercrack
Frankie
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Working on the Highway
Shackled and Drawn
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
Backstreets
Badlands
Land of Hope and Dreams

-Semi-encore-

Who’ll Stop the Rain? (CCR Cover)
Rocky Ground
Born to Run
Detroit Medley
Dancing in the Dark
Quarter to Three (Gary “U.S. Bonds cover)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
American Land (With Ken Casey from the Dropkick Murphys)

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Who are Four Year Strong?

One of my favorite things to do is listen to local music, and one of my favorite local bands happens to be Four Year Strong. Not only are Four Year Strong one of my favorite local bands, but over their eleven year existence have broken into the mainstream, and also have become one of the biggest names in Pop-Punk.

Formed in Worcester, MA in 2001 and consists of vocalists and guitarists Dan O’Connor and Alan Day, bassist Joe Weiss, and drummer Jackson Massucco. All together the band has released four albums, and they’re constantly touring behind the albums. They have shared the stage with a wide variety of bands ranging from the happy sounds of Hellogoodbye, to the Hardcore of Every Time I Die.

The band plays their own unique style that is a mix of hardcore and pop punk, which their fans have deemed, ‘Beardcore.’ As many bands have said before they stylistically wanted to fill a void in the music world, playing music that had stylistically never been done before. They successfully filled this void with the release of their first full length, It’s Our Time.  It’s Our Time gained Four Year Strong label recognition, and by 2007 they had released their label backed album, Rise or Die Trying.

In 2009 the band through the world a curve ball by releasing a collection of covers. The record was called Explains It All, and shows the bands wide range of influences from the grunge of Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins, to the easy listening of Alanis Morisette, to the metal of Pantera. The album really did explain the bands unique sound.

In 2010 the band followed up 2007’s, Rise or Die Trying with their record, Enemy of The World. This album is probably my favorite by Four Year Strong, and consists of eleven killer tracks including “It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now,” “Tonight We Feel Alive (On A Saturday),” and “Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride.”

In late 2011 the band released their most varied record, In Some Way, Shape, or Form which stylistically shows more of the bands hardcore influences. It was obvious when fans picked up the album that this record was a more serious record especially from the first track, “The Infected.”

Four Year Strong is a great band who will continue to get bigger as they move forward. Their unique blend of influences makes a great listening experience for all that choose to listen to their music.

-B. Harlow

 

Check Out the Band’s music Video for “It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now” Below:

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Progressive Music’s Past and Future

What is it about progressive music that makes me tick? Is it the musicianship? Is it the songs? Is it the respect I have for the bands? All these factors add up into a love of progressive music. Since my childhood I’ve been listening to bands like Genesis, Yes, and Pink Floyd. But it wasn’t till my late teenage years that I really developed a love for the music after I discovered Coheed & Cambria, Mastodon, and Tool. All of these bands were influence by the great prog masters, but what they did was meld it into their own style. I enjoyed this music more and more, and eventually start digging back further to bands like Rush, King Crimson, and Emerson Lake & Palmer.  I love progressive music, but I wonder what its current state is? Will it last? Will it survive into the next generation? All valid questions if you ask me.

When listening to music that came out in the early 60’s you get this real feeling of simplicity. Then by the late 60’s the music started to get more complex. It was at this time you could tell people were fed up with the same old pop bands, thus bands like Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and King Crimson started to emerge. Listeners wanted something more complex, something they could sink their teeth into. Bands also started writing more concept records.

Bands also were starting to use more complicated arrangements thus adding to the listener’s experience. Musicians like Genesis’ Steve Hackett were digging into odd time signatures and classical influences. Hackett also made many innovations such as inventing finger tapping.  Genesis added so many new things to progressive music like dynamics, light and shade, which made their music stand out from the other music of the time. Also making them stand out was front-man, Peter Gabriel. Its Gabriel’s odd mannerisms and terrific voice that made them stand out.

Then there was Yes.  The musicians in Yes were pretty much an orchestra composed of five people. Whether it was Howe’s nimble fretwork, or Rick Wakeman’s keyboards, Yes took the required musicianship in progressive music up a whole notch.

Then you have King Crimson. King Crimson was one of the first bands that really went overboard with experimentation. You didn’t know whether King Crimson’s music was mush or plain musical brilliance. You can listen now and see how overwhelming and innovative they must have sounded. They were one of the first bands that really experimented, and for this we can thank them.

 

One of the key things in progressive music was the album, and more importantly the concept album. The undisputed kings of the concept album are Pink Floyd and their album, The Wall. It was within that double album that musicians got to hear what a true concept was. They even followed it up with a movie of the same name. It also showed the importance of writing great songs, that even though were still progressive in nature were understandable and listenable by the general public. Songs like “Hey You,” “Mother,” and “Comfortably Numb” do just that.

One of the most important bands that needs to be mentioned when talking about progressive rock is Canadian power trio, Rush. Rush took the influences of British progressive music melded it with their other favorite hard rock bands. By doing this, Rush made a new sound that was a little heavier and more majestic than bands that came before them. Rush took musicianship and songwriting to another level that not many have reached.

In the 80’s as music was getting heavier, so did prog. Bands like Queensrÿche which was a very straight ahead metal band who eventually moved into progressive music with the release of their pivotal album, Operation Mindcrime.

When Queensrÿche started to lighten their sound they left a void in the progressive world. Thus the proverbial torch was passed again. This time it was picked up by the Berklee schooled musicians, Dream Theater. It was this combination of early prog influences like Yes mixed with the thrash metal of Metallica that made Dream Theater amazing. They opened a whole new realm and legitimized progressive music so that bands like Tool could come to the forefront.

In the early 2000’s two of the most important bands that came out were Atlanta’s, Mastodon and New York’s, Coheed & Cambria. These two bands are now holding the proverbial torch. Both of these bands took the influences of Genesis, King Crimson, and Rush and added more heavy influences. Both of these bands also started embracing the concept album that had been neglected since the late 80’s. Coheed even embraced a concept saga consisting of six albums so far.

But who will hold torch for progressive music in the future? Could it be Periphery the Bethesda, Maryland based prog-metal band? Could it be Georgia’s, Baroness? It remains to be seen, but I do know progressive music will continue on, as a very important part of our musical landscape.

-B. Harlow

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Joss Stone Releases Second Collection of Covers, ‘The Soul Sessions Volume 2’

Nine years after releasing her debut album, The Soul Sessions pt. 1, Joss Stone is back with the sequel to that collection The Soul Sessions pt. 2. The album which contains eleven tracks was recorded in New York and Nashville with a backing that included bassist, Ernie Isley (The Isley Brothers). The album is also produced spectacularly with all the tracks emphasizing Vocals, percussion, and guitar.

The album starts up with the Labi Siffre song, “I Got The…” which is a spiced up version of the 1975 soul hit. Stone added a new twist to this song with just her voice that gives it a soaring quality opposed to the original with is more rhythmic. Hip hop fans might also recognize the middle groove in this song as it was used in Eminem’s “My Name is.” Next up is the song “(For God’s Sake)Give More Power To The People” which was originally done by the soul group, The Chi-Lites in 1971. Stone’s voice stands out in this harmonica drenched mix. “While You’re out Looking for Sugar” is up next, and is definitely one of the stands out. All the instruments gel cohesively with Stone’s voice, making it a very enjoyable listening experience. The next stand out track is entitled “The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind)” which is one of the only real ballads on the album. The track builds up quite naturally into a soaring chorus where Stone shows her vocal prowess.

All eleven tracks on the record are great. I loved how Stone also picked relatively unknown soul songs. She also makes these songs her own, which is very important when you’re doing a cover because without your own spice it gets very text-book and bland. This album would make a good playlist for driving or casually hanging around the house, so take a listen.

-B. Harlow

Check Out the Studio Video of  “While You’re out Looking for Sugar” Below:

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Mumford & Sons Release New Track, “I Will Wait”

One of the most interesting things in the music business recently has been the return of folk rock acts. One of the most prominent of these acts is the British four-piece, Mumford & Sons whom have taken the music world by storm selling 2.2 million copies of their debut album, Sigh No More. These numbers are impressive especially with the music business in a huge slump, but also for a debut album that’s unheard of. Fans hopefully will respond with equal or more enthusiasm to their upcoming sophomore release, Babel which is due out September 25th.

Yesterday fans of Mumford & Sons got to hear the first samples of the album when the band released their new song, “I’ll Wait.” Upon first listen I really wasn’t blown away, but then when I listened to the song with better headphones I was blown away by the musicianship. The guitars and banjo seem to mix together on this track really well. They only tweak I think could make the song better is if they moved the piano up in the mix more, it would have given the song a lot more movement. Vocally the song is very impressive, and contains many soaring vocals, but also many smooth parts.

I’m very happy to hear that Mumford & Sons has a new album coming, and when it is released you can count on me being a first day buyer. This band puts out great music!

-B. Harlow

Check The Song Out Below:

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Struggle’s Hybrid of Hip-Hop and Country

Nashville based rapper Struggle has been playing the underground hip-hop circuit since the early 2000’s. Only recently however has he received national attention with his flawless mix of hip-hop and country, “Outlaw Shit.” The interesting thing about the track is that the chorus is sampled from the Waylon Jennings song of the same name. Jennings also happens to be Struggle’s maternal grandfather and famed guitarist Duanne Eddy is also his other grandfather. Struggle’s grandmother is female country singer, Jessi Colter.

To me Country and Hip-Hop are on opposite sides of the spectrum, but on further examination the things the Jennings, David Allan Coe, and Willie Nelson sang about, are the same things that many modern rappers rap about. Subjects such as family, love, violence, hard times, and good times are shared throughout both genres, so it would be no surprise that in the future we may see a very potent mixture of the two. That’s what Struggle attempts in this song, and by all measures he succeeded.

The song starts off with a verse by Struggle which is very deep about the struggles of his life. Then the chorus kicks in with the sample of Waylon Jennings’ classic song. The next verse talks about his hustling lifestyle, and again the Waylon’s verse comes in. Yelawolf is up next and he sings his verse in a very smooth manor, and again Waylon’s chorus comes in, and ends the song.

-B. Harlow

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Mayhem Festival 2012- Comcast Center 8/3/12

For the last four years I’ve attended the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Over those four years it has become one of the highlights of my summers. Mayhem Festival is a great experience all around. From the time doors open, to the time the last band finishes concert goers get to hang out, listen to great music, and enjoy time with their favorite bands and their friends.

This year definitely featured one of the better lineups, which included: Slipknot, Slayer, Motorhead, Asking Alexandria, Anthrax, As I Lay Dying, and The Devil Wears Prada. Needless to say, I was impressed by all of them especially, Asking Alexandria whom I had never seen live before.

The first band I saw this year was The Devil Wears Prada. I was blown away by their tremendous stage presence, especially Mike Hranica who put on an amazing show. They played some great material including: “Born to Lose,” “Danger: Wildwan,” and “Mammoth.” I was also blown away at how tight all five musicians where onstage, all were playing in the pocket which in a band with very rhythmic music is very complicated.

Next up were the amazing, As I Lay Dying. Not once during their set did anyone in the audience look bored. Front-man Tim Lambesis put on a great show, as he screamed through many of the bands classics including “Nothing Left,” “Confined,” and “The Sound of Truth.” Bassist Josh Gilbert did an awesome job, providing the clean vocals throughout the set. Guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso were also awesome, and put on a fire work show.

One of the best things I ever heard was when Anthrax asked to headline the side stage, where there would be no seats, and their fans would be able to ‘Wardance’.  They started their set off very strongly performing the classic, “Caught In a Mosh.” They followed this up with the awesome, “Got The Time.” Then they threw in one of my favorite newer songs, “Fight Em’ Till You Can’t.” Both times I’ve seen Anthrax perform this song live it brings the crowd up a notch. Next up was the Trust song, “Anti-Social,” which the band covered on 1988’s State of Euphoria. The band closed their set with the classic songs “Indians,” “Mad House,” and “I Am the Law.” The band was excellent, especially lead singer Joey Belladonna who sounds just as he did on those early records.

Opening up the main stage was, Asking Alexandria. I missed most of their set, but caught the last couple songs and snapped a couple of pictures. The band seemed to know how to work the crowd, especially their female fans who kept screaming throughout their set.

Next up was Motorhead who always put on a great show. Lemmy came on stage, and immediately said “We’re Motorhead, and we play Rock and Roll.” After that awesome mission statement the English three-piece was off to a fast paced start launching into the classic tracks “Bomber” and “Damage Case.” After those two songs guitarist, Phil Campbell asked the crowd if they wanted it louder. The unanimous answer was, yes. The band then closed their ten song set with the classic track, “Ace of Spades.”  Sadly the band didn’t play one of my favorite tracks, “Overkill.”

As night and darkness approached, hell awaited behind a white curtain. When this white curtain dropped Slayer blasted into their song, “Disciple.” The whole amphitheater went absolutely crazy, and the people in the pit started moshing. The band’s stage set-up was great, it featured two inverted crosses made of Marshall cabinets and Slayer’s symbol in the middle. The band also had full pyro which added to their ominous stage presence. The band led by lead singer/bassist Tom Araya charged through a set of classics including; “Angel of Death,” “South of Heaven,” and “Raining Blood.”

Headlining the night where the eight men of Slipknot, who put on a set packed full of energy. Corey Taylor led the band like a ringmaster through a set that contained 14 songs. The band started off with rhythmically intense “(Sic).” Next up was “Eyeless” a fan favorite from Slipknot’s first album.  “Sulfur” was up next, and this got a tremendous response from fans. But the song that probably got the strongest response was “Wait and Bleed.” You could tell that the crowd was in the bands hand as soon as Taylor sang the song’s lyrics. “Before I Forget” was up next and the pit really started to open up.

The highlight of Slipknot’s set was eleven songs in when Taylor stopped the set and gave a speech about the late Slipknot bassist, Paul Dedrick Gray. Then Taylor asked the audience to sing the song “Duality” in memory of Paul. I don’t think anything during the rest of their set topped that.

Mayhem fest was a great time, I enjoyed all the bands I got to see, and I think that the rest of the fans felt the same way.

-B. Harlow

Check Out this Video  Highlighting The Events of The Day:

Check Out This Gallery:

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