Rockstar Mayhem Festival Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas Saturday, August 9, 2014
This year's Mayhem Festival was more than just a collection of metal bands like Trivium, Asking Alexandria, Korn and Avenged Sevenfold dominating the stage with mind-blowing music that warped the lines of metal genres. It was a festival to celebrate a brotherhood (and sisterhood) of outlaws that's alive and well in 2014, despite a local metal scene struggling for recognition among a landscape littered with pop country, indie and hip-hop/rap artists.
Fans of all ages arrived to honor their metal heroes at the Gexa Energy Pavilion, suffering through a scorching summer day, rude staff members (not all of them, but the assholes seemed to dominate the experience) and water priced at $4.50 (beer was $12) to mosh to a full day of brutal music. Dozens of people hovered around the water misters, while hundreds more visited the first aid tents as the heat index climbed into the triple digits. "It's fuckin' hot" was the most repeated phrase of the day onstage, but fans didn't let the soaring temperatures keep them from enjoying some groundbreaking metal acts like Ice T's Body Count, Cannibal Corpse and Texas Hippie Coalition.
Painted faces, leather masks, biker tattoos, colored mohawks and long hair and braided goatees were the dominate attire, while several blowup dolls called "Bitches" also made an appearance flying high above the mosh pit. It felt like a DFW metal scene family reunion at the Pavilion. Local metal celebrities Jim Crye of Volume Dealer/Primal Concrete Cowboy, Todd Pack of Alcoholica/Horror Cult and Slammin' J of KNON's Hard Time Radio show were enjoying "Pink Beard" shots, a concoction that took J and Crye several hours to tweak, in the Icehouse and taking photos with fans and musicians alike.
But one fan stood out among the festival goers, one who drove his electric wheelchair eight blocks from the nursing home where he lives, past the inner-city parking entrepreneurs accosting cars with $5 parking signs and through the mouth of hell to watch one of his favorite bands, Korn, put on another amazing show. His name is Gerald Michael Martin, or "Michael Moody," as he likes to introduce himself, and he's as metal as they come.
Two years ago, 34-year-old Moody was just like any other Fort Worth metalhead. He liked fast bikes, hard women and heavy-fuckin'-metal. He attended concerts and local metal shows and often pushed his dirt bike riding to the extreme, which eventually cost him a heavy price: the use of his legs.
Moody was riding his Yahama dirt bike without a helmet in Fort Worth when something happened and he lost control. Police officials later told him that his unprotected head slammed into a guardrail, but he doesn't remember the accident, just waking up in the hospital. He was in the hospital for three to four months recovering before being released into a nursing home in Lake Worth, and it was there where the worst of his injuries would occur.
Moody said he was dropped by a nursing home orderly who was moving him out of bed. He broke his neck, which caused him to lose control of his hands. He sued the nursing home and won. "But there's no amount of money that can pay for my hands," he said.
I met Moody in the Lounge area at Gexa as we both attempted to escape the heat of the day. He parked his wheelchair next to me and asked if I could help him get a drink from his cup. I lifted it to his lips, and he drained the rest of the water. I went to the bar and refilled his cup with ice-cold water, then gave him a few more drinks until he was satisfied.
Watching him half-tilted in his wheelchair as if he were leaning back to accept the comfort of the small ceiling fan circulating hot air didn't spark feelings of pity. This guy is a survivor. Life has dealt him a shitty hand, but he still keeps going and doesn't allow his disability to define him or keep him from the music that he loves. He still head bangs with the best of them, even if it's not immediately apparent.
Of course, when a band such as Korn takes the stage, you can't help but head bang with the power of their music.
"In a world of Camo Converse, beards and Black Label Society vests, they were like a burst of fresh air," Crye said after the show. "I thought they looked cool, and their drummer was such a badass player and performer. Good crowd control."
Many fans weren't sure why Korn wasn't headlining the festival, but the guys were jamming in top form as they played hits like "Blind," "Falling Away From Me" and "Freak On a Leash." And the crowd erupted when lead singer Johnathon Davis brought out the bagpipes for "Chutes and Ladders."
Moody was sitting in the handicapped section, head banging with the rest of the crowd. "Sorry for the suckers that can't make it," he wrote on his Facebook page.
For those who did, t was a show that won't be forgotten.