he Mayhem Festival is a touring metal festival that takes place during the summer. The inaugural season took place in 2008; the festival has since become an annual event across the United States and Quebec, 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 is Lyman's partner on the Taste of Chaos tour).
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 sub-genres, including thrash metal, death metal, nu metal, metalcore, deathcore, power metal, industrial metal, progressive 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.
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. 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.