Copied from a Facebook note written by David Marfitt, lead vocalist of Path to Prevail, with permission. Read our article about Path to Prevail here.
What’s up, I’m David, vocalist for local metal band Path to Prevail from Brevard County Florida. I’d like to say real quick, that I wanted to write this out as a detailed piece describing all aspects of the day I had recently, but while writing decided to just let it spill naturally, from beginning to end, no proof reading, no edits or cut and paste, just dump my brain onto this screen and let it be. I actually just finished and went back up to the top of my document to make this little forward, I am not even going to read this, this short story is about the best day of my life, thank you for reading, and pass this along to others who will appreciate my experience! Thank you to everyone in my life that has supported me, held me up when I was down, held me down when I couldn’t keep my feet planted, and everyone that supports the underdogs of great music. Here we go, I hope you enjoy.
So, on May 17th 2012, as I headed north to open up a show in Daytona Beach for DJ Starscream, AKA SID WILSON, #0 of Slipknot, my drummer Tom calls a number given to us in an email from Jagermeister, and myself, our two guitarists Erich Geuter and Alex Verschoor, and my good friend Mike Check proceed to freak the hell out when we are invited to play the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival in Tampa on July 13th.
So it begins.
I’ve been the vocalist for Path to Prevail for about 2 years now, and going from that first couple half assed shows with minimal crowds and a very scattered and disorganized live performance to the giant Amphitheatre off of I4 is amazing, epic, intense, insane, BRUTAL. How the fuck did we get here? Hard work, calculated moves, intelligent decisions, teamwork, perseverance, good friends and fans, the list is huge, as it is with any band that have been making great accomplishments, and I’ve seen it, been around it, but now we’re going to LIVE IT? Yes please!
So, super stoked with yet another fire under our asses, we start pushing to make ourselves bigger, better, more professional. We drop the cash, barely, to pump out some new merch, to finally release our EP entitled Piercing the Paradigm, to be ready to look good when we play this thing in less than two months. We are fucking stoked, utterly and completely.
Fast forward time, let’s push past all the in between B.S. and get to Thursday, July 12th. We intend on practicing, packing up, and heading out to stay in Tampa and get a fresh early start in the morning. As we arrange our sweet new merchandise, fresh off the presses, logically it takes us FOREVER to get everything in order, we have a super quick practice, and head out. We don’t reach our room until well after midnight, knowing that we are to be ready at the fest at 10:30AM. As my band crashes out one by one, all I can do is pace around the parking lot reviewing our newest song that we have literally NEVER played live before, my lyrics and patterns still quite undetermined. I’ve never been truly nervous about a show before, until now. The sun begins to rise, I finally head inside and slowly drift into an uneasy sleep.
Morning comes quick, fuck it was already here before I even slept, and a text on Erichs phone wakes all of us before a single alarm goes off. It’s way too early, before 8 I think, but once we were up it was time to get motivated. No rest for the wicked I suppose. So the team assembles, Path to Prevail and crew pack up and head out to get breakfast and cooler supplies for the day, and make it to the amphitheatre by around 9AM.
So we arrive there and come to find the place has barely even begun to get put together. The HUGE Jager stage was still a couple flat panels and scaffolding with a crew bustling about, there are no tents set up, the smaller Sumerian stage was literally not there at all yet, it was just a giant empty field with an arena in the background. The contrast later would be amazing, let me tell you…
So we were clearly way too early, and we proceed to set up camp about 70 feet behind the stage we are set to play on at 1:30PM, with minimal questioning, eventually begin assembling our merch area and unloading gear behind the stage. Everyone is brimming with anticipation, and we notice the huge line on the other side of the fence…
A buddy band of ours from Tampa called Dark Sermon, who won a battle to play the Sumerian stage, pulls up in their van and parks next to us, equally stoked to be playing Mayhem, now we have friends playing too? Fuck yes!!! Those guys would brave the show to the dead end just like us too, let me tell you!
So the stage manager, Mikey T or Mikey P I believe was his name, informs us that they are behind schedule and to continue to hang tight, we will have a five minute sound check before we play. So we continue to hang out, drink the free Rockstar and free water too, watching the gear from bands like Anthrax, Whitechapel, and Devil Wears Prada get set up on the ever expanding stage. Around 12:30 or so I head over to the fence to check out the line, and I’m immediately greeted by a crowd of people who are there for us! I shake hands prison style through the fence, and suddenly I’m even more excited!
So the gates as far as we know are supposed to open at 1, and we go on at 1:30, the line is huge already, like a thousand people at least, at about 12:45 we finally are setting up onstage and getting ready for sound check. The check goes well, nothing that we aren’t used to, only louder, faster, more pro, the line outside hears as we check to a Behemoth song, get ready Tampa, get fucking ready.
1:30 and we are summoned to the stage, it is time. At the time we didn’t know this, but only VIP ticket holders were being let in, the rest had to wait till 1:45, bummer, and so there were probably only about 50 or 60 people waiting for that first mystery local band. Fuck it, it’ll still be great, let’s do this.
The first song, Desecration of Royalty is the first one, the one I sweated all night in the parking lot, I choked, lol, forgot half the damn words, it’s ok, I scream, make it good and carry on lol, they’ll never notice!!! Once we blazed through that first track, it was all uphill. The set goes phenomenal, it sounds so great, we can hear the bass kicking back across the field at us, and that tiny crowd was growing rapidly, and have been pitting since we started playing. Before our third song, that crowd was ours, they were screaming and yelling, giving horns on demand, being fucking awesome, we saw friends and fans out there too, it was awesome. Tom even at one point had a mic stand fail and fall right in his way as we were playing and I had to run over and fix the problem quickly, without us missing a beat.
We reach the end of our set, and as far as I can tell there were over 300 people packed up there now, and apparently everyone who didn’t quite get in in time to see us could definitely hear and wanted to know who that opening band was. I leap down into the gated area with security and hug and kiss some of the girls we had up front, then tell the whole crowd “we fucking love you!” as I’m barraged with hands all over me for hugs and high fives. My first truly real “rockstar moment,” and it was amazing.
We unload gear and take a breather, hugs and handshakes all around for the band, we killed it, time to hit the merch table. I’ll tell you now, for the rest of the day until the field closed down, there was a steady stream of people hanging out with us, buying our new CD, shirts, stickers, autographs, photos, true love and respect from real music fans. I personally know of three young children who were brought by parents to their first metal show, and we were their first live band they had ever seen in their life. Amazing, how can this day go any better? Let’s take some shots and carry on!
Feeling adventurous, I wander the crowd where we just played, get some handshakes and compliments, meeting the great fans of metal as it should be, the very next band after us is playing now, Upon a Burning Body, the crowd is still growing, those guys are killin it, this is going to be such a fun day… Those guys finish up, and I head over to the other stage to watch our friends in Dark Sermon kill it like they always do, and I’m a little pissed when the sound is run terribly. Those guys are an amazing band, I think they were just too badass for that little stage and shoulda been on the Jager stage instead sounding epic like it should be. But it’s okay, those guys are also on Summer Slaughter, and they fucking killed it regardless of a bad sound job.
Next I head over to watch Whitechapel, never seen, they’re good, but I’m not too into death core, so I only watch for a bit and head back to merch for more autographs and handshakes. More friends are there now, it’s turning into a real party at the PTP benches! So we’ll fast forward more, a few bands later and a storm had brewed up, and half the fest scrambles to keep their tents and merch from blowing away, and the back wall of the stage also starts blowing around crazily! Reveling in a great day with all the chaos and potential rain to make shit real interesting, I decide it’s time to go backstage to watch The Devil Wears Prada, up close and personal, with the nasty weather, huge crowd and all.
As I’m let through the gate I meet some random people by the 98 Rock van, and they start hooking me up with beers, sweet! I head close to side stage and watch DWP kill it, shake the vocalists hand and tell him they were kickass, he was quite pleasant, then I carry on, anticipating Anthrax up next. Ironically this reminds me of 2003 when I saw Killswitch Engage open up Ozzfest in West Palm to have Cradle of Filth close out the same stage. Nine years later, and our band just opened today, and now Anthrax is our closer, fuck yes…
We watch these guys kill it, close as fuck, I hung out and took pics with some friends, met Brent from Mastadon’s cousin side stage, viewed the Anthrax crowd from their point of view, fucking epic, saw Matt Devries of Chimaira chillen as well, surrounded by cool ass people, talked to a few other cool people working the show, then the field begins to clear out and the crowd heads to mainstage.
Once again, I head back to merch and we start packing up, bringing everything back to the truck as the Jager stage starts breaking down. I can hear As I Lay Dying killing it as we get organized, I get stoned, then head to mainstage for the rest of the party, sadly missing the first band, but hearing it well enough to know how awesome it was.
Motorhead is now playing, and I wander the field and vendor areas for a while, meeting more friends and fans and having a few beers along the way, talking to anyone that seems interesting. At a certain point, I run into my drummer and Deathmetal Dave Allison of Metal Messiah Radio, Tampa, and he introduces me to Steve from Deicide, who I mistakingly thought was a guitarist from one of our local bands, fucking embarrassing, then I realize that the Tardy brothers from Obituary, George Fisher of Cannibal Corpse, and multiple other members of those bands were all around me, haha, I was stoned and that shit geeked me out!
Then we realized Slayer was getting ready to go on…
It was time to head down into the pit…
So I will tell you all now, I have never seen Slayer, and when they play with their giant fucking Marshall stack upside down crosses blasting fire in your face the whole time, you WILL get in the pit until you have no breath left in your lungs. It was fucking amazing, oh yes it was, so goddamn heavy, the time of my life. I saw dudes carried out bloody with smashed heads and faces, and steady stayed in that ugly ass pit, because at that moment, no one was gonna stop me or put me down, even when the circle pit was so insane literally EVERYONE was getting trampled. Fucking Slayer.
And then it comes time, for the much anticipated return of Slipknot, the mutant metal monsters that have demolished for over a decade now. I find myself around all the 98 Rock guys again, we’re all clearly fucked up and insane at this point and ready for this final hoorah for our incredible day, quickly go back and let me remind you of what I said about the empty field at 9AM, and I could turn and look and see almost 50 thousand people, screaming and ranting, ready for what most of these people have been anticipating for years now…
The curtain raises, and there are only 8 of them now, but donned in the original red jumpsuits, the stage absolutely incredible looking, “the whole thing I think is sic…” we have an idea of what’s coming, except when they open up with it, the pyro is so loud everyone freaks, and fifty thousand people erupt in total manic chaos.
As far as I’m concerned, nothing in the world mattered anymore, and by the time it was all over, I was convinced that I had the greatest day of my life, on Friday the 13th 2012 in Tampa Florida.