Booking a tour like the annual Mayhem Festival is always a challenge.
The pool of big-time headliners in the heavy-metal genre is relatively small. And some acts make other plans each summer.
This year turned out to be harder than most to book, tour organizer Kevin Lyman said in a recent interview. Competition was stiff. There are two other major festival tours - Uproar and Carnival Of Madness - plus a number of smaller metal/hard rock tours bidding bid for talent, such as Megadeth's Gigantour.
This year, Lyman landed Rob Zombie to headline MayhemFest, but that is the only arena-level act on the bill. The rest of the main stage features Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon and Amon Amarth.
In other years of Mayhem - which began in 2008 - the lineup has generally had a pair of legitimate headlining bands: Slipknot and Slayer last year, for example.
Five Finger Death Punch is a rising star on the metal scene but doesn't quite have the following of those veteran groups.
Realizing he might be a little thin in big-name wow factor, Lyman did the only thing that made sense: "We really focused on the second stages and the undercard, trying to deliver the best second stages we can," Lyman said. "It's always great to close with Rob Zombie. He's always a great entertainer. And (with) Five Finger, we think we put together the best available package."
Lyman likes the depth he was able to bring. One side stage has Machine Head headlining, with Job For A Cowboy, Butcher Babies, Battlecross and Huntress being the other acts on that stage.
The other side stage features Children Of Bodom in the top slot, with Emmure, Born Of Osiris, Motionless In White, Attika 7 and Thrown Into Exile opening on that stage.
"I think that Amon Amarth, I think Children of Bodom are going to be awesome," Lyman said. "Job For A Cowboy is always good. I think it's a really cool little (lineup). It's going to go off. With Machine Head going out there and playing where they're at. It's going to be fun."
Lyman thinks the quality of the side stage acts may be influencing ticket sales. He said advance sales have been OK, but he expects his numbers to improve closer to the show dates for the tour, which hits the Idaho Center Amphitheater on July 2.
"I think what happens, because it's such a good side stage, people are just waiting until the end," he said. "They're going to buy the lawn ticket, go out to the festival grounds, go nuts all day, and they'll just kind of kick it on the grass and watch the show."
"I always thought this tour could be a very late selling ticket, and it's starting to show us that it is," Lyman said.
One factor that is making tours like Mayhem, Uproar and Carnival Of Madness a bit tougher sell is that metal as a genre is in a bit of a transition time. Newer bands that can draw large numbers of fans are in short supply.
Nevertheless, for true headbanging fans, there are few bang-for-your-buck tours that compare to MayhemFest.
"I don't think there's any confusion it's a metal tour," Lyman said. "It's in your face."