Psycho Las Vegas 2019 Took Me To Hell On Earth And Back
It’s finally here again, carved in stone on the calendar, as it was last year and the two years before that. Psycho Las Vegas, baby! Three days of all things heavy and loud, in a city that truly never sleeps. Four stages, pool parties, countless bands, and a never ending supply of booze! All bets are off, read ‘em and weep, as the great Mr. Kilmister once put it.
My brief for the weekend – if you could call it such – is to get wasted, watch as many bands as possible, and attempt to report back with something vaguely coherent. So, here’s what went down…
There’s been a change of venues from previous years, from the Hard Rock to the Mandalay Bay, so we arrive early to get the lay of the land and check in for credentials. For bands playing in the main events center we are instructed to meet 15 minutes beforehand, outside some difficult to find ballroom, to be escorted into the photo pit. After taking pictures for the first three songs, we’ll be escorted out of the building and not allowed to watch the rest of the set. This is not good news.
Arrive at ballroom. There has been a change in the rules. We can now watch the bands from a ‘press box’. This is better news.
Security check. The first of many.
The actual God of Hellfire Arthur Brown takes to the big stage. It’s probably a little early for his magic to work, but three costume changes in three songs suggests that he might do something special. At 77 years old and having done this since the ’60s, he knows a thing or two about performance.
Escorted through endless corridors to the ‘press box’ missing several songs. It’s not so much in the nosebleeds as in the heavens. Can’t actually see the band, and we’re not allowed to leave unless escorted. Bollocks to this.
Go to the bar un-escorted. Clearly we need a new plan. Maybe just watch the bands on the other stages and skip the events center, although this would mean missing a lot of the best bands.
Drunk and rather annoyed. Decide to go and see Glassjaw at the House Of Blues.
Security check. Glassjaw aren’t what I’m here for. Back to the bar.
Head to the Beach stage to catch a bit of YOB. Security check. Take it as read that we do this every time we enter a different venue. Such are the times we live in.
This is more like it. The Beach stage is outside and literally in a swimming pool, and Oregon stoners YOB are great.
Run into the festival press liaison person. New rules. We can now watch the bands without being led around like toddlers. This is fantastic news! Especially since High On Fire are up next on the big stage.
High On Fire kick ass, as always. Opening with Blood From Zion, they are bowel-movingly loud, and the great thing about Psycho Las Vegas (now that we’re in a better mood) is that all bands get a full set. In this case, an hour and twenty minutes of pure thunder. Brilliant.
Back to the Beach stage for Fu Manchu. It’s running slightly late so we catch the end of Cold Cave, a darkwave/synthpop kinda thing that’s not really my cup of tea. It’s good to see some diversity here, though.
Fu Manchu outside. Cold drinks, scorching heat – 103 degrees! – surrounded by cool people! This is what Psycho Las Vegas is all about.
Would’ve been nice to see all of Fu Manchu, but doom metal giants Electric Wizard are not to be missed. Sure, they play pretty much in the dark, as do many bands this weekend, but with all the craziness on the huge projection screen it looks very atmospheric. And whatever is lacking in lights is more than made up for with volume. Good God, this is LOUD!
Back to the bar to make new friends. Which is not difficult in a place packed with metalheads.
Uber home. This…might hurt tomorrow.
Forgive the tardy arrival, but this is a bitch of a hangover. Thankfully, Carcass can sort this out with the likes of Genital Grinder and Death Certificate.
Hair of the dog. It was a very hairy dog.
CLUTCH! Fuck yeah! Arguably the greatest rock’n’roll band on the planet, they offer up everything from Burning Beard and Noble Savage to The Face and –- yes! -– Spacegrass! As if on cue the entire events center sparks up joints. So much for the No Weed rule. Clutch are, as always, phenomenal.
We’re not allowed to take pictures of The Misfits, but who cares? We’d rather be in the real pit than the photo pit anyway. This will definitely hurt tomorrow, but for the next hour and a half it’s pure paradise. Danzig and Co. are on immense form, bashing through almost 30 songs as the packed crowd goes completely apeshit. Safe to say, the no moshing rule has been broken.
Manage to catch the last half an hour of The Obsessed at the House Of Blues. They’re very good, but I have to sit down.
Feeling rather fragile, but somehow made it to another gig. And it was so worth the effort. Vio-lence are absolutely immense and the House of Blues is jam packed and going nuts for them. Some people may still be drunk from last night.
Stumble across the last ten minutes of Mogwai on the main stage while waiting for Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Thought they were some sort of shoegazer band, but this sounds more like Neurosis. May have to check out more of their stuff.
Another highlight of the weekend, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Granted, they’re another band who play in the dark and they have all the stage presence of a sack of potatoes, but when you sound that good it hardly matters. If everyone at Woodstock had ignored the warnings about the brown acid, we’d have a lot more bands like this!
Swedish stoners Truckfighters are still tearing up the Beach stage in fine style, a nice rumbling groove that is perfect just to sit back and enjoy. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but not everything has to be. Nice and mellow, and completely the opposite of…
1349 are utterly mental and totally unrelenting. If you like Norwegian black metal then you need look no further, and for the next 50 minutes they tear the Beach stage a new ass in quite astonishing fashion. The drummer is so fast that he’s just a blur! Clearly no one has told them we’re all tired, and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t care. Fantastic! Hail Satan, indeed!
Deafheaven begin their set in kinda the same death metal vein, albeit not nearly as ferocious, but soon drift off course into shoe-gazing territory, maybe even a Dream Theater influence. I’m starting to fade, and they’re starting to lose me, but the other stages seem like a very long walk.
So close and yet so far. I really wanted to see Twin Temple, who come highly recommended (as does everything on the Rise Above label) but, alas, the flesh is weak. The only solid to have passed my lips in at least 24 hours was going the wrong way, and I’m pretty sure that nothing solid will be coming out of the other end. It’s time to bid Psycho Las Vegas farewell for another year. It’s been a blast.
Oh look, there’s the Uber sign…