The Joint was definitely the place to be at Psycho fest on Sunday. From 4:20 onwards, you had a hard-to-top lineup of Fu Manchu, Dead Meadow, Candlemass, Baroness, Sleep…and some not-so-nice guy named Alice. While there were a few great bands playing on the side stages, too, it was hard to justify leaving the main concert venue for most of the evening. I even loaded up at the buffet that morning cuz I knew I wouldn’t have time to eat!
Now, I thought I’d be starting my day off with Virginia veterans Valkyrie at Vinyl, but due to an unannounced lineup change, I ended up watching Tombstones outta Norway play their first gig on U.S. shores instead. Can’t say I was too disappointed–this post-sludge outfit is one heavy vegetable!
Fu Manchu probably should’ve been a bit higher on the bill, but it’s hard to argue with the logic of putting them in the 4:20 timeslot. Although they had a well-established set list, some dude up front kept yelling for “Pigeon Toe”–which happens to be the eighth track off their ’99 album Eatin’ Dust–and they actually played it for him. I guess when you’ve all been jamming together for years, you have the ability to honour semi-obscure requests. Kudos to you, Fu!
Been a while since I’ve seen Dead Meadow; I think they’ve got a new drummer in the past couple years. Their low-key, heavy psychedelic sounds sure sounded great on the big stage, though!
Candlemass was one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing in Vegas–one of the few remaining major names to cross off my doom-metal bucket list. And while it would’ve been nice to see ’em with Messiah Marcolin or Johan Langquist on vocals, current frontman Mats Leven can wail with the best of ’em–he did Side A of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus justice, and I can’t say I was disappointed.
Now, I stopped being a Baroness fan when they stopped being a metal band, so instead of hanging around the main stage, I headed out to the pool to catch ASG, a melodic sludgy outfit that reminds me of some of their earlier stuff. Didn’t see ASG’s full set, but what I saw was pretty good stuff.
Midnight was up next outside, and while they were a major outlier–a blackened thrash act on a stoner/doom fest–they put forth one of the most wildly entertaining sets I saw, and really got the crowd moshing. During their last song, their bassist lit his headstock on fire and jumped into the pool! I did not get any good pictures of this, but there’s video evidence on Facebook…
Sleep taking the stage at 10 pm almost seemed early, especially considering that they surely sold more t-shirts than anyone else at the festival. Their 60-minute set drew more heavily from Holy Mountain than Dopesmoker…but as soon as that opening riff from “Dragonaut” kicked in, they had the whole crowd eating from the palm of their hand.
One of the biggest bummers for me was seeing that French heavy psych outfit Mars Red Sky was scheduled to take the stage at the exact same time as Sleep. But things musta been running behind at Vinyl, cuz when I got there after Sleep’s set, this trio still had three songs left. And man, were these guys ever heavy! I heard they killed it at Doom Over T.O. too, so hopefully they’ll be back sometime…
Now, my memory card ran out before I could capture all of Alice’s antics–some 620 pictures later. But I can tell you that his headlining gig at the Hard Rock was a warm-up for a fall tour that includes a whole buncha dates in Western Canada, and from the looks of things, you won’t wanna miss it. His 90-minute show culminated in a set of covers honouring dead friends–“Pinball Wizard,” “Suffragette City,” and when they dropped the Lemmy Kilmister banner and launched into “Ace of Spades,” the entire room went fucking nuts. Biggest moshpit of the weekend, bar none. While he had the advantage of stage props and backdrops, there’s no denying the man and his band are very entertaining–even when “Elected,” the encore that saw larger-than-life Trump and Hillary duke it out on stage, was written way back when for the 1972 presidential campaign.
I’m still a bit bummed out that this is over. There will be other gigs, other shows, maybe a few festivals…but how the fuck do you top that!? I’m not even sure whether this was a profitable venture; there were good crowds, but not full to capacity–you had room to move around, and to move between venues. But man, this thing was well-run, well-organized, and with the exception of one outfit not pictured, every band I saw put on a killer set. I didn’t blow too much money on merch, but suffice to say, I didn’t walk away empty-handed, either: