How I (Mis)Spent My Summer Vacation: PSYCHO LAS VEGAS
By Solomon G
Okay, I didn’t really have a Summer vacation - but I did take four days off from work to hit Psycho Las Vegas Festival at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. If I were a smartass, perhaps I’d write a two word review, that would read simply:
I won’t do that, but it would have been 100% accurate.
I’m gonna go ahead and preface this memoir by stating how important I felt it was to stop by the place I pick up my green medication and make sure I had plenty to last, because - wow did that come in handy, and I know for a fact that I was not even by any close margin the only cat there who did so. Make no mistake - folks came to this thing prepared to party, and in that measure, we were all in good company. Hell yes.
Also, one minor regret is that I wasn’t able to get over for Thursday’s Paradise Pool extravaganza: Pellet’s DJ set(!), Fatso Jetson - fucking Mudhoney!! But even though I also missed YOB for probably the third time in my life - and Acid Witch, another band you don’t get a whole lot of chances to see - there’s no way I could feel disappointed by the remainder of the lineup at this fest. I mean, everything remained consistently excellent for the duration.
So anyway, it wasn’t exactly Fear And Loathing, but I was good and primed by the time I hit a detour somewhere outside of Barstow. It might have been an optical illusion, but it appeared as if the desert was basically flat, while only the road seemed the rise and fall. The height and angle of each whoop-de-doo made it fun to gun your engine on the climb, then ease off just after going over the apex so that you and the car would float in space for a moment, over and over again for probably five or ten miles. I was in a line of cars with plenty of space between gunning over these hills at about 70. It was wild.
Dropped all my stuff at Arizona Charlie’s on Boulder HWY and booked over to the spot around 9:00, too late to have caught one of the bands I most wanted to see, midwestern heshers, Satan’s Satyrs - but just in time to catch my friends in Beelzefuzz, doing their Righteous Bloom sounds. From the start, as far as I could tell, everyone at this fest, bands and audience alike, were ready to tear it up.
Here’s one thing about a festival this big: two different people or more could theoretically each see an entirely different lineup of acts without any common crossover. So just as a point of reference, here is the list of acts whose shows I attended, in order:
Beelzefuzz, Shroud Eater, Drive Like Jehu [end of set], standup comedian Brian Posehn, living legend and hell of an entertainer Arthur Brown, Demon Lung [end of set], Mondo Drag, Boris, High On Fire, Beelzebong [start of set], Bongripper [end of set], Lumerians, Jucifer, Acid King, Electric Wizard, Truth & Janey(!), Danava, Fu Manchu, Candlemass, Baroness [last 1/2], Sleep, Alice Cooper [first 1/2], Valkyrie, and most salient festival closers, the ever-heavy Disenchanter.
To tell the truth, I probably should have plotted a course beforehand, because I actually missed parts of a few acts just standing before the big scrim with the schedule roster printed on it trying to figure out which venue to hit next. It was almost overwhelming, but in the very best possible sense. By way of comparison, here is a list of bands [aside from the acts I mentioned earlier that I missed], which I saw in an alternate reality somewhere out in the multiverse:
Elder, Death, Family, Blue Öyster Cult, Death Alley, Behold! The Monolith, Tombstones, Pentagram(!), Mantar, Spelljammer, Witch Mountain, Saviours, Fireball Ministry, Mars Red Sky - but the list goes on…seriously.
Some personal highlights for me were seeing so many of my friends from the Maryland/DC/PA and NY scenes, as well as friends out all the way from Sweden. Holla to some certain folks who shared the rare magic with me: it was MUCH appreciated! And Saturday was that ‘magic’ night, so to speak, as I was in a state of transcendence from about High On Fire through Electric Wizard, with the peak of the experience somewhere around Jucifer.
Those were not by any means the only highlights I witnessed over the run of this fest, however. To whit:
Arthur Brown was the epitome of style and entertainment - and still rocks as hard as he wants to • Shroud Eater blew my fucking hair back unexpectedly • Mondo Drag is one band I’ve wanted to catch for a long time and they were seriously fucking awesome • There is a reason why people revere the band, Boris - believe me • Truth & Janey seemed like an impossible dream gig, and here’s hoping there are many more shows from these guys • Danava always knocks you on your ass, there’s no two ways about it • Never heard of Lumerians before Saturday, but now feel as though I’m not gonna stop talking about them any time soon • Saw fucking Fu Manchu for the first time since the old bar and parking lot gig days - and that was the best I’ve ever heard them jam [despite some technical difficulties early in the set] • Oh, and holy shit: I saw Candlemass live!!! • Sleep is always so great, and this time a really varied, unique, and lively set • And you would think the bands and audience would have been totally spent at the very end, and maybe we were - but having seen Disenchanter numerous times now, the festival closer was the most intense performance I’ve seen and heard from them. What a way to wind up this show!!
Special aside: sometimes after a bunch of bands, I get kind of dizzy and maybe stumble a bit - not only because I party as much as I want at metal shows, but because I’ve generally been banging my head most enthusiastically for hours on end. However, at this show, so many people were kind of bumping into each other down the hallways and laughing about it. So I was not the only one. No negative vibes. Filing out felt goofy and fun - like everyone was completely satisfied. And stoned. Stoned and satisfied.
Final shout-out: it was so cool to see a lot of the same people right up front for so many shows. Like, seriously, about ten or twenty of you guys know who I’m talking about: y’all are the coolest.
Brothers and sisters, in case I don’t see you at the next one, may we all party some day at the Great Fest in the sky - hails! \m/
PHOTO KEY (From Top to Bottom):
WO FAT (the restaurant, not the band)
SOLOMON G & CO. at SKY VALLEY
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