Sunday, August 28th. The final day of Psycho was a bittersweet one. All great things must come to a finish and this was the inevitable end of the madness. Most of the bands I witnessed on Sunday I’ve seen before, but giving every single band at Psycho a listen beforehand, I went with the ones I knew I’d appreciate. If you haven’t seen it, check out my review for day two here.
“Yeah I know a lot of you doom bloggers are going to be like ‘they were shit!‘” shouted a noticeably wasted Greg Meleney. Portland-based retro rockers Danava started out the day for me and boy was this an interesting set. Mr. Meleney in addition had a messed up throat and was not able to sing that well, half the time using his falsetto, the other half fooling around. Kinda had a Jim Morrison vibe. He had some funny shit to say as well and some ranting, which got a bit too long. The band still played their usual jamy, groovy, Budgie-inspired vibrant tunes excellently. If this was your first time seeing Danava, I could understand if you were disappointed, but it was humorous. Not the most exciting set, but it made for an intriguing one. And no, Greg, you guys weren’t shit, coming from a doom blogger.
Stoner metal vets Fu Manchu invaded The Joint next. I sat in the third floor seating for this one and it was relaxing kicking back and hearing their far-out numbers. They definitely got some tasty riffs up their sleeves with songs like “Hell on Wheels,” and “King of the Road”. The vocals are the epitome of the term “dude”. Fu Manchu puts the “fu” in fun.
Next on my weekend bucketlist was Swedish stoner metal band Spelljammer at Vinyl. Giving them a spin before the weekend, they really impressed me. Signed to RidingEasy, their sound has a lot of overlap with labelmates Monolord, also from Sweden. This was also their first American show, which was a nice touch. The crushing destructive power of their opening track “Meadow” cannot be understated. They played an obliterating set to a crowd of metalheads thirsty for the new crop of bands in the genre. This is one to look out for.
Next at The Joint was one of my favorite bands, Candlemass. I had the privilege of seeing them at Maryland Deathfest two years ago, and this is their first U.S. show since. Bandleader and bassist Leif Edling was absent due to medical issues, so live keyboard player Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, Kamchatka) was on the 4-string. Current vocalist Mats Leven has the right pipes for the job, but also has a certain edge compared to singers of yore. Their setlist was pretty stacked. They performed “The Dying Illusion” from the often forgot about Chapter VI. “Demons Gate,” which was my favorite track of theirs years ago was a total treat, I went all out headbanging to that one. I can’t get enough of the band’s dark melodic songwriting. Candlemass proved that they still have that fire that was sparked 30 years ago with Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.
Outside at the Paradise Pool, Midnight played at the slightly unsatisfactory time of 8:50 pm. I saw them before at Maryland Deathfest, but this time I was more familiar with their Venom worship. Venom is one of my favorite bands, so I don’t mind the blatant borrowing of their style. The pit was naturally crazy with this one, getting very close to the pool itself. I love their simplistic over-the-top rapid-fire sound, particularly on “Lust, Filth, and Sleaze”. The guttural vocals and thrashy riffs never get old. At the end of their set, the bassist put a rag on his instrument and burned it, jumping into the audience. Then the guitarist jumped into the pool. I was hoping at least one of the performers of the festival would do that. That was quite a finish to an enjoyable set.
Stoner metal codifiers Sleep took over The Joint next, with a huge wall of amps. Make America riff again. I had only seen the band two months ago, but I couldn’t pass up another round of the Weedians. When the power trio came onto the stage, everyone lit up their joints ritualistically. The group showed their might with fan favorites as well as their latest single, “The Clarity”. Killer setlist, but then again, they don’t have much to choose from. Their sound was basically a huge burning monolith of marijuana in a perpetual state of motion in outer space. Those riffs are forever golden. The now bearded Al Cisneros implemented his nasally voice with ease. Their set alone may have convinced Nevadans to vote for marijuana on the ballot this November.
After an hour of prep, rock legend Alice Cooper ended the festival properly. Everyone was beat from the plethora of bands earlier in the day as well as the whole weekend, but many stayed for the theatrics of Mr. Cooper. His show was stunning. It was an arena concert in a much smaller venue. I was thinking that to get pit area tickets at a regular Alice Cooper show, I’d probably have to spend as much as I did for the entire four day festival. There was something very satisfying about that. The show itself was as entertaining and professional as you’d expect. The triple guitar attack of his band was on point, simply visceral. I loved how most of Alice’s band sang a lot of harmonies with him, it really added a punch to the hooks.
The theatrics were also very enjoyable. The macabre onstage sets and props added to the experience. Bringing a huge Frankenstein character on stage for “Feed My Frankenstein” was an unexpected surprise. They did a few covers of songs from dead musicians: Keith Moon of The Who, David Bowie, and Lemmy. Of course the metal crowd went crazy when they played “Ace of Spades,” with bassist Chuck Garric taking over lead vocal duties. I was exhausted and my stomach hurt during the set, but I had a smile on my face the whole time.
What a blast this whole weekend was. I got to see some of my all time favorite bands and discover many new ones. It’s funny seeing the contrast in the bands. The unpredictability of Danava and the structured chaos of Alice Cooper were enjoyable in their own ways. I counted, exactly half of the bands I’ve seen before at least once. The fact that I’ve already seen a band can make me less inclined to see them again, but each concert is a unique experience, and I experienced my favorite sets from groups like Pentagram and Satan’s Satyrs. I also loved the conversations I had with random festival goers about music. I can’t get enough of metal culture. This whole festival proved to me that what happens in Vegas… stays with you forever.