Psycho Las Vegas. The Woodstock for doom metalheads, “Doomstock” if you will. The line-up was completely stacked: Alice Cooper, Candlemass, Electric Wizard, Sleep, Pentagram, all at the Hard Rock Hotel in the city of sin. This fest was every doomster’s dream come true. The genre has been building up in popularity over the past ten years or so, and this fest is a culmination of that. This is the fourth annual Psycho Festival and it has made a large step forward.
The fest began with a pre-show for people with three day passes on Thursday, August 25 at the Paradise Pool at the hotel. The outside pool venue was literally and figuratively in Paradise. There was a massive pool in the middle for people to relax in and a decently large stage, with a pit area in-between. Each band got an hour’s time slot. The day was sunny and arid, perfect for a swim. Let’s dive into it.
The fest kicked off at high noon with Greenbeard from Texas. They opened to a pretty small crowd, with metalheads just beginning to arrive. The band has a Wolfmother and The Sword vibe. To be honest I didn’t catch much of them because I was situating myself at the venue, but they were cool.
Next up was desert rock band Fatso Jetson of Palm Desert, CA. Similarly, I didn’t catch much of them, but they rocked it. They basically played a fast-paced bluesy jam session. Frontman Mario Lalli was making a connection with the audience. By this time, the crowd was growing, and plenty of people were in the pool. Being able to sit back and unwind in a pool while listening to some cool jams was a really privileged experience.
As the sun started to go down a bit and set the mood, Golden Void from Oakland took over following Fatso. The atmosphere continued to be carefree with the band’s groovy mellow tones. I can’t emphasize enough the breezy poolside, though the drinks were a bit pricey, naturally.
Electric Citizen, who have become a favorite of mine, took charge next. Their new album Higher Time was pretty sweet and I looked forward to see what they’d play. Their setlist was fairly even from both of their records. I’m particularly glad they performed “Social Phobia,” my favorite of the new LP, and the soft and elegant “Hawk Nightingale” was a total treat. Singer Laura Dolan can be hit and miss live. She had a bit of a rough start, but after a couple songs, she got into the groove of things. The band had a keyboard player this time around, something they’ve lacked during most of their tours. Though I could barely hear him, except on “Hawk Nightingale”. Electric Citizen took advantage of their hour-long time slot and delivered a memorable set.
After a break, Texan hard rock power trio Mothership kicked out the jams. I reviewed their second record a while back, and it was a fun one. Brothers Kyle and Kells Juett traded vocal duties and the rough rockers were simply having a ball on stage. The band’s old-school heavy metal charm was intact, with Kells in particular going crazy on stage. The psychedelic number “Priestess of the Moon” was my favorite and showed off the rifftastic tunes the group has to offer.
The totally off-the-wall Mac Sabbath played penultimate. I saw them earlier this year, and man did they make an impact. They are a fast food-themed Black Sabbath tribute band. Yeah, it’s that weird (especially after I saw the actual Black Sabbath less than a week before this show). It’s uniquely pleasing to hear Sabbath classics repackaged as comedy songs. There are a few rearrangements in the compositions and the band had a few slip-ups while performing (two of the members do adorn huge costumes), but overall, they were pretty faithful to the original sound. It’s also cool how they play certain numbers that Black Sabbath doesn’t do such as “Electric Funeral” (“Organic Funeral”) and “Lord of This World” (“Lord of the Swirl”). The totally outlandish antics on stage by frontman Ronald Osbourne in combination with the classic metal songs make for a really delicious experience. Check out my interview with manager Mike Odd here.
Headlining the pre-show was grunge giant Mudhoney. They really didn’t do anything for me. Don’t get me wrong, the quartet played excellently, grunge just isn’t my thing. Every song felt the same, though I did enjoy “Touch Me I’m Sick” and “1995”. Even being in the front row didn’t help much. I was more interested in the blown up cheeseburgers still bouncing in the crowd from Mac Sabbath.
The festival was warmed up with a varied line-up, providing something for everyone. Electric Citizen and Mac Sabbath were the highlights for me. They were the two bands that I’d seen before among this line-up, but their sound simply appeals to me more so than the others, though it’s a bit cheating with Mac Sabbath. I definitely want to check out more Fatso Jetson, they had some tasty riffs and I need to check out Mothership’s first album. My appetite for metal was whetted, but not satisfied. There were still plenty of huge acts to see. Check out my review for the first official day here.