Psycho Las Vegas 2019: Day 2
According to my watch, sleep came to me at 4:54am Saturday morning. The first bands to take the stage Saturday were scheduled for noon, I think. I got about six hours of sleep. My first order of business upon waking up was to find the largest cold brew coffee I could. The GF was dead Saturday morning. She originally planned to spend the day reading at one of the pools on the property but wound up staying in bed until about 5 pm. She can normally handle her booze… but not this time!
My original plan was to begin Saturday by peeping Tomb Mold and then DVNE. Then DVNE had to cancel their appearance (yet another visa-related issue, although not as well-publicized as the Rotting Christ one) and I wound up playing hangover doctor a little bit longer than expected. Alas, my first band of the day was Danava, who took the stage in the Rhythm & Riffs Lounge at 2 pm. I don’t know why I thought Danava was a dance band in the vein of !!! or The Rapture, but I did. Their first album looks like it would fit in with a label like DFA. Hot Chip! Holy Ghost! Danava! That’s how my mind perceived them. As it turned out, Danava was one of the most pleasant surprises of the entire weekend. They have a Thin Lizzy/Budgie/Deep Purple thing going on to which I was immediately drawn. I was bummed I had to leave halfway through their set, but there was another band going on at 2:30 I considered “appointment viewing.”
Old Man Gloom
The last time I saw OMG was at the Caleb Scofield benefit show here in Los Angeles. I was positively giddy watching them on that night. I described their sound that night as “crushing,” which is probably why I thought it’d be smart to weasel my way right up front for their set. With Stephen Brodsky on bass (no Nate Newton this time) they tore through 11 songs, including one new one! New Old Man Gloom songs (yes, I see what I did there with the new/old thing…) can only mean one thing: Santos’ Kickstarter must finally be paying off! The best (and most hilarious) part of their set was right before “Gift,” when the band took a little too long tuning their instruments. A pre-recorded sample that was probably only supposed to repeat once or twice went on for a solid…2 or 3 minutes? It got to the point that the guys on stage were alternately giggling and trying to signal to cease playing it.
A Hideous Nightmare Lies Upon The World
(Unknown New Song)
Sleeping With Snakes
To Carry The Flame
It’s hard to believe that after listening to Grails for so long, this was the first time I’d ever seen the band live. I believe Ian introduced me to the band at some point between Redlight and Burning Off Impurities and yet it took me over ten years to witness the live spectacle. And what a show it is. Emil Amos immediately draws your attention to him and demands it — almost for the entirety of their performance. I’m hardpressed to remember the last drummer who played so intricately but also with immense power. Maybe Zach Hill? That’s pretty much the only comp I can think of that isn’t, you know, a Chris Corsano type drummer. My respect for Grails increased dramatically as I got to see how talented each of the band members were as they switched off instruments. I watched Grails until I had to take off and peep another set that was going on at the main stage in the events center.
Daughters Of Bilitis
Belgian Wake-Up Drill
The Natural Man
I was told it was “important” to see Carcass, even though they were not on my original list of bands to see. I decided to spy the latter half of their set and was a) shocked at how much I liked it and b) shocked at how insane the crowd was for them. I think…and I could be wrong here, but of all the bands I’d seen to this point, I’m pretty sure Carcass wast the first one to inspire an old school mosh pit. Maybe my vantage points during other sets were different but I think they were the first of the weekend. There was also some incredible banter between songs, which I found refreshing considering how self-important a lot of modern metal bands come across when they speak. “Sorry we don’t sound more like Black Sabbath” is as hilarious as it was cutting for a band playing Psycho in 2019.
Dinner on Saturday was at Stripsteak right there in Mandalay Bay. The Michael Mina restaurant is known for its — wait for it — steaks! By now the GF was feeling a little better so we started with a couple of cocktails. Mine was a take on a Manhattan that I enjoyed. Hers I think was a Dark and Stormy. Our meal began with the above, an amuse-bouche that revolved around…french fries? Ok…this was fries three ways. From left to right was truffle fries with truffle aioli, herb-seasoned fries with housemade ketchup, and some kind of Japanese seasoned fries with a Japanese dipping sauce. The Japanese one was the tastiest, the others were fine. We then had hamachi tostada. Our main course was eight-ounce Mishima Reserve Rib Cap wagyu, which we split because someone was still a little too hungover to go all-out at dinner. The meat was cooked perfectly and was one of the better cuts of wagyu I’ve had outside of Cut or one of those high-end sushi places that serves A5 wagyu in tiny shabu portions. We skipped dessert. I had several more bands to see…
Originally the 8:40 pm set at the pool was supposed to be Oranssi Pazuzu, but they had to cancel due to — you guessed it — visa issues! Luckily, the guys from Sumac were there to fill in. I saw them back in 2017 at Psycho when they played at Hard Rock’s pool. I think I liked this set more, although the pool in 2017 was way cooler than the pool at Mandalay Bay. I was impressed by Aaron Turner’s ability to play two sets in one day — within a few hours of each other — when he had a show (with Old Man Gloom) in another state the next day. He must be the hardest workin’ man in show business!
Without a doubt, the largest draw of the weekend was the “Original” Misfits. This time slot was the one that Megadeth was supposed to play before Dave Mustaine was diagnosed with throat cancer. All-day long leading up to this show, I saw people roaming around Mandalay Bay in Misfits gear. I saw little kids sporting devilocks. The Misfits offered fun for the whole family during a festival that was very much not family-friendly most of the time. This was also the only time all weekend that actually getting into a venue became difficult. When I left the beach stage following Sumac’s set, I re-entered the resort to find a line snaked all the way down the stairs almost to the pool just to get into the arena. I decided to run upstairs and grab a beer, so I made it into the arena shortly after the show began. Other than talking in between EVERY SINGLE SONG about the next song they were going to play, the band actually sounded…really good. Danzig’s voice sounded fine, the band sounded good, the vibe in the arena was overwhelmingly fun. Arriving late meant the floor was off-limits to be, but even sitting off to the side I was able to enjoy their set.
They played like thirty songs, so rather than type them all out I’ll say the highlights were “Where Eagles Dare,” “Teenagers From Mars,” “All Hell Breaks Loose,” and “Die, Die My Darling.” The best banter came before “Who Killed Marilyn” when Danzig went off on a tangent about the Kennedys and coverups that made him sound like your crazy uncle.
The Black Angels
The last band I saw on Saturday was The Black Angels, who closed the pool stage shortly after midnight. They played all the songs I wanted to hear, including “Young Men Dead,” so I couldn’t have been happier with their set. It didn’t hurt that by this point I was a little drunk and a little high. So in that sense, it was just like seeing Inter Arma from the Hard Rock pool in 2017. Two very different styles of music, two very similar levels of intoxication. It was all very chill and very fun. I guess in that sense the pool at Mandalay Bay was the proper setting? Bands played a stage above a wave pool, so the water was less than knee-deep. But there was sand at the edges of the water, so if you weren’t afraid of anything else in the sand, you could sit and have a very peaceful time watching the bands.
After The Black Angels finished, I was done for the night. I caught 7 bands total on this day, plus parts of other sets, so once again I saw more bands than I set out to…which goes to show the quality of the bands this year. I didn’t bother with The Obsessed at House Of Blues, but I did stay up and gamble long enough to hear Night Horse and Led Zeppelin II play the Rhythm & Riffs Lounge. We lost a bunch of money Saturday night, but we got to bed at the somewhat reasonable hour of 2 am. We were both less drunk, which meant Sunday was going to go much more smoothly…right?
To be continued.
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