Psycho Las Vegas Announces Initial Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas banner

In the fine tradition of, well, last year’s Psycho fest, 2016’s Psycho Las Vegas has announced an overwhelmingly impressive initial group of acts for its lineup, including some of the finest North America has to offer and choice imports. Notable in that category are Candlemass, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Colour Haze, Mars Red Sky, Belzebong, Øresund Space Collective and The Cosmic Dead, and they’re joined by returning figureheads Sleep and Pentagram, who headlined the 2015 Psycho California fest, along with YOB, Down, Mudhoney, Acid King, Fu Manchu and a whole host of others listed below.

The truly insane part about Psycho Las Vegas is that, like last year with Psycho California, the lineup is staggered, so this isn’t it. On Valentines Day, the festival will announce its full lineup of acts, which I’m just going to go out on a limb and assume includes everyone else on earth, and then after that, in March, they’ll follow up again with the headliners. So what we learn today is that 2015’s headliners will have someone playing over them. I don’t know who, or how that could be possible, but you can bet your ass I’m anxious to find out.

All the details so far unveiled about Psycho Las Vegas, as well as the link to purchase tickets, appear below:

psycho las vegas poster


Neon Knights arrive and ignite the the city of light in a sleepless celebration of heavy culture. High rollin’ low lifes will low roll the high life at the world famous Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in “Sin City”, Las Vegas. For three straight days, from August 26th through the 28th, born losers win as Psycho Las Vegas holds a rock steady hand of bands, performance artists, tattoo artists, art exhibits, a black light chamber, custom van and chopper show, pinball arcade, and much more.

Psycho Las Vegas sins and grins two blocks south of the strip at the expansive Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The high-octane Rock ‘n’ Roll-themed casino resort hosts three stages; The Joint, which is a main stage, Vinyl, the rock club and out under the desert night sky is the second main stage, The Pool Stage. Experience live music, 24 hours a day.

In between bands and bets, ride outside to the venue’s open lot and witness the most bitchin’ rides this side of Death Valley at Psycho’s first ever custom van and chopper show!

Psycho Las Vegas features some of the most revered screen printed poster artwork with an exclusive exhibition from commissioned Psycho Las Vegas artist David D’Andrea. D’andrea, who returns to Psycho for a second year, created all the official festival artwork. Attendees will be able to eternally commemorate the event on their own walls with signed, limited edition works from D’Andrea.

Psycho Las Vegas acts and events were co-curated with music scene stalwart Sean “Pellet” Pelletier. (“Last Days Here” documentary) “Thief Present’s ‘Psycho’ festivals are visionary and have consecutively been the number one music event I’ve want to attend since they’ve started”, said Pellet. “I’ve been dreaming about putting on a cool culture and music festival for quite some time and I jumped at the chance to help us all go psycho in Las Vegas! The event is a celebration of subculture and a spiritual gateway for all of us into sonically connected sub-genres of heavy rock that hopefully, some of which, may be new to our senses. I’m booking bands that I’ve always personally wanted to see and have requested setlists that we’ve all wanted to hear.”

Among the first string of live acts announced will be hard rock legends, BLUE OYSTER CULT with a set heavy on their early songs that have inspired so many great bands over the years. Mark Arm and Steve Turner, also both of Green RIver-fame, will remind us why MUDHONEY are heralded as essential grandfathers of grunge. English psych rock pioneer, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN returns to America with a performance sure to highlight where groundbreaking artists such as Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Ghost may have gotten some of their ideas. We’ve reunited proto-metal masters TRUTH AND JANEY who will appear for an exclusive live set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their underground classic debut, “No Rest For The Wicked”! “A Band Called Death” documentary film stars DEATH, pulsate the pool stage and will show us why they are finally considered one of the first Detroit punk bands. Germany’s top psychedelic stoners COLOUR HAZE have chosen the festival for a rare US manifestation that’s sure rise us all high above the neon. Swedish doom metal ministers CANDLEMASS come crushing in yet another one of Psycho Las Vegas’s special performances. Stay tuned for the announcement of even more acts, over 60 in total, over the next few months.

Thief presents
Friday, August 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM – Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 12:00 AM (PDT)
Las Vegas, NV

DEATH (Detroit)

Join the bands and crew at the Hard Rock Hotel & use the code: Psych16 at checkout to recieve 30% off your rooms.

1/20 – “Warm up” Tickets Onsale 8am pst
2/14 – Full Lineup (60+ acts)
3/15 – Headliners Revealed
5/4 – Van/Chopper & Alt Exhibitions

Sleep, Live at Psycho California

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At a Glance: Down, Down IV Part One: The Purple EP

Posted in Reviews on September 19th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Down IV Part One: The Purple EP is a pretty complex title for a band who, when they released their first album in 1995, couldn’t be bothered to say the entire phrase “New Orleans.” The project seems to be that over the next year, Down — the supergroup of (do I even need to list them?) Pepper Keenan (C.O.C.), Kirk Windstein (Crowbar), Jimmy Bower (EyeHateGod), Pat Bruders (Crowbar) and Phil Anselmo (Pantera) — will issue four EPs that will make up the whole of Down IV, which follows 2007’s Down III: Over the Under, an album that was watered down sound-wise and had stripped much of the edge off of the band’s songwriting. Anyone remember “Pillamyd?” I’m sorry I brought it up.

My appreciation for Down‘s recorded output has been on a decline since 2002’s Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow, though I liked that album and still consider 1995’s Nola a masterpiece, if one I can’t really listen to anymore. I don’t begrudge the band their commercial success. All of them — even Bruders, who came aboard at some point after the last album as a replacement for Pantera‘s Rex Brown, now in Kill Devil Hill –have put in more than their share of roadtime. Hell, for Wiseblood alone, Pepper Keenan should be a millionaire. Down III, however, sucked. Plain and simple. Everything that worked about Down‘s prior output fell flat, and even the songs that were memorable, such as the nonsensical Dimebag Darrell paean “Three Suns and One Star,” were more memorable for being annoying than being good.

So when it comes to Down IV Part One: The Purple EP, I’d rather just write the band off and go my own way, them onward to wider audiences, me onward to… a wider ass, I guess. Whatever. The point is I’m annoyed at feeling obligated to even put on Down‘s six-track collection — which is full-length enough at 33 minutes — and annoyed at the thought of reviewing it. It’s not like my opinion on this record matters. No one’s going to read this and have their mind changed about Down. If you like the band and liked the last album, you’ll probably like the EP. If you didn’t, you won’t. Down‘s legacy, pedigree and commercial breadth doesn’t allow for much ambivalence. You’re either going to feel one way or another.

A chugging riff fades up slowly to begin opener “Levitation,” and already Down IV has more meat to its tonality than its predecessor, Keenan and Windstein working well together as they always do. Bower, a more than capable drummer, is in the pocket with Bruders, and all more or less goes according to plan as Anselmo counts in with a “one, two, three, go!” apparently unaware the song has already been on for two minutes. From there, he’s all over the verse and chorus, his unfortunately influential clean vocal mewling layered in with one or two ambient background screams and the toughguy spoken word he’s used since Pantera‘s heyday. And well, it just goes from there.

I’ll grant that for a band of this scale — releasing music on Warner Bros., touring the world in large venues, etc. — to put forth anything as stoned-sounding as “Witchtripper” (on which Bruder‘s bass offers ultra-low rumble that’s legitimately killer) or anything even close enough to be vaguely compared to Pentagram as “The Curse is a Lie” can be, is admirable, but that’s not really enough to save the songs themselves, which sound written to type and, as “Open Coffins” shows, lack the punch that the beginning of “Levitation” seemed to promise. And though he’s actually made himself into a decently-stylized singer of reasonable range, Anselmo is also a cartoon character who sounds like he doesn’t know how to be anything else than this persona he’s created for himself over the last 20 years. Every time he opens his mouth, I just hear him telling VH-1 viewers to, “never underestimate the kid.”

“This Work is Timeless” is an overestimation from the start, if a decent riff, and closer “Misfortune Teller” (get it?!) locks in a solid groove and features a rougher vocal — not quite the screams of old, which were among metal’s most vicious — atop effective lumber in the guitar that Bower meets with heavy-thudding fills. They fade out on a chugging riff at about seven minutes in, and for the last 15 seconds of the track’s total 9:05 bring up a melody that’s perhaps a preview of things to come on the next installment of Down IV. Sounds like Down, anyway.

Objectively, Down IV Part One: The Purple EP is an improvement over Down III. On a basic songwriting level, the band seems to search out a niche between accessible doom-tinged Southern stoner riffs and commercial metal, and while there are at least 75 records I’ve heard this year that I’d put on before it, the fans who’ve stuck with them to this point will find it easy to continue to follow them onward to Part Two, whatever stylistic shifts or changes in mood it may hold. For me, even the best stretches are undercut by the ultra-gendered posturing, and already being mostly out of the fold (apparently not enough so to ignore the record altogether), I hear few reasons to return to it, comforting though the familiarity might otherwise prove. Somehow, I imagine the band will survive.

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Down’s Diary of a Mad Band Available for Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I have my issues with Southern metal supergroup Down, but there’s no denying they kill it live. Do I remember the first time I saw them? No I do not. It’s that kind of epic.

Documenting their first European tour (which they booked to escape from the wrath Hurricane Katrina had recently wrought on their New Orleans home) and beyond, Diary of a Mad Band is slated for release next month, but you can preorder it now at the band’s webstore. The PR wire has the goods on the tracklist and whatnot:

New Orleans, LA’s Down is pleased to announce three killer pre-order bundles, available for purchase now in preparation for their upcoming three-disc (2CD plus DVD) release, Diary of a Mad Band, hitting stores on Oct. 5, 2010. All pre-orders include an instant MP3 download of “Stone the Crow” live in Dublin.

Diary of a Mad Band features a 2CD full concert, live in London! The DVD highlights documented footage marking the 2006 return of Down from the practice room through their first European tour, and a bonus behind-the-scenes featurette, Tyrades and Shananigans. The DVD closes in at a blistering 130 minutes! See below for a complete tracklisting of the set:

DVD: Diary of a Mad Band
w/ Bonus featurette Tyrades and Shananigans
1. Lysergic Funeral Procession
2. Lifer
3. Losing All
4. Rehab
5. New Orleans is a Dying Whore
6. Ghosts along the Mississippi
7. Learn from this Mistake
8. Underneath Everything
9. Temptation’s Wings
10. There’s Something on My Side
11. Hail the Leaf
12. Lies
13. The Seed
14. Eyes of the South
15. Jail
16. Stone the Crow
17. Bury Me in Smoke

2CD: Live in Europe
1. Losing All
2. Lifer
3. Lysergic Funeral Procession
4. Rehab
5. Temptation’s Wings
6. Ghosts along the Mississippi
7. Learn from this Mistake
8. Hail the Leaf
9. New Orleans is A Dying Whore
10. Lies, I Don’t Know What They Say But…
11. Underneath Everything
12. The Seed
13. Eyes of the South
14. Jail
15. Stone the Crow
16. Bury Me in Smoke

If that isn’t enough for a rabid fan, a 180 Gram triple vinyl version with a bonus DVD will be available on Oct. 26.

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Telephonular Adventures with Phil Anselmo

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 30th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Like many afternoons at 3pm, today, I was downstairs making myself a sandwich, carefully pressing down the panini grill to be sure none of the Swiss cheese comes out between the slices of bread. I had an orange juice ready and some cashews (roasted, unsalted; death to false flavors) set to accompany. Then the phone rang and the caller ID says, “HSE CRE RECORDS.”

Ah hell.

So much for my 3:30 interview with Down singer Philip Anselmo, who in the days of fronting Pantera was able to give voice to my teenage angst in a way few others could match. I asked Kate, the pleasant-sounding young woman on the other end of the phone who would connect me with Phil, if she could call back in two minutes so I could run upstairs, plug in my recorder and switch. She said no problem.

Then, two minutes into the interview, the call is dropped.

But fear not, intrepid attendees, the interview with Philip Anselmo did happen. We talked about his label, Housecore Records, the bands he’s working with, and about plans for the next Down album, which is apparently set to be recorded at the end of this year. The actual interview will be posted probably sometime in the next two weeks, but because I was so damn relieved to actually get it done, I thought I’d celebrate with this video of “Underneath Everything” from 1995.

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Well, Good for Weedeater

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 2nd, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, like this.While the thought of another Down tour saddens me because it means we’re that much less likely to see a new Crowbar or (gawd forbid) C.O.C. album anytime soon, I’m glad long-running North Carolina dirtball sludgers Weedeater are going to get the exposure of a major corporate tour. Should be pretty funny to see how the dudes in the denim BLS vests react when Dixie Dave starts puking all over the stage. Not to mention what’ll happen if some gets on Danava‘s $400 shoes. Yeah, they should fit in just fine. Here’s the PR wire news and the dates:

That is right, sound the alarms: North Carolina‘s sludge pillagers Weedeater have been confirmed as support for a full-on North American Down tour! The lineup changes throughout the routing; The Canadian dates feature secondary support from Voivod, while the bulk of the American dates feature The Melvins. Other opening support for the tour will be Danava for the first half and Evil Army for the latter half of the dates.

Weedeater will play several shows in North Carolina and Tennessee on the way to the opening and after the closing of the tour, and will headline sporadically in chunks throughout the main tour. And of course they will do what they do best: sonically reduce every venue they enter to a resin-coated heap of rubble.

Weedeater live:

Read more »

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Update: “Lifer” Still Kicks Ass

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 17th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Say what you will about the new era of New Orleans supergroup Down — I know I will; that last album blew goat ass — but when these five dudes get on a stage and start blasting out their old tunes, it’s worth taking notice. To wit: the following live video from the Download Festival that Blabbermouth put up with a story about how they’re getting ready to record a fourth LP. Can’t say I’m looking forward to that since it means we won’t get new Crowbar anytime soon, but even with Phil Anselmo‘s yowling clean vocals and weak-ass screams, “Lifer” rules all.

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Look Who’s Reissuing Crowbar Now!

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 21st, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Kirk Windstein loves you very much. Never forget it.Blabbermouth posted an update from Down/Crowbar?guitarist/vocalist Kirk Windstein, in which he had the following to say:

“Got a good bit of good news to announce. Crowbar?will be rereleasing the majority of the back catalog through Housecore Records?[Philip Anselmo‘s record label]. These releases will be the only official rereleases that myself and the band have agreed to.

“There are countless unauthorized rereleases out there [Metal Mind?walks by and waves]. These were never OK’ed by me and are basically screwing the band. Most of these will be released on vinyl for the first time. We will also be putting out a limited-edition box set as well as a new live record and a CD of new material. Please check for frequent updates. Also,?Crowbar?and Goatwhore?will be playing a show Friday, May 29 at Grant Street in Lafayette, Louisiana.”

Quick question: is a “CD of new material” the same thing as a new album? I sure as hell hope so, because if there’s one thing that wasn’t at all worth trading time that could have been spent making a new?Crowbar?record?for, it was Down, Over the Under. Hate to be the one to say it, but it’s true. I still get a headache every time I think about how dumb “Pillamyd” was.

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