Psycho Las Vegas 2022 – Day 1 Notes

Hippie Death Cult (Photo by JJ Koczan)


You never have to wait long when you’re on the strip to see the next plane fly overhead. That’s part of the image of the whole thing. Movers and shakers, people going places. I don’t see myself that way. I’m more the wiggly type.

The Starbucks — there might be two — wasn’t crowded and tastes a bit like burning but I don’t care. I found some THC tablet things up at the dispensary the other night and because I’m 40 years old and someone who thinks and operates in precisely this manner, I budgeted them out for the next few days and will accordingly be mildly stoned from here on out. My original plan had been to come here, get ahold of a bunch of mushrooms and blow my brains out for the weekend, writing all the while in what I’m sure would be a fit on too-damn-long sentences that I’d think were brilliant until I read them later and realized they were all about dragons and tearing down the capitalist uberstructure that allows shit like this to exist in the first place, let alone me to get away with being here to see it. The singer from Uniform yesterday, between one pissed off song and the next, started talking between songs and then shut it down. “Never mind. You don’t want to hear what I have to say.” I kind of did.

Curious at least where the commentary might start. Making thongs and heels the apparently-mandatory pool attire for waitstaff? The $15 water bottle? This is a party town. Party don’t come cheap, and in terms of vibe I’ve never experienced anything else like where I am now. Divorcing the fest from the inherently predatory aspects of any casino experience for a moment — which I don’t think you’re supposed to do, but I have neither the cash nor inclination to gamble, so there it is; and there goes another airplane — because it’s all a fucking trap and we’re dancing around the edge of it, addled with drink and chemical reactions in reckless checked out bliss. Heard Cancer Christ ripped up a Bible in the Redtail last night after I went to bed. Somebody had to sweep that up.

I think I’d like another tattoo. Any ideas?

Sanguisugabogg (Photo by JJ Koczan)

But again, to remove the fest from its surroundings, to try and separate ‘sub-‘ from culture, is nearly impossible. And the true innovation Psycho had made isn’t so much in getting GZA to come play chess — though that’s awesome too — but in taking the aesthetics of underground culture, mostly based around metal even when it’s not metal specifically, and using them as a means to infiltrate a broader cross-section of institutions. I heard “Lady in Red” on my way to Starbucks to get coffee. In about half an hour, Sanguisugabogg are going to take stage in what I’m pretty sure is a seated ballroom. Guess I’ll find out. That achievement, as well as the procuring of the significant financial backing to make it happen, isn’t to be understated. An accomplishment of scale and scope the results for which will manifest over the next three days.

Thankfully, that will mostly happen inside.


The death growls of Sanguisugabogg are blending with the mall tunes, distortion underlying safe ’80s-ish synthpop, and I almost hate to say it, but it’s kind of working for me, sound-wise. I’m pretty sure this is what my nightmares sound like.

Watched enough of them — the ones with all the esses and gees, please don’t make me type it again — to know that they’re a good time musically. And that there are no seats up there. One way or the other, 11AM death mosh is perfect for Psycho Las Vegas. It should be a tradition if it already isn’t. More coffee called and I made my way out, but no regrets for having seen the Rose Ballroom, which is kind of just up in the corner of the third floor. I’ve come to understand this might just be what casino hotel resorts are, but I promise you I have no idea in that regard. Also watched enough of them to know that every dude in that band could and just might on a given day beat my ass. I’m sure they’re sweethearts though. They had Mike Gitter out at 11AM, which is all the endorsement you’ll ever need as far as I’m concerned.

Dreadnought (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve lost just about all sense of time now. If not for my phone giving me minute-by-minute updates on the matter I’m pretty sure I’d be a goner. There’s a horn being played somewhere. It’s cutting through the echoing distorted noise from Sanguisugabogg and the bassy muzak and goodness gracious maybe I’m a goner anyway. Gotta hydrate.

Sitting outside the pizza place, where I’ve been a good portion of the morning by now. It’s almost a chair and it’s definitely free, so it gets the prize. Festival types are up and about by now, either getting food, outside smoking, whatever it is. I feel like I’m from another planet. Maybe everyone does? I look at people going about their business though, just living, and that’s not how I operate. Even in this weirdo microculture, in my most honest moments I never quite feel like I belong. Anywhere. There goes another plane.

In other words, it’s not the world with the problem, it’s me.

I wish that was new information.

Stinking Lizaveta (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Later again

Dreadnought and Stinking Lizaveta present dueling and likewise accurate visions of what constitutes salvation. Hippie Death Cult back this with unexpectedly metallic progressions; a bit of march from that expansive drum kit. This allows me to rediscover the antidote to that feeling, that so-in-my-own-head isolation, which of course is the fucking music. Granted, being unworthy is kind of my running theme of Psycho so far — underscored by various security personnel who’ve all been polite enough in telling me I can or can’t bring this or that to stages, or go here or there or take pictures or whathaveyou; my ‘I’ve got an email that says I can be here’ is getting a workout — but watching Dreadnought is pretty goddamned special. Even compared to seeing them here in 2018 — well, not here, but at Psycho — they played like a band who know they’re on fire, and they are. Don’t let me get all hyped up, but after missing them in NYC, to see them here is a boon.

Same goes for Hippie Death Cult, and Stinking Lizaveta I’ll watch any day of any week and call it a good day. The music radiates joy.

That one-two-three was my must-stuff for the day, which means that everything else is gravy. I sat for a while after Hippie Death Cult finished, found a chair in back of the Dawg House, then decided I’d pop up to the Event Center and see if I could shoot Wolves in the Throne Room. Somewhere along the way someone sent an edict about backpacks I guess.

Wolves in the Throne Room (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There was some back and forth — got that email out again — and yeah, turns out I could shoot Wolves in the Throne Room, and they went on about 15 minutes late but that was still plenty of time to pretend I was in a forest for the second time of the day, pit stop back in my room, and make it to Great Electric Quest’s party back at at Dawg House. In addition to rocking, they did just about everything possible to engage the crowd short of handing out ice cream. Seemed to work for them though and they absolutely brought it. They played like there were 400 people in the room, which there weren’t, and played one more song when demanded by the crowd to do so. Rock and roll show. Pretty sure it’s my first time seeing them. And they used that space on the stage. Up on amps, waving a big green flag, turning classic heavy vibes into epics. They were easy to dig, so I did.

Great Electric Quest (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Later even than that was

A little disorienting? Good. That’s the idea. Time has passed, that’s all you need to know. If you want to know exactly what time it is, you should probably have a different pass. Or not. I’m not really clear on it.

I’m probably the wrong person to be discussing Emperor’s legacy, influence or anything like that, but hell’s bells, I own those records and I can appreciate it. My final three bands of the day were Sasquatch, Mothership and Emperor. So, you know, another night in Anytown USA. Sasquatch came through New York recently but I couldn’t go because let’s face it, my life is way more set up for leaving for a few days once every couple months than it is for going out on a given Friday night, and that’s just where it’s at right now. But to see them any night, anyplace, is a win. Band would seem to have spent the entirety of lockdown on absolute fire, since the second venues opened back up they hit it.

Sasquatch (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Their US tour is almost done, then Australia/New Zealand, then five weeks in Europe. That’s a working fucking band. They played like one. Keith Gibbs on guitar/vocals, Jason Casanova on bass and backing vocals that every time I hear them live I feel like should be used more, and Craig Goshdarn Riggs on drums and a bit more vocals, and they’re just electric. Even in the years since Riggs joined — what, five years ago now? — they’ve gotten tighter in a way that apparently two years without gigs hasn’t dulled so far as I can tell. Or maybe I’m just saying that because Riggs threw a drum stick and hit me with it and I’m worried if I don’t say nice things about the band he might do it again next show. He’s a madman, you know. They all are, those Sasquatch types.

Both they and Mothership brought people into the Dawg House, and fair enough. Neither is an unknown quantity, here or otherwise, but honestly they both killed it dead. Took Mothership about 30 seconds to warm up and they were gone after that. I’d say good luck keeping up, but their grooves make it easy enough to follow where they’re headed, and Kelley and Kyle Juett out front while Judge Smith holds it all together behind. I suppose the kicker there is there’s no real danger of it coming apart, right? These guys are pro-shop heavy rock and roll. They know their sound and their songs inside out, and for all the fucking around, there’s not much actual fucking around, even in jams and introducing the band, saying hi to the members of Rifflord in the crowd and so on. Fuck else do you want to know? They’re a great live act and they played like one. It was not a surprise, but it was a blast.

Mothership (Photo by JJ Koczan)

That’s it. Put Ihsahn from Emperor looking like a black metal Robert Fripp on top — not intended at all as an insult; Fripp just about anything and you’re doing it right — and that’s my evening. I don’t know when the last time Emperor played in the States was, but I’m reasonably sure it was more than a decade ago. And if you’ve ever seen them, they’re basically the reason why black metal both rips and thinks it’s smarter than you. The Event Center/main stage tent is huge. You go outside and then back inside and there’s like a hangar and a massive thankfully air conditioned space that I’m not sure is permanent and I’m not sure isn’t. But I’d been there for Wolves in the Throne Room so knew at least what to expect in that regard.

I won’t say I stayed the entire time for Emperor; it’s just not where I’m at. But I did stay longer than I intended to, and I probably could’ve stuck around for more, but dinner and sleep and that’s-enough-of-that were calling, and I am nothing if not attuned to all of those things.

Emperor (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Kind of terrifying to think this is just day one. Not only is there a whole other day tomorrow, there’s one after that too. Holy shit. It’s not even really the weekend yet.

Save us.

Thanks for reading.

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