Let’s get it out of the way right now as I am sure it is on the top of everyone’s mind and the answer is yes, they still let you smoke in Vegas casinos. I know, right? I thought that was all banned to small roped off areas now. The last time I was in Vegas was, well, for Psycho Las Vegas 2019 and I guess it just slipped my mind since it had been forever. Otherwise, not too much has changed besides the standard normal safety procedures that we are all fairly used to by now. Plexi glass partitions, masks, almost touchless everything and even the small amount of people willingly skirting all of the previously mentioned. I was stoked to be back, thrilled actually and dare I say it, happy.
There has not been a huge gathering of the metal masses since Hell and Heaven in Mexico before the world shut down in March of 2020. Yes I have been to one concert since then, but it wasn’t a festival. I also realized this year that there are two different types of people, concert attendees and festival goers. The concert group plans for one night and one night only while festival goers have a long term agenda coupled with unbridled stamina. Pacing, knowing how you process booze at your age and the undying desire to see that one band at 12:30am when you have been at it for twelve hours for three days every day. The fact that some of you winced a little at twelve hours or three days tells me everything I need to know. Technically it was four days.
I was back at the Psycho Swim party this year pre-gaming with a special edition Psycho beer from Crafthaus Brewing watching Old Man Gloom and that was the first time I noticed it. The room in which I could freely move around had increased from last time. I knew there were a lot of cancellations this year since almost every European band skipped the festival due to travel restrictions, but I didn’t think I would be aware of the change. Not going to lie, it was kind of nice to have a little more room and easier access to the stage. I will say the next day when Obituary packed the floor in the arena to the limit, there were less people than last year on the floor so Mandalay seemed to be limiting capacity a little for what I can assume was safety protocol. There were definitely still a lot of people at Psycho and the next three days proved it.
Psycho Swim always seems like a little extra private party since the tickets are more limited and so is the space. Granted I am comparing a good sized pool area to a casino with a lounge, beach and huge arena. It’s a great start to the festival and your metal vacation really since it starts at the pool and sometimes ends there too. Who am I kidding, it ends when you double down on a 13. The nice advantage to the swim night is it ends early and you roam the casinos, strip, random streets, bars, clubs or just about wherever. The first morning of Psycho can sometimes be the most rough. It helps to be with some good people and thankfully I was surrounded by them.
Psycho was the culmination to all the pent up energy and lack of live music for the past what seems like eternity. Everyone was ecstatic to be there, the vibe was grateful and excited. The amount of bands that announced on stage that this was their first show in 18 months and were thrilled to be playing again is almost all of them. The amount of times I heard the discussion second hand on how happy someone was to be there or just be at a show cannot be counted. The sense of normal we needed and wanted was thrust upon us with Psycho Las Vegas.
Another year, another big props going out to the Psycho staff and much respect for how they handled numerous situations of bands not being able to play from members coming down with covid to the bands that couldn’t even get into the country. They had persevered time and time again by getting bands to cover vacant spots all the way up to the start of the festival. I would have loved to see Emperor again along with MGLA and Watain, but it wasn’t in the cards. At least Cult of Fire was able to make it into the country because their show was a definite highlight closing down the House of Blues on Saturday night until almost 2am. Incredible stage show mimicking a Vedic religious ritual with impressive costumes and of course, their atmospheric/black metal style of music with Hindu and Buddhist lyrics. Then there was the killer death metal beach party outside with Pig Destroyer, Dying Fetus and Cannibal Corpse. I would like to believe every water logged circle pit in front of that stage was in tribute to Riley Gale and Power Trip since they basically inspired it in 2019. Riley’s legacy lives on at Psycho as well as in all of the people he met. I was never fortunate enough to have met him, bet I always heard great things.
Between all the other great sets like Danzig cleanly belting out Lucifuge in full, Down crafting Nola from front to back making me lactate, Obituary destroying the feeling in my taint, Midnight exploding my testicles, Goatwhore surgically removing my gallbladder, Devourment breaking necks and Immolation slaughtering souls, there was another side of it all. There were also bands like Osees, Bridge City Sinners, Thievery Corporation, The Flaming Lips, Amigo the Devil and GZA. It is one of the most diverse metal festivals I have ever been to and I hope it never changes. I have found new bands every year at Psycho which is just another reason this festival is unique. Psycho is the one friend you always inevitably ask, “Who the hell is this you’re playing and why is it so damn good!” That is Psycho Las Vegas, they know what you like before you know you’re going to like it so snag the ticket, enjoy the ride with an open mind and I will see you in 2021 at Psycho.
P.S. – A thank you to my people
To my girlfriend Pamela and her group that saved me the first night with Fatburger after I drunkenly walked over two miles to meet them without their knowledge. Really just had more fun with her being present. To my friend Dom from the radio station who took all of the pictures and scolded me about my morning shower beers I used for hydration. To my friend Jon who helped by getting me drunker when I didn’t know I needed it, to my friend Eric for always being a positive go with the flow dude, and to my friend Sean who made me realize mead is not to be drank at 11am, but sipped.
Thank you all, I hope you had as much fun as I did.