There's been a lot of ups and downs on the journey to Psycho Las Vegas, which was supposed to happen in 2020, cancelled for obvious reasons, and then pushed to 2021 but not without multiple lineup changes, including several European bands needing to postpone their sets to 2022. However, Psycho persevered, added some last-minute new names -- including headliners Mastodon, as well as Knocked Loose, Vio-lence, Goatwhore, and Mutoid Man -- and is set to go down August 20-22 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, with the Psycho Swim pre-fest pool party happening August 19.
That all said, Psycho Las Vegas is just as much about the overall experience, as it is the bands. Metal and other music fans and artists congregating at a major casino in the heart of Las Vegas among other vacationing gamblers and tourists in the over the top town is always a surreal experience, and a chance to catch up and party with old and new friends, or at least people watch as you shuffle between the slot machines, restaurants, and many unique stages. As we wrote in our 2019 recap:
The biggest stage, the Events Center, is literally an arena, and each band that played it sounded and looked amazing (major kudos to the sound, video and lights team). Another stage, House of Blues, an actual multi-level club connected to the casino with theater-style seats on the upper level, is also a great room to see live music in...
Thursday night, there were bands at a pool. On Friday, and for the rest of the weekend, one of the stages is a beach, just one is the many bodies of water Mandalay Bay created as part of their vacation mecca.
Tickets for the 2021 fest are still on sale (and set times have been revealed). If you're on the fence, we've put together a list of 11 reasons that Psycho Las Vegas is a fest worth (safely) attending. Here are the set times (click the pic to enlarge), followed by our list...
It's always a big blow when a fest loses a headliner, but it's exciting to learn that Psycho has landed such a big replacement: Mastodon. The progressive sludge lifers have been going strong for 20 years, and even if you don't love their newer music as much as their aughts-era classics, there's no denying that Mastodon still bring it live.
Classic death metal in Vegas
When you think of Las Vegas, you probably think of casinos, the Strip, residencies from aging crooners, but do you think of... classic death metal? Well, thanks to Psycho Las Vegas, now you can. This year's lineup has not one but three pioneering death metal bands: Florida OGs Obituary who helped shape the genre in its earliest days, fellow Floridians Cannibal Corpse who took the genre in a decidedly grosser direction and go on right after fellow vets Dying Fetus, and Immolation, who helped define the New York death metal scene in the late '80s and early '90s.
Mastodon aren't the only very exciting new addition. Kentucky hardcore/metalcore band Knocked Loose were just added too, and that's a pretty big name to tack on this soon before the fest. With their two albums (2016's Laugh Tracks and 2019's A Different Shade of Blue), they've quickly become one of the biggest and best bands within the current metalcore revival, and their live show is nuts.
Psycho Las Vegas started out primarily as a festival for music in the stoner/doom/heavy psych realm, but it's expanded a lot over the years, and 2021 is pretty heavy on classic bands from the emo/hardcore/post-hardcore/metalcore realm. There are bands like Poison The Well and Eighteen Visions, who helped shape metalcore before it blew up in the mainstream, there's the newly-reunited mathcore greats (and Vegas locals) Curl Up and Die, there's emo veterans Cursive, post-hardcore/melodic hardcore veterans Boysetsfire, melodic punk veterans Death By Stereo, and the underrated, back-in-action Adamentium. Better yet, all of those bands all play the same stage (House of Blues on Saturday), so you can get emo all in one place. And if you're excited for those bands, you probably also want to know that emo-adjacent indie rock vets Pinback play that same stage on Friday.
Also of note: Eighteen Visions, Death By Stereo, and Adamentium play a Psycho-presented San Diego show the Tuesday before the fest.
Ty Segall / OSEES on the beach
If you'd like to trip out to two of the best psychedelic garage rock acts around, you're in luck, because scene leaders Ty Segall and OSEES are both playing this fest (on Friday and Sunday, respectively). Both bands always bring the heat, and making things even hotter: they'll both be playing on the beach.
Killer bands by the pool (aka Psycho Swim)
One of the most fun parts of Psycho Las Vegas is Psycho Swim, the Thursday night pool party, which takes place by the pool at the Mandalay Bay Daylight Beach Club and always features tons of cool bands. This year is no exception, with headliners Old Man Gloom, the sludge metal supergroup -- of Aaron Turner (Isis, Sumac), Santos Montano (Zozobra), Nate Newton (Converge), and new member Stephen Brodsky of Cave In (who replaced the late Caleb Scofield) -- who released two great new albums last year, which were their first in six years. They'll be joined by stoner metal greats Bongzilla (fresh off releasing their first album in sixteen years), garage punks Death Valley Girls, Afrobeat-infused metallers Here Lies Man, dark psych band Blackwater Holylight, and more.
Danzig performing Danzig II: Lucifuge
Danzig playing a classic album in full is always worth seeing, and this year he'll headline Psycho Las Vegas' Main Stage on Saturday with a performance of his classic 1990 sophomore album, Danzig II: Lucifuge. It's one of the Misfits frontman's best solo albums, and it's a rare one to see. A few years back, he did a handful of Danzig III: How the Gods Kill shows, but some of the Lucifuge songs haven't been performed since the '90s.
The Flaming Lips
Though Psycho still has a primarily metal/heavy music lineup, do you realize that one of its biggest names is The Flaming Lips? If it sounds weird on paper, consider that The Flaming Lips were a noisy punk band before half the bands on this lineup even formed, they're masters of modern psychedelia, and they've got plenty of bad-acid-trip-inducing tracks that are creepier sounding than some of the metal bands. Also, a Flaming Lips concert is a one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience that even the most stubborn metalheads should try once.
GZA performing Liquid Swords before a late-night HEALTH set
There isn't really much in the way of hip hop on this festival, but there's one must-see rap set: the legendary GZA performing his iconic 1995 sophomore album Liquid Swords. Wu-Tang members always fit right on rock festivals, and this extra special GZA set on the beach should be no exception. To keep the party going after GZA, head to House of Blues, where industrial-noise-pop greats HEALTH play a late-night set from 12:30 AM to close. HEALTH's albums are catchy, but their live show is a heavy sensory-overload that's perfect for a metal-oriented fest.
Down playing NOLA + Eyehategod, High On Fire, Weedeater, Red Fang
Danzig isn't the only headliner playing a full album. Back-in-action New Orleans sludge supergroup Down (members of Pantera, Eyehategod, Corrosion of Conformity & Crowbar) are playing their classic 1995 debut album NOLA in full. Psycho 2020 was originally the first show announced for their NOLA set (but then the pandemic happened and they did it as a livestream), so this is a long time coming. For even more sludge at Psycho, there's related legends Eyehategod, Psycho mainstays Weedeater, and giants like High On Fire and Red Fang, and more.
Best of current metal
Psycho's got a lot of veteran acts, but it's also got some of the best bands in today's metal scene, including blackened shoegazers Deafheaven (whose anticipated new album comes out the day before their Psycho set), noisy deathgrinders Full of Hell (who just announced a new album), the inhumanly heavy sludge band Primitive Man, trad-doomers Khemmis, hardcore-infused death metallers Creeping Death, and probably some others that we're missing.
Get your Psycho Las Vegas tickets here and see the full lineup and set times below:
(click the set times pic to enlarge)
Pics from 2019 below:
See and read more HERE.
2021 Psycho tickets HERE.