From Candy’s lunchtime hardcore set to Bruce Lamont’s Led Zeppelin tribute band playing in the middle of the casino at 1 AM, there was never a dull moment on the first official day of Psycho Las Vegas at its new home of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. We got a lot of exercise as we ran back and forth between the various stages spread out across the casino complex.

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, though the high stage and barricade make it a little odd for things like hardcore.

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. Seeing bands up on the high beach stage, far from the crowd who were standing in sand and water, outside, was a bit weird, but the novelty was cool. Unlike our photographer, I only saw Yob on this stage, and it felt a bit disconnected for me personally, but it was a quick visit and the novelty made up for it. The synth-wave of Perturbator at night, which I missed for other sets, was “bumping,” according to a friend.

The fourth stage — where Royal Thunder played to a packed and appreciative afternoon crowd — was literally located in the middle of the casino and technically free for anybody walking by, but also built in a way that the sound doesn’t interfere with the enjoyment of little old ladies playing the slots.

Electric Wizard played an epic, heart-thumping and ear-shattering headlining set on the big stage. It was the same location where, earlier, High on Fire sounded and looked huge, with Matt Pike in fine form after recent medical troubles, and Nick Parks from Gaytheist taking over drumming duties since Des Kensel left the band. Godspeed You! Black Emperor and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown both blew minds on the big stage, the latter of which is a legend that shows no signs of age and truly delivered an arena-ready show early in the afternoon, complete with pyrotechnics, lasers, video and many costume changes.

Goatwhore was another major highlight, a skilled veteran band who had House of Blues moving and chanting. Fellow veterans Glassjaw delivered a strong set of Long Island post-hardcore that was a special treat on the stoner-metal filled lineup.

And last but not least: the second-ever show from Phil Anselmo’s new non-metal project En Minor, which defied expectations with an 80 minute set at midnight, complete with well-rehearsed eight piece band, cello and Phil in a suit included. More on that later.

Check out pictures from the whole day, including Bad Religion, Cold Cave, Fu Manchu, LA Witch, Hangman's Chair, and Graveyard, as well as the bands already mentioned, in the gallery above, and some fan-taken video clips below.


photos by Ben Stas

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