Four-day rock 'n' roll bacchanal hits Sin City
Megadeth main man Dave Mustaine’s June announcement of a throat cancer diagnosis rattled the hard rock world while potentially dealing a significant blow to Psycho Las Vegas 2019. Megadeth, co-architects of the thrash metal sound that influenced many of the bands on this year’s Aug. 15-18 lineup, would have been the Saturday headliner at Mandalay Bay Events Center for the four-day, five-venue “bacchanalia” of the loudest, fastest and heaviest bands in modern music.
Fortunately for festivalgoers, Glenn Danzig was available, and amenable to performing alongside original Misfits bassist Jerry Only billed as “The Original Misfits.” The Misfits were a seminal influence on nascent thrashers like Mustaine and drummer Dave Lombardo (formerly of Slayer and as of late a Misfit) and were founding fathers of hardcore punk, adding further pedigree to the debut of Psycho Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay after its initial years at the Hard Rock Hotel.
The Original Misfits, with only five shows on their calendar for the rest of the year, follow Friday night’s Events Center headliner Electric Wizard and precede Swedish progressive metallists Opeth, who close out the festival Sunday night. It’s Opeth’s only North American appearance this year, preceding the release of In Cauda Venenum, their “most important record to date,” according to founding member Mikael Åkerfeldt. While the album won’t be released until September, it’s unlikely Åkerfeldt would exclude new material on the occasion of a rare Opeth appearance.
Dorset, England, gloom-and-doom stars Electric Wizard make their singular stateside performance after wrapping the band’s latest U.S. tour in April. Now featuring former Hawkwind bassist Haz Wheaton, the band’s core partnership of founder Jus Oborn and guitarist Liz Buckingham still has the wind at its back after the success of 2017’s Wizard Bloody Wizard. Without being able to transfer Black Sabbath circa 1971 to the festival, Psycho Las Vegas did the next best thing.
The festival also booked Led Zeppelin 2 to top the rosters at Rhythm & Riffs Lounge located in Mandalay Bay’s casino floor on Friday and Saturday nights, but whether Led Zeppelin 2 performs Zeppelin’s second album in its entirety or are the supergroup’s second coming is still a mystery. Mandalay Bay Beach gives headbangers a chance to soak up the outdoors and get wet in the water to a live soundtrack performed over three days by the likes of Bad Religion, Fu Manchu, The Black Angels, Mark Lanegan, Power Trip and Kadaver. Candy opens the House of Blues concerts shortly after noon Friday followed by acts including Goatwhore, Glassjaw, The Obsessed, Vio-Lence and Amenra.
A Thursday poolside pre-party headlined by Corrosion of Conformity may be the only time many Psycho attendees won’t be experiencing the inspired scheduling at the Events Center. Shock rock godfather Arthur Brown kicks things off Friday afternoon before sets by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, High on Fire, Carcass, Clutch and Mogwai, The Faint and Monophonics Saturday and on Sunday, Deafheaven and Beach House before Opeth’s concluding concert.
Mustaine and Megadeth may be missed, but this year’s Psycho Las Vegas validates Mandalay Bay’s efforts to reposition itself as the ripest megaresort for music festivals on the Strip.
Mandalay Bay, noon Aug. 16-18, three-day pass starting at $249 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849 AXS