Las Vegas’ latest festival entrant, Psycho Las Vegas, kicks off later this week, bringing close to 100 heavy-rock bands—and thousands of their fans—to the Hard Rock Hotel from Thursday through Sunday.
The acts, ranging from metal maestros to psychedelic explorers with detours into electronic music and even comedy, will play inside the Joint, Vinyl and at the pool (one will even perform inside restaurant Culinary Dropout). And the music will go all weekend, almost literally, with Saturday’s sounds scheduled to begin around noon and end at 7 a.m. Sunday morning.
At press time, day tickets and weekend passes remained available, so if you’re on the fence—or if you’re already planning to go and just need help planning an itinerary—consider these 10 bands a Psycho starter kit.
Psycho Las Vegas August 25-28, $99 day/$250 weekend, Hard Rock Hotel, psycholv.com.
To see these fuzzed-out alt-rock vets—birthed from the same Seattle scene that produced Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and others during the late ’80s and early ’90s—you’ll need a three-day fest pass. That will grant access to Psycho’s pool pre-party, which will find Mudhoney topping an eight-act bill that also includes SoCal desert-rock throwbacks Fatso Jetson and fast food-themed Black Sabbath cover band Mac Sabbath. Thursday, August 25, 9:30 p.m., pool.
If you can get to the Hard Rock by midday Friday, kick off the festival proper by melting your mind to these Oregon doom gurus. Expect the band’s 40-minute timeslot to be comprised of a few of its famously lengthy compositions—or maybe just one. Friday, August 26, 2 p.m., the Joint.
Festival organizer Evan Hagen says he began his musical life as a “hardcore kid,” and that background is reflected in the inclusion of these Massachusetts metalcore-ists. Converge has been at it since 1990, with the quartet’s most recent studio LP, 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind, its best-selling effort to date. Friday, August 26, 5:40 p.m., the Joint.
Drive Like Jehu
Friday’s “headliner” actually plays third to last on the main stage. The San Diego post-hardcore foursome, reunited since 2014 after an original early-’90s run, shared its lead guitarist with Rocket From the Crypt and later spawned Hot Snakes. Hearing “Bullet Train to Vegas” in Vegas should be a bucket-list moment. Friday, August 26, 10 p.m., the Joint.
The Vegas scene’s lone Psycho representative has name-checked Candlemass and Sleep as two foremost influences over the years, and now the rising doom rockers get to share a festival bill with both. Show up early Saturday and root for the home team. Saturday, August 27, 3 p.m., Vinyl.
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Fusing bluesy garage-rock, trippy psych and even creeping doom, these Brits sound like they time-warped from metal’s early days, taking cues from Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper but updating that sound with distinctly modern flourishes. Saturday, August 27, 8:29 p.m., the Joint.
These Japanese experimentalists’ Psycho participation started looking cloudy last week, when a band member’s illness forced Boris to cancel a run of U.S. shows. But a post on the band’s Facebook page indicates the West Coast dates are still on, which means Vegas will get a full rendition of 2005 album Pink (though hearing it all will necessitate missing much of Electric Wizard’s main-stage-headlining set). Saturday, August 27, 11:20 p.m., pool.
These Swedes’ 1986 debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, helped define the doom metal subgenre, and songwriter/bassist Leif Edling has steered the band through breakups and lineup changes in the decades since. The latest version, featuring Mats Levén on lead vocals, has been together since 2012. Sunday, August 28, 7 p.m., the Joint.
Festival founder Evan Hagen calls this San Jose trio “the glue that keeps Psycho together,” and anyone lucky enough to have seen the band in concert understands why. There’s nothing quite like a Sleep set, during which sonic intensity and hypnotic repetition become one primal force from which there’s no escape. Sunday, August 28, 10 p.m., the Joint.
The Cosmic Dead
On their Facebook page, these space-rockers describe themselves as “Scotland’s foremost Hawkwind tribute band,” and the joke actually makes some sense, sonically speaking. While you’re recovering from Sleep’s assault—and preparing for Alice Cooper to close it all out—sneak out to the pool for a meditative palate cleanser. Sunday, August 28, 11;20 p.m., pool.