For the first time since the start of the pandemic, I finally broke my live event cherry this past weekend, and not just for heavy metal, but for pro wrestling as well. This past weekend was the annual Psycho Las Vegas festival and they were kind enough to invite me out to check out the festivities and I was more than ready to see a show. And, it just so happened that WWE SummerSlam was right across the street, so how could I not go?
While a few of the bands I wanted to see on Psycho had to drop off due to travel restrictions, I was more than satisfied to know Mastodon would be headlining one of the nights as a replacement.
I landed in Vegas on Thursday and headed right for the fancy outdoor stage and the first band I saw was the all-woman psychedelic band Blackwater Holylight. As they kicked into their first notes, there was a rush of goosebumps and I almost got emotional, feeling the bass reverberate through my body. I was back at a show! Other bands I checked out on night one were Bongzilla and the always awesome, always heavy Old Man Gloom. There was much drinking to be had, but as I was jetlagged it was time for bed.
Day two kicked off with heading down to the pool to get some laps in. After that, I was able to catch Mutoid Man who sounded as great as ever, and even played a new song. Mutoid Man is one of my favorite current acts, so I'm really looking forward to this new release.
Other fun bands I saw on day two included Knocked Loose, Goatwhore and Khemmis, who sounded absolutely flawless and crisp. Mastodon headlined the main stage and offered a really fun set of new and classic tunes and reminded me of how much I enjoy the band even I haven't necessarily put them on my stereo lately. It was fun to catch part of Cephalic Carnage's set as I always had a special place in my heart for them and I rushed over to the pool stage to catch some of GZA. Everybody was down with the Wu-Tang Clan when GZA was performing.
As I was fighting through passing out, I managed to catch LA industrial experts Health, a band whose discography I really dove into during the pandemic. I made through the set and watched as metalheads turned the rock club into a dance club. That was it for me, I was calling it a night.
Saturday was a unique day for me, with WWE Summerslam across the street, I somehow had to make both shows work.
I started the day watching metalcore greats Curlupanddie and Big Business. I also caught a bit of Eighteen Visions, which was a fun time. The two days of drinking were catching up to me. Deafheaven also brought a fun live show.
Now, it was time to make the 10-minute walk to the Allegiant Stadium to catch WWE Summerslam. All weekend, I was in a smoke-filled casino looking at fun metal shirts or people on vacation at the casino. As soon as I got over the bridge to the stadium, it was as if I was transported into another world. 40,000 wrestling fans were piling into the stadium, all looking the part, wearing merch for their favorite WWE superstars.
Entering the stadium, I was blown away at the production values. WWE is of course at the top of the list in terms of production and it's always a marvel to come and see the massive scope of their shows.
All of the sudden, the bell rang, and here I am also at my first wrestling show since the start of the pandemic. I settled in and enjoyed the show, and it was a great reprieve to take a break and catch some matches.
My personal highlights were watching the Usos vs. the Mysterios and Damian Priest vs. Sheamus. It was also really fun to witness Becky Lynch's return and feel that crowd roar.
Sadly, because I was at this, I was unable to catch Silvertomb, but everybody I spoke with said they crushed it. I managed to get back just in time to catch a bit of Pig Destroyer before heading to the main stage to watch Danzig perform Danzig II. Danzig looked to be in a great mood, and performed an awesome set, including a lot of tracks from the first Danzig album that left me smiling ear to ear.
I lost track of time and sadly missed Dying Fetus (which just means I need to see them when they come to New York next month) but the most fun set of the weekend might have been seeing Cannibal Corpse on the pool stage. It looked like something out of Metalocalypse. And of course, Corpsegrinder's stage banter is the absolute best and after coming back from Summerslam, I couldn't help but compare his banter to wrestling promos, as he challenged fans to out-headbang him.
Sunday was when everything started catching up with me. My body wasn't used to this much partying and walking around but I powered through, so to speak, and checked out sets from Vitriol, Creeping Death, Integrity, and Weedeater. High on Fire delivered, as always and I had so much fun watching Midnight perform. If they're coming to your town, you should go see them. Dance artist Kanga was a surprise and sounded almost like nothing else that weekend. Immolation brought some excellent New York death metal riffage that felt like a caffeine blast to the skull, and Amigo The Devil performed one of my favorite sets of the weekend, just him and his guitar being his charming self, playing his dark acoustic jams. Down headlined the main stage and it seems like the pandemic did a lot of good for Phil's voice, as he was able to hit all the crooning parts. In general, everybody was having a fun time. One highlight was marveling at drummer Jimmy Bower smoking a joint while playing and never missing a beat. After Down, I went out to the pool stage to catch the last of Weedeater. As Full of Hell started playing, I was digging them a lot but by the end of the set, it was hard to keep my eyes open.
Oh no, I realized I am an old man and just can't hang the way I used to. Sadly, I did not get to see as many friends as I could've because all the partying was late and I was still on an east coast sleeping schedule.
But, it was incredible to be at concerts again and really overdose on metal for my first time back. Psycho Las Vegas is a great time, and they did a great job organizing the festival and making it diverse, and having something going on at all times. If you're looking for a trip to Vegas next year, this seems like the way to go.
And WWE Summerslam was a completely different and equally unique experience. After 18 months of a pandemic, having my first wrestling show be a massive stadium show was certainly a shot in the arm and it was very impressive to see what a massive machine the WWE is and how large in scale it was.
Overall, it was a weekend I will never forget.