Psycho California, now that’s a name that suggests things could get weird fast. Perhaps America’s largest doom metal festival we sent our worrisome journalist Matt Bacon out on the trail to try and get to the heart of the fucked up world represented by this festival. Seeing a ton of bands, meeting a lot of people and being surrounded by drugs can lead to a fascinating weekend if nothing else, and as Matt found out – there is a lot more to the demented depths of doom than might initially meet the eye. Find parts ONE, TWO and THREE and FOUR of our coverage at the links provided.
Sometimes your itinerary gets fucked up and you end up spending an extra day at a friends place in Southern California. In this regard I lucked out in a big way thanks to my wonderful friend Cara who was kind enough to take me in despite a fairly last minute request. Before I go on I need to say – Hailz to those guys, they really helped me out in a time that could have been very bad and possibly even catastrophic (And not just for my bank account) Asides from getting to spend a day with a great friend I got to see the Pacific ocean, and for that I am eternally grateful.
I sit here now in a flight that was 40 minutes late and trying to figure out what the hell is even going to happen when I get home tonight. I’ll have less than 48 hours before I need to head off to the next festival but that’s just the way I like it. It may not be a life for everyone, but it seems to be the one that makes sense for me. The fact of the matter is coming down from this kind of event is hard, especially when in two days I’ll be at a show featuring a handful of the same artists as Psycho California had to offer.
Yet what this weekend really gave me was a better understanding of what doom metal means. It seems like this is the true progression of rock and roll. The fact of the matter is – these bands blur the line. A group like Elder have simply taken “heavy” to an emotional level, something reflected as well in acts like Earth or even Pallbearer. These are bands that have breakout potential and who speak to bleak realities that we all need to face.
One of the prevailing sentiments over the course of the weekend seemed to be distinctly anti-cellphone. The atavistic power of the music means that those who are too far enamored with the digital age will have a hard time figuring out what it’s all about. Yet the vibes remain they speak to a certain type of person, someone who is trying to find their way in a world that is often confusing and usually misleading. If, as TS Eliot said, all we know is a heap of broken images than these are the fragments we have shored against our ruins. The doom metal presented this weekend showed elements of rock and roll mixed in with all other sorts of music – stuff that allows us to see the depth and breadth of the music.
Once you dig in to what it means to be a doom freak it’s hard to find your way out. This isn’t necessarily music for normal people or even happy ones. Buy I get the impression that that isn’t the point. Instead we raise our glasses to a much nobler reality, a world that many choose to ignore. As Rebecca Vernon will constantly say to me “Isn’t it amazing how there’s this huge underground thing going on that almost no one outside of it knows about?” Perhaps it’s better that way – but I hope that Psycho CA will continue to grow and our understanding and our love affair with all that is slow and heavy will one day be shared with the whole world.