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.
California is a freaky place and I never thought my music writing would take me out here – but here I am – waiting for my plane in Santa Ana after the madness of Psycho California – one of the largest gatherings of doom freaks to ever take place on this side of the Atlantic. There is a sort of perverse charm to these kind of event – sure the bands are great and you get to see your friends but there’s also a anthropological interest generated by seeing so many dropouts and permafried acid lovers in one place. Are these people the new Hells Angels or are they something else completely? Suffice to say – it makes you look at the whole darned human comedy and wonder how it can keep perpetuating itself when shit like this is allowed to happen.
To be honest though the worst part was getting there. I found out three days before I was meant to leave that I had misbooked my flights and had to fix it at great personal cost. It’s all water under the bridge, but the weekend was not off to a good start. That being said – flying out to California went well and I even met a few doom freaks (Including Subrosa fans) along the way. The real issue though came with being picked up from Santa Ana airport. Due to a wealth of miscommunications and general poor organization on my part I would be staying with a friend of a friend who I only knew from Internet chats and phone calls. Probably not my best bet. Furthermore I would have to wait in the airport for 8 hours for him to pick me up -not a good time.
Yet somehow this stranger did pick me up and he decided not to murder me. As we sped down the highway, I saw my new friend, John, take a swig from a can. Had I fucked up this badly? Was I in the car with someone who so nonchalantly violated that sacred rule of “Don’t drink and drive”? Maybe this is just how California is… I was freaked out and felt obligated to say something:
“Make that your last beer eh?” I chided.
“The can you just finished, that was beer right?”
“Oh shit dude – that was an energy drink!”
Well then. I guess being a worrywart doesn’t really pay off.
Suffice to say we arrived to our destination without further incident and I sunk into a real bed (!) for the first time in what felt like months. I had not gotten to see a lot of California in my first hours there, but I didn’t care. However, I got a vibe that this place was distinctly plastic and might be hard to full adapt too. What twisted visions were going to be unveiled before me? Perhaps the truly fucked up world was not the one I was about to enter the following day at The Observatory, but instead the one I was already in. My journey to the heart of a doomed hell had finally begun.