Sunday – the final day of Psycho. I was wiped out – as was pretty much everybody else – but somehow we would have to power through. After all some of the best sets of the festival were to come, as a matter of fact most of my favorite individual performances came on Sunday, which was especially shocking considering how overwhelmed I had been on all the great stuff I had seen on the previous three days. There comes a time when you hit a wall with these things, but in the doom world sometimes you have to climb over that wall and watch Alice fucking Cooper.
First up was INVDRS featuring Andy Patterson of Subrosa and, perhaps more importantly Inside Out, fame. The band plays a distinct brand of hardcore influenced sludge metal and it is incredible. Violent, demented and over the top it’s hard not to love what the band did with their decimating 1:30 PM set. They left all of us on our knees, broken by the punishing balls out assault the band managed to compile with just a few terrifying chords. The punishing energy and twisted exultations showcased in the work of INVDRS is mesmerizing. It gives us a look into a weirder future for the band and tells us that so much more is possible than we might think. INVDRS are the loudest band in Salt Lake City and they are truly awesome.
Immediately following INVDRS on the Vinyl stage was the almighty Tombstones. Though it had been years since I had seen them last I hadn’t forgotten how good they were live. Fortunately this performance perfectly fit my memories. They unleashed some of the most beautiful and transcendent doom to be found on the Psycho lineup. Their performance was perfectly orchestrated and tastefully executed with touches of improv to fill out an incredibly lush sound. With only the occasional growl permeating waves of stunning melodies and top notch drumming Tombstones evidenced that they are a force of nature, and one who deserve to be touring America on an annual basis.
I wandered off to score some interview or another then (I did 25 on the weekend!) and couldn’t help but to reflect at how perfect this whole thing was. Not only where we getting the chance to inadvertently scare shirtless bros, but there was an extremely positive overall vibe. Sure we had to get groped in order to see bands but then you turn around and you have all manner of new friends wandering around behind you. It was a weekend based on dualities – the most impressive of course being the strangely corporate nature of this whole thing with the massive hordes of bearded metal dudes who just want to talk to you about how good Mudhoney are.
I kept to the Vinyl stage though when the hour was ripe for me to go back to watching bands – this time to see Mantar who came on a full forty minutes late due to technical difficulties. Nevertheless – Mantar being Mantar they utterly destroyed the stage and left the masses in total awe of all that they have come to represent. This is one of the most exciting and pure rock and roll bands in the world. They decimate crowds and choke you out, crafting soundworlds of the sort most can only dream of. Mantar combine everything that I love about underground music and unleash it in spectacular fashion. This is what heavy rock needs to be about in 2016 and Mantar know it. I count myself lucky for having gotten to see them twice this summer – no one is quite the same.
Candlemass are a band I had wanted to see live for years now. They are wonderfully geeky and reflect the doom freak in all of us. Sure they are aging a bit but as luck would have it they remain incredibly exciting and strangely charming. They get the beautiful dorkery of rock and roll and want to let you do the dance of death with them. This is the sort of band who aren’t going anywhere – merely playing the same small clubs and charming freaks all over the world time and time again. This is what doom should be about – epic operatic vocals and punishingly slow riffs that tear your heart apart. Every crashing chord left me a little more deeply in love. Candlemass are a doom nerds doom band and they know it. So of course they slaughtered the worlds perhaps biggest ever gathering of doom nerds.
Because of the delay on the Vinyl stage I was also able to catch a lot of With Mountain’s frankly spectacular set. This is a band I have seen seven times now (Possibly more – I can’t recall) and they seem to be on an awesome upward trajectory. Obviously at the forefront is Kayla Dixon, the stunningly talented frontwoman whose voice can do apparently anything. She’s not the only thing that makes Witch Mountain great though, Rob Wrong, now hardened off of multiple tours with The Skull has started to take his already mythical guitar playing into the stratosphere. The combination of elements that this band represents hints at so much more greatness to come. Sure Witch Mountain have been around for 20 years but this is only the beginning. Toss in the fact that the band now has a rhythm section who actually like each other and it seems like they’ve got a fitting recipe for success.
Even though I’ve already seen Sleep a handful of times, and even though the concept behind the band seems almost laughably simple I was still elated to see them again. They have the sort of massive riffs and dominating stage presence that none of their peers can compete with. Flanked by two massive projections of weed leaves, Sleep unleashed nonstop stoner madness to the gathered thousands – each and every one having a transcendent and life affirming experience at the hands of Matt Pike’s Les Paul. This is a band with an absolutely top notch stage show, as stripped down as it is, it is all that it needs to be. The guys just revel in the marijuana infused goodness of it all and let you remain in awe of the music.
The real treat of the entire festival was Alice Cooper. To have a big name rock star like him on stage with folks like Danava having played the same stage earlier in the day was shocking and beautiful. It gave us a glimpse into a different world – one where giant live snakes were just a part of the stage show and hard rocking guitarists are a dime a dozen. Alice Cooper and his band understand the fundamental spirit of rock and roll. Everything about their performance and execution reeks of it. In many ways I would go so far as to call his work the gold standard of the genre. He played all of the classics (But none of my favorite deep cuts unfortunately) and then culminated in a triumphant medley of Pinball Wizard, Suffragette City and Ace Of Spades. Of course we shouted ourselves hoarse. How could we not? We had been baptized in the blood of rock and roll royalty.
I made my way to the after party then DJ-ed by Nate Carson. I flirted with some pretty girls. Said goodbye to some old friends and generally found absolution in the twisted madness that defines so many of these bands. There was something wonderfully soothing about listening to my friend DJ for a chilled out Blacklight Lounge. The pressure was suddenly gone. We had all survived. Sure I was going to party until six in the morning and probably get nowhere near enough sleep but that was fine. Even in the dregs of rock and roll debauchery we know that we have events like this that bring us together and show us that the dream shall continue no matter what.