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(Concert Review) PSYCHOFEST 2021

Written by: Mark McQueen

Here is my report of four days and nights (and the 44 bands) that I got to watch in that time frame in Las Vegas from August 19-22. Psychofest is the biggest and longest of the festivals I go to on any given year and, as a result, its review is the longest thing I write all year.

This one is no different as it clocks in around 5000 words, (which frankly is 4500 more than most of my friends want to read). This is what I enjoy though, so this is what I do. I am no professional critic, just a guy who’s been watching and listening to Metal for over 40 years and that means I know what I like and what I don’t. That doesn’t mean it is even close to what YOU know or like. I think I write with some intelligence, a bit of humor and a flair for keeping you engaged. This mixes my experience over the four days with how I felt and what I thought while checking out these bands and sets.

I hope you enjoy reading along with my adventures and hearing about some of the many acts this fest brings to bear. Maybe I interest you enough to attend yourself in 2022!

Disclaimers and Guidelines to this Review:

· Only the individual set witnessed is being reviewed. This is not an evaluation or reflection on the band as a whole

· Slotting can affect the number/ranking. An average set following a below average one will likely result in a higher number than the same set following one which tore the roof off.

· Technical difficulties in sound, equipment or lighting can adversely affect the ranking even though this may not be the fault of the act performing.

· This only reflects my personal opinion, (and is therefore colored to some degree by the genre/subgenres I enjoy). Do not feel the need to punch me in the face if I don’t like your face!

· Scoring:

  • Less than 70: Frankly I didn’t enjoy your act

  • 70-79: You were fine for the moment, but I likely won’t remember you and won’t seek you out

  • 80-89: Good set. I enjoyed you and would want to see you again.

  • 90+: Excellent act. Definitely want to see you again, and I probably bought some of your merchandise.

· Finally, if you enjoy this review, tell everyone Mark McQueen is great. If you hate this review, my name is Bob Sackamatchu.

Worst to First

44. Curl Up & Die 59/100

Las Vegas local band Curl Up & Die came up snake eyes for me this year. I did not enjoy their fusion of punk and metal finding their screaming vocals and overall sound to be very off-putting. As a matter of fact, I left about halfway through their set.

43. Foie Gras 60/100

This San Fran artist combined bits of pop, synth, rock, and drone. Sometimes when you mix ingredients that don’t really belong together, you get an amazing finished product. Sometimes though, you also get “Foie Gras”. Fatty goose liver is definitely NOT for everyone and neither was this act. The merger of styles was off-putting, as was the silly shoulder ruffles singer Iphigenia Douleur sported as her stage outfit. Overall, I was not a fan.

42. Kanga 65/100

This was one of my mistaken “audibles” . I had some time and checked out about four numbers from this electronic artist. She had a synth in the corner of the stage and she played some “house style music” then danced some. I felt that as an aerobics instructor, she had something. As an act at Psychofest, not so much.

41. Drab Majesty 68/100

The closing act of the festival was a darkwave duo who looked like Andy Worhol's illegitimate twins. In fairness to them, I am not an electronic act fan, and it had been a long 13 hour day of music after 3 previous long days of music. As such, I probably didn’t have the patience left to give this band the chance they deserved. It did seem that chicks dug them, but the guys mostly sat on their hands and stared vacantly like I did.

40. Full Of Hell 68.5/100

I grew up liking metal from the late 70’s on. I have always had my favorite genres and sub-genres. And as the years go by I expand my knowledge, and ultimately my appreciation, of styles such as thrash, black, and death metal (which aren’t what I naturally gravitate towards). That said, grindcore remains an art style I just cannot appreciate. I know THAT is its beauty for its fans. They don’t want me to like it. In fact they want me to hate it. Mission accomplished.

39. Black Water Holy Light 69/100

This five piece female band played second on the very first day at the pool stage. Their brand of depressive, almost emo/psyche, music, although tolerable, never captured my attention musically or vocally until the very last song where they kicked it into gear and actually sounded like a rock band. If they had done a set of songs like that, they would be much higher on this list.

38. Flavor Crystals 69.5/100

When your band title makes me think “hmmm…I should add that to my lemon-aid” that MAY not be the best approach to gaining my support as a musical act. That said, this jam band just kind of found a groove and hung out there for a set. There was nothing offensive about the music although I found the vocals way too soft over the top of the music. (Author note: the previous few bands were screamers…remember what I said about slotting making a difference?) Anyway, like actual flavor crystals, this band probably made water taste like water with some flavor, but they definitely weren’t turning it into wine….or even beer.

37. Here Lies Man 70/100

First band of the entire festival and they tried to present a little of a lot. Some rock. Some synth. Some psyche. Keys and even some flute. I never thought they got off the ground and distinguished themselves. They did up the heaviness of their numbers after a mostly apathetic crowd response to the first few. Once they infused some stoner grooves to the songs, the crowd largely grew more receptive. A bit too little, too late and too early in the festival. RIP.

36. Osees 70.5/100

Setting up, I was interested in this act as they had two drummers. Trying to make that work requires some skill and effort and I was curious what this punk-style band was going to do. Ultimately they failed to engage me with either mid temp or fast numbers. I didn’t hate them, I just didn’t really like them either.

35. Black Sabbitch 71/100

An all-female Black Sabbath tribute act. I wanted to like them. In Psychofest 2019, I enjoyed Motorbabe (all female Motorhead tribute act). Problem here was these ladies didn’t rise to the level they wanted to emulate. I thought the drummer was pretty good, but musically and vocally I just wasn’t impressed by their knock-off Sabbath numbers. I just think the mountain was too high to climb ... and it’s no good if you can ascend only part way up.

34. Adamantium 71.5/100