Text & Photos Bobby Cochran
Nothing gets one in the spirit of a full day of live heavy music like the death-spiral durges of Richmond VA’s Cough, who opened Saturday’s festivities in the main room at The Joint. Today’s main room lineup was pretty staggering, with NWOBHM vets Diamond Head, Scandinavian folk/black metal sorceress Myrkur, and grindcore granddaddies Carcass filling up the afternoon slots in awesome succession. Ace Frehley brought some levity and old fashioned rock & roll to the masses, and despite his garbled and somewhat incoherent banter between songs, Ace and the band powered through a rousing set of solo Ace tracks and a classic Kiss song or two. Instrumental psychedelic jam masters Earthless came and saw and jammed the fuck out before making way for French metal titans Gojira. If the room wasn’t already full by the time Gojira finished their set, it sure as hell was by the time Neurosis took the stage. What else can be said about the boys from Oakland who’ve set the standard that so many other bands have followed… their uncompromising, bare-bones heaviness is catharsis in musical form. But the night ain’t over yet. All hailed King Diamond, who brought his full stage setup, complete with double staircase, lit-up brass pentagram at the apex, and huge upside down crosses over the balconies. The King’s still got it, more than 30-plus years after he started.
The Vinyl stage was fully stacked as well, starting with Boston’s Summoner, followed by doom masters Hollow Leg, and stoner rock vets Snail. Mid-afternoon hit fever pitch with the arrival of SLC’s Cult Leader, who I must admit was one of the highlights of the weekend for me. Powerful sonic brutality, uncompromising and relentless. Hot on the heels of Cult Leader, France’s Celeste donned red, glowing headlamps, shut all the lights off, and blasted into a 45 minute set punctuated by disorienting strobe flashes and fog. London’s Elephant Tree, doom/crust vets Morne, and classic metal masters The Skull brought their A-game, and despite having the unfortunate timeslot that coincided with Neurosis’s main stage set, Philly’s Heavy Temple made a strong Las Vegas debut and brought their A-game as well. Experimental electro-metal ensemble Saturndust and coldwave maestro GoST closed things out.
The Pool Stage wasn’t gonna be left sitting on the sidelines, though. All hands were on deck for 7:30 PM launch of southern sludge masters Weedeater, followed by psychedelic throwbacks Blood Ceremony, progressive doom masters Inter Arma, and the captivating, witchy occult-rock of Jex Thoth. The late night closing slot was reserved for Genesis P-Orridge Breyer’s psych-dance-rock ensemble Psychic TV, making beautiful music that drifted through the hot desert air well into the wee hours.