By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
Matt and I have had the great pleasure of covering some awesome festivals that have come our way. The first one we covered was Danzig’s first Blackest of the Black Festival, last May. A who’s who of metal artists turned Oak Canyon Park of Silverado, Calif., into a metalhead’s paradise. When I went to Cal Jam 2017, Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters were my voice, when I lost my voice that weekend due to a cold. Then, we were given the opportunity to check out one of the most coveted metal festivals out there, Ozzfest Meets Knotfest. With Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Stone Sour, and Ozzy Osbourne, we were in Metal Mecca. We were starting to crave a new adventure to undertake. Luckily, we were offered such an adventure, when Las Rageous returned for a second year. Played just outside Freemont Street, we got to see a few bands we have not seen yet (Pop Evil, New Year’s Day, Saxon, etc.) while also running into old friends (Ded, Bad Wolves, Joyous Wolf, In This Moment, etc.). Headlining Day 1 were A Day to Remember and A Perfect Circle, while Day 2 was a showcase of Metal Gods Judas Priest and modern metal generals, Five Finger Death Punch. Let us explore Day 1, shall we?
Consisting of 2 stages, Stages F & U, Las Rageous looked to start the weekend out with a bang. With Stage F located on the street of LAS RAGEOUS Blvd, local group Silence Speaks got the show on the road. This is a metal band that won a Battle of the Bands competition to earn a spot on Las Rageous. After listening to them, I can see why they won; they are freaking awesome! They had such prowess on stage, with Brandon Walker full of angst, when he screams into the microphone. I was really impressed with the guitar work of Noah Stephens. Silence Speaks are barely 2 years old, and they are already sharing a stage with A Day to Remember and Pop Evil. That is something to be proud of.
Full Silence Speaks slide show below:
On Stage U, which also happens to be the main stage, came Slaves. The Sacramento band was a last minute replacement for Beartooth, who unfortunately dropped out due to band issues. They are an unusual group to put into this kind of festival, because while they are post-hardcore, they do tread the waters of experimental rock. It is different, but in some ways, exciting. Band leader Jonny Craig, brings a melodic singing style to the experimental sound, which I swear I heard a little bit of a Linkin Park influence. I believe that if there was fan of post-hardcore at the festival, then Slaves was a group for them. Their best performance came from their newest LP, Beautiful Death, entitled “True Colors.” Weston Richmond has constructed some beautiful guitar riffs, while bassist Colin Vieira brought graceful beats. While they were a replacement, they owned the Las Rageous stage.
Full Slaves slide show below:
I headed back to Stage F to check out Los Angeles’ own VYCES. This is a group that bleeds heavy metal, while dressed like they are the Cenobites from Hellraiser. When they started off with “Raptor,” all hell broke loose with their music. Not only can Dave Naruszewick sing harmoniously, but he can be just as terrifying when lets out a big scream. Shawn Patterson is a savage on the guitar, making sweet riffs and blistering solos. The biggest beasts would have to be drummer Russell Ray and bassist Andrew “Bones” Trujillo. Ray is thunderous as well as lighting fast behind his kit, while Bones ravages the bass notes. From “I Will Find You” to “Thin Luck,” VYCES was the epitome of L.A. heavy duty rock ‘n’ roll. The best song to end their set was “To the Tortured.” Though, I did not feel tortured, I felt raging excitement. After this performance, VYCES have got to get signed now.
Full Vyces slide show below:
Hometown boys Otherwise were next on the main stage. Fresh off their newest effort, Sleeping Lions, they came looking to give the Las Rageous crowd a taste of their alternative metal sound. Frontman Adrian Patrick has a soulful voice that can reach high to the Heavens. He would reach the fan’s souls with his majestic vocals, and make that special connection with them. Along with lead guitarist brother Ryan, who was red hot with his solos and riffs, they conquered Stage U. Drummer Brian Medeiros and bassist Tony “The Beast” Carboney are the newest members who owned the main stage with their bombastic rhythmic beats. One would not think they are new the way they gelled in with the Patrick brothers’ style. Being from Las Vegas, this performance felt like a hero’s welcome for them. They crooned to the fans with a bunch of their hit songs, including the beautifully composed classic, “Soldiers.” Otherwise dominated the Vegas scene, cannot wait for them to dominate the Southern California scene.
Full Otherwise slide show below:
After Otherwise, it was time for Pop Evil to wake the lions in me. The hard rockers of Muskegon, Mich., blazed onto the stage, ready to keep the energy going that the fans have been experiencing. Leigh Kakaty sung his heart out and further stimulated the fan’s heavy rock senses. They just released their most daring album as of yet, Pop Evil, and performed 3 songs from the new LP including “Ex Machina,” “Art of War,” and their #1 hit single, “Waking Lions.” Hayley Cramer is their newest drummer and her technique meshes extremely well with the group. She is an excellent replacement for Chachi Riot. Nick Fuelling and Dave Grahs are exhilarating guitarists, and bassist Matt DiRito excelled when blasting the bass beats. Pop Evil was one of the few groups to have an encore set, where they performed their classic hits “Footsteps,” and the ultra suave “Trenches.” Pop Evil was everything I thought they would be as a live act and more. I am sure to see them again when they hit the road with Cheap Trick and Poison this summer.
Full Pop Evil slide show below:
People started to flock to Stage U to check out Anaheim’s head bangers, New Years Day. I have wanted to see them for quite some time, so I was thrilled to get that chance. Ash Costello is a gothic songstress, whose wicked ways on the microphone instilled metal joy in the hearts of every metalhead watching her up there. She also brought out her inner wrath, when she killed the Pantera cover, “Fucking Hostile.” Having just released the EP, Diary of a Creep, New Years Day rocked the stage and gave an all-star performance. Nikki Misery and newcomer Max Georgiev were fierce guitarists, shooting out licks and riffs that made the hair stand up on my arms. Georgiev is an excellent addition along with the tenacious drumming of newbie Zac Morris. I loved hearing “Malevolence,” “Epidemic,” “Other Side,” and “Disgust Me.” What really did it for me, was hearing the righteousness of “Defame Me.” Costello and her boys of alternative wickedness charmed the hell out of Las Rageous.
Full New Years Day slide show below:
It has been a while, but Underøath has returned to glory. Ever since returning to the stage in 2016 after their initial break-up, they have been slaying the rock ‘n’ roll world once again, having released their first album in 8 years, Erase Me. Frontman Spencer Chamberlin has not missed a beat, nailing each lyric with eerie hollows. It was great to see him back to form, ready to take Underøath back to where they belong. His partner in crime, drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie, roars on the drum with underlying power and hits it home with his clean vocals. They hit the Las Rageous metalheads with a slew of tunes, including “Rapture,” “On My Teeth, “Reinventing Your Exit,” and “Ihateit.” The guitar riffs provided by Timothy McTague and James Smith sizzled as they flirted between melodic hard rock and metalcore. The crowd lost its mind when they ended their night with “Writing on the Walls.” All I can say is: welcome back, Underøath! The festival circuit is waiting for you.
Full Underøath slide show below:
Clutch is one of those rock ‘n’ roll bands that go all over the map with their rock style. One of the few rock bands from the 90s that is still around and popular, I would have to say that Clutch was my favorite group of Day 1 next to Pop Evil. They have been riding on the success of their 2 latest albums, 2013’s Earth Rocker and 2015’s Psychic Warfare. Frontman Neil Fallon just oozes charisma and energy. He has this singing style that can make any song he performs danceable. Lead guitarist Tim Sult did a fabulous job with his licks, while drummer Jean-Paul “JP” Gaster and bassist Dan Maines ravaged the rhythmic section. Out of the 12 songs they played, 8 of them were from their Earth Rocker and Psychic Warfare. Their stoner/blues rock feel made the crowd dance the night away, including me. From “X-Ray Visions” to “Noble Savage,” “The Mob Goes Wild,” “Firebirds!” and “One Eye Dollar,” Clutch turned their set into a glorified jam session.
Full Clutch slide show below:
The first of 2 headliners of the night took to Stage F and brought hardcore punk rock to life. Of course, I am talking about metalcore legends A Day to Remember. A group that has been around since my high school days, I was uber excited to finally see them. Jeremy McKinnon was a raging force on the mic. He commands such authority and has a strong presence with the fans. Along with the virtuous guitar work of duo Neil Westfall and Kevin Skaff, A Day to Remember turned the stage on the street into a block party. Most the songs they performed came from their 2009 breakthrough record, Homesick, which included “If It Means a Lot to You,” “The Downfall of Us All” and “Mr. Highway’s Thinking About the End.” The fans were jumping up and down at the sound of their pop punk sound. What was really cool was on the last song, “The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle,” the beach balls started bouncing in the air. Though the song was the last, A Day to Remember wanted the party to go out with a bang. They were better than expected, and they closed out Stage F with punk style.
Full A Day to Remember slide show below:
Its 11:15pm, the lights on Stage U go pitch black, and smoke is surrounding the stage. Maynard James Keenan walked onto the center circle and performed the opener, “Eat the Elephant.” Slowly, but surely, the rest of A Perfect Circle walked and joined in on the psychedelic fun. It has been so long since A Perfect Circle wowed the fans with their eclectic rock ‘n’ roll music. They have just released their first record in 14 years, Eat the Elephant. They performed 8 songs from the album, and they definitely journeyed down a new rabbit hole. Keenan, along with longtime guitarist collaborator Billy Howerdel, wowed the fans their new psychedelic/progressive sound while also maintaining some forms of heaviness that made the fans fall in love with them to begin with. When they played tunes like “Disillusioned,” “TalkTalk,” “Hourglass,” and “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish,” I just closed my eyes and envisioned the songs taking me on a cosmic journey.
It was amazing how the power of music can help transport your mind to a new realm. Guitarist/keyboardist James Iha unfortunately was not there because he has been preparing for the upcoming Smashing Pumpkins reunion tour, so Greg Edwards took on the role and owned it big time. While he laid the rhythmic groundwork, Howerdel shredded some awesome riffs. It was weird having Keenan being on the center stage in the back, but then again, it is the notorious Maynard James Keenan. Sporting long grey hair, he lit up the night with his alluring voice. A Perfect Circle also went into their classics, which included “Weak and Powerless,” “Rose,” “3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix),” and my all-time favorite, “The Outsider.” The fans were in a state of euphoria during their entire set. They ended their hour set with the atmospheric rocker, “Feathers.”
Full A Perfect Circle slide show below:
I would have to say that Day 1 was a better than I expected. I will admit, I was not so sure by this day’s lineup, but they made me change my mind. From Pop Evil to A Day to Remember, Clutch, New Years Day, and A Perfect Circle, my mind was sent to an ecstatic atmosphere. I was overcome with heavy metal and hard rock excitement, not wanting the night to end. Well, with Day 1 in the books, Day 2 was next. My only hope is that it is just as exciting as Day 1 was. To all the groups at Las Rageous, I salute you. Horns up!!!