By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
The first day of the 2nd Annual Las Rageous Festival was an epic one. Not only did we party hard for A Day to Remember, but we also had our minds travel to another realm thanks to A Perfect Circle. This has been, so far, one of the best music festivals I have ever been to, and I have been to Ozzfest Meets Knotfest and Stagecoach. Day 1 may be over, but the festivities were just beginning. Day 2 looked primed to pack a huge punch, with probably the heaviest lineup yet. We would be witnessing old school metal meets new school metal. I mean, Matt and I were actually going to witness the mighty Judas Priest and the resilient Five Finger Death Punch. I have never seen both groups, and we were ready for the boom.
Kicking things off over at Stage F, was a band I had the pleasure of seeing in its debut performance. Bad Wolves, hailing from my area of Los Angeles, is the newest supergroup with members coming from DevilDriver, In This Moment, and Divine Heresy. I know for a fact that Bad Wolves is a whole new monster looking to lay siege to the hard rock community. Vocalist Tommy Vext not only brought a powerful voice with him, but he also delivered a special connection to the fans, especially those who came to see him. Lead and rhythm guitarists Doc Coyle and Chris Cain were a bombastic combination, slaying the crowd with their riffs. They played some great songs, but the most memorable moment was performing their cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie.” It was a moving performance because it was a tribute to the late frontwoman of the Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan, who unfortunately passed on earlier this year. The fans chanted the chorus with Vext, who then cried, for it was a fitting movement for him. Hell of a way for Bad Wolves to end their show.
Full Bad Wolves slide show below:
Things started to heat up over at Stage U, when Arizona’s new golden boys of heavy metal, Ded, hit the stage. I have seen these guys twice already; I can say that their energy is matched only by nu metal legends Korn. Vocalist/MC Joe Cotela stirred the fans up into a party craze, instructing them to start moshing. Ever the effective frontman, Cotela is one vicious mother when he grabs the mic. Guitarist David Ludlow brought heavy duty riffs that made fists go up in the air, while bassist Kyle Koelsch and drummer Matt Reinhard were just as commanding with rhythmic blasts as they were the last time I saw them. Their debut LP, Mis•an•thrope, has been a hit making machine for them, with fans enjoying the anti-establishment songs. From “Anarchist” to “Hate Me,” “FMFY,” and “I Exist,” Ded are barely a year and a half old, and already on the main stage. They ended the set with a favorite in the mosh pit, “Anti-Everything,” a song I always mosh to. For me, Ded will never get old.
Full Ded slide show below:
The bad boys of the OC, Joyous Wolf, have been fighting and clawing their way the top of the rock world. Now that they are signed to Roadrunner Records and hitting the festival circuit, the world is starting to take notice. Just as they started with “Holy Driver,” wild frontman Nick Reese started a craze filled dance on stage, while mesmerizing the Vegas crowd with his amazing voice. Backing him up, as always, is the ultra hip guitarist Blake Allard. He swayed the audience with his tasty blues inspired riffs. During the performance of “Sleep Weep Stomp,” Reese actually climbed the 30 foot stage railing of Stage F. He has been known to do this. Though it did scare the shit out of me, it was a defining rock ‘n’ roll moment. Just as he got back down to perform “Mother Rebel,” security cut their set short and escorted them off the grounds, leaving the fans furious. Being in the front to see that, it is living proof that the music world better be prepared for Joyous Wolf.
Full Joyous Wolf slide show below:
Las Vegas hard rockers Adelitas Way was next to hit the stage. This festival was basically a hometown show for the boys. I really dug the simplicity of their hard rock sound, as well as their high energy. Leader/vocalist Rick DeJesus was a high spirited fellow when he sang to the fans of Vegas. He is full of charm and personality, making him an efficient frontman. Drummer Trevor “Tre” Stafford is a cymbal beating creature, while bassist Andrew Cushing kicks the songs into high gear with his beats. Helping Adelitas Way on the guitars was Art of Dying axe man Tavis Stanley, who owned the riffs and looked like he belonged with the band. From “Criticize” to “Bad Reputation” and “Cage the Beast,” this band came for one purpose: rock their asses off! During the song “Ready For War (Pray For Peace),” DeJesus dedicated the tune to the police officers who protect our streets, which was awesome to hear. Ending things with the crowd pleaser “Notorious,” featured off 2017’s Notorious, DeJesus decided to crowd surf and it was glorious to see. All hail Adelitas Way!
Full Adelitas Way slide show below:
When Black Star Riders was first created, they were honoring the works of legendary Irish heavy rockers Thin Lizzy and its late founder Phil Lynott. It has grown into its own and basically continued Thin Lizzy’s journey. Frontman Ricky Warwick spews out rocker glory with tantalizing chops in his voice, along with a charismatic personality matched by Lynott himself. Long time Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham, who helped start it all, showed that age does not slow down his riffing fingers. Partnered with Damon Johnson, they both electrified Stage F. Drummer Chad Szeliga and bassist Robbie Crane gave us fans a 1-2 punch with their rhythmic riffs. Having just released Heavy Fire last year, Black Star Riders have recaptured what Thin Lizzy had, with a slew of hard hitting tunes like “All Hell Breaks Loose,” “Soldierstown,” and “When the Night Comes to In,” including the Thin Lizzy classic “Jailbreak.” After hearing “Bound For Glory,” I felt the touch of Lynott’s spirit. All I can say is Black Star Riders would make him proud.
Full Black Star Riders slide show below:
Heading back to Stage U, out came a familiar band from Los Angeles. Rapcore/nu metal rockers Hollywood Undead have come to Las Vegas. Having first seen them in December with the Butcher Babies, Hollywood Undead wasted no time in restarting the party after Black Star Riders walked off Stage F. Sporting their traditional masquerade masks; they kicked things off with “Whatever It Takes.” Makes sense since they will do whatever it takes to get the fans off their feet. Led by head honcho Dylan “Funny Man” Alvarez, Las Rageous went into party mode with inflatable palm trees and flickers of sparks shooting up from the stage. A cool moment was when a fan was pulled from the crowd and riffed on guitar with Jordon “Charlie Scene” Terrell during “Comin’ in Hot.” Along with “Been to Hell,” “War Child,” “Day of the Dead,” and “Everywhere I Go,” there was not one fan standing around looking dead. They even did one verse each to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Rammstein’s “Du Hast.” With them finishing with “Hear Me Now,” Hollywood Undead was better this time around for me.
Full Hollywood Undead slide show below:
Saxon is one of the few groups from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal days, next to Priest and Maiden, to still be as influential as they were back then. Rampaging up on Stage F, the veteran metalheads came and dominated the night. Vocalist Biff Byford has not lost any edge in his singing, hitting each note with perfection. The guitar duo of Doug Scarratt and Paul Quinn went “bang” with their riffs and solos. Longtime drummer Nigel Glockler can still tear it up with his stellar drum work, with Nibbs Carter ravaging the bass notes. They released their 22nd album, Thunderbolt, and it has been seen by fans as another Saxon classic, playing 4 songs off the record, including “They Played Rock and Roll” and “The Secret of Flight.” They also performed to their iconic tunes like “Denim and Leather,” “Power and the Glory,” and “Motorcycle Man.” They went old with the clincher “Wheels of Steel.” Better than expected, now I can check Saxon off my band bucket list. Though this will not be last time I see them.
Full Saxon slide show below:
The main stage packed in to see the witch goddess Maria Brink and her hellions of In This Moment. Matt and I caught them last Halloween in Riverside, and it was an experience worth having. Second time around was special for us. They started things off with the gory “Blood.” Brink is always mesmerizing with not only her enticing singing, but her elaborate costumes to go along with the themes of each song. They have been riding high since releasing the 2017 critical darling Ritual. Chris Howorth keeps slaying the fans with his hard-hitting guitar licks. During the performance of “Black Wedding,” Ded leader Joe Cotela sang along with Brink in place of Halford. Going along with that song included “Adrenalize,” “Big Bad Wolf,” and “River of Fire,” which is my favorite. As soon as she changed for her song, Brink belted out the first words of “Whore,” and the fans went nuts. In This Moment brought theatrical heavy metal to Las Rageous, killing their set. It is always a great joy to see them.
Full In This Moment slide show below:
After so many years of listening to their records and headbanging to their iconic songs, we final stood in front of the Metal Gods, Judas Priest!!! It was a site for sore eyes. Rob Halford, the Worlds Gay Metal Grandpa, may have aged, but his voice has never lost any of its lust. He can still hit those high notes like no other, as I heard in the opener “Firepower.” Their latest effort, Firepower, is another Priest masterpiece. Ever since Richard Faulkner took over guitar duties for K.K. Downing, he has somehow rejuvenated Priest’s fierce determination to conquer the heavy metal world. He is so awesome with his riffing and pulling out solos out of his fingers. Andy Sneap has taken over for Glenn Tipton because of his continuing battle with Parkinson’s Disease, and he nails each riff. Bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis are a rolling force together.
Judas Priest dove deep into their catalogue and pulled out an array of classics, including “Painkiller,” “Turbo Lover,” “Sinner,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.” To everyone’s surprise, they stepped out of the shadows and performed 3 of their songs from the legendary British Steel album. I remember when they played “Metal Gods,” a fan with a Mohawk started marching in the pits like a robot, a fun sight to watch. I lost my shit when they performed “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight.” All the hail the mighty Priest!
Full Judas Priest slide show below:
I headed back to Stage U for the final performer of the night as well as the festival; Five Finger Death Punch! I have wanted to see them ever since listening to American Capitalist. Ivan Moody marches out, sporting a Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey jersey, and rips it open with “Fake.” After another stint in rehab, he was hitting his strides with vocals. It was great seeing him back in form. Five Finger was an underlying force to be reckoned with, delivering the festival a ferocious prowess. Guitar duo in Jason Hook and Zoltan Bathory kicked some serious ass on the hooks, riffs and stellar solos. Bassist Chris Kael is still a snarling beast with his bass beats, and Jeremy Spencer was a swift banger on the drums. After so many ups and downs, they are determined, more than ever to keep their heavy metal magic alive.
5FDP is on the cusp of releasing their sixth studio album, And Justice for None, and I am super excited to hear what they come up with next. They only performed the Offspring cover that will be featured on the record, “Gone Away,” which Moody felt sentimental in apologizing to the fans for his recent behavior involving alcohol. The most songs were performed off of their 2015 release, Got Your Six, with a good mixture of tunes from their other albums. From “Jekyll and Hyde” to “Lift Me Up,” “Burn MF,” and “The Bleeding,” Moody still be just as vicious even before hitting their the bottle. They did kind of fumble it a bit with the acoustic “I Apologize,” but got it back with “Wrong Side of Heaven.” I tell you what, the best song they performed that evening was my all-time favorite, “Under and Over It.” Fiver Finger Death Punch is back with a vengeance!
Full Five Finger Death Punch slide show below:
Viva Las Rageous baby! Matt and I had the time of our lives. Not only did we finally get to see Judas Priest, we saw the return to form of Five Finger Death Punch. While I enjoyed Day 1, Day 2 was more my style. If I were handing out grades, I would give Day 1 a “B+” and Day 2 an “A,” while giving the entire event a well-deserved “A-.” You can be damn certain that I am coming back next year, and hopefully the groups will be just as bombastic as this year. To Las Rageous, I salute you. Horns up!!!