A foggy, soggy, bottom-heavy set by Vegas’ reefer-saddened Demon Lung nearly brought me down. Thank Lucifer for Castle. The San Francisco occult-metal band—despite a sub drummer and power-trio format—stormed the Bunkhouse. Guitarist Mat Davis’ beat-to-shit Les Paul, powered by an ear-trampling Marshall 100-watt amplifier, erected staggering architectures of sound. His unusual, technical, often angular riffs impressed even the indie-rocker I dragged to the show. Singer/bassist Elizabeth Blackwell whipped her hair from her expressive face like a priestess of hell and intoned ritual incantations of doom. “Corpse Candles” seethed with anger at man’s bloodlusting folly, lyrics flickering with disturbing images of melting bodies. “Slaves of the Pharaoh” was heavy enough to move the pyramids of Egypt. But it was the Led Zeppelin (specifically “Kashmir”)-referencing, Middle Eastern-drone-stomp “Blacklands” that caused the hair on my neck to stand up as Blackwell chanted: Faces of a vast and somber dream/Haunt the past with perfect grief. “This chick scares me,” a guy screamed in my ear. (Obviously he hadn’t spotted Blackwell in librarian mode at Castle’s merch table, coolly reading a tattered paperback of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea before the show.) I was scared, too—in a sublime way. As Davis’ fretboard runs crushed my mind during the sonic jailhouse of “Alcatraz,” I heeded the song’s advice: Take hold of the pain. ★★★★☆
A Peek at Life Is Beautiful 2017
Get to know the Life Is Beautiful acts. Learn about Downtown's new kaleidoscopic murals. Find tips on how to navigate schedule conflicts. And see what's on the mouthwatering menu. Here is Vegas Seven's guide to tasting, seeing and hearing all the festival has to offer, from the first afternoon set to the final headliner.
Best of the City 2017
Our eighth annual celebration of all things Las Vegas, from the best casino comebacks to irresistible pot products