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
Gorillaz are coming to Las Vegas for the first time ever. 2016’s Grammy winner for best new artist, Chance the Rapper, will return. English rockers Muse will bring their dizzying live show to the streets of Downtown. And that’s just the top of an eclectic bill that features more than 70 acts, along with comedy, interactive art installations, a group art exhibit featuring the work of Mark Ryden, Tara McPherson and Shepard Fairey and much more. Last year saw more than 137,000 attendees trod the festival footprint. Who’s ready for more?
Best of the City 2016
Our seventh annual celebration of all things Las Vegas, from the best place to fix your speeding ticket to the best Bloody Mary.