Upon learning Swedish rock band Ghost dropped off the bill (replaced by Florida metalcore outfit A Day to Remember), disappointed fans bitched for a moment—only a moment—before being swept away in a live-music maelstrom. This was Las Rageous’ second year, and the multitude of tattooed, vaping folks at Downtown Las Vegas Events Center was hellbent on having a memorable experience.
The festival’s first day caught fire with a sunset set from local alt-metal band Otherwise, known for radio smash and military-vet tribute “Soldiers.” Emo-metal outfits Pop Evil and Underoath impressed their sizable crowds, but the evening’s surprise came in the form of Anaheim rockers New Year’s Day, led by singer Ash Costello—they commanded the main stage like born headliners. Indeed, it seemed hardly anyone in the crowd had heard of the band, but the response was hugely positive. Maryland’s Clutch absolutely smoked the competition, though, with blustering, ballsy, propulsive stoner-metal/blues-rock, especially on songs like “X-Ray Visions” and “Sucker for a Witch.” The night’s biggest draw was A Perfect Circle, performing tracks from new disc Eat the Elephant (“The Doomed,” “The Contrarian”) and pushing the atmosphere in an introspective direction.
The second day was a treat for old-school metalheads: Saxon released a scorching set of ’80s Brit-metal, after which the legendary Judas Priest took the stage to unload tracks off new album Firepower. Amazing as these aging bands are, the lion’s share of attention went to roaring Los Angeles act In This Moment. Singer Maria Brink electrified the audience with her goth-metal voice and with a set that leaned heavily on last year’s Ritual record. After that, groove-metal merchants Five Finger Death Punch delivered a coup de grace, detonating the thousands of Las Rageous-goers with songs (like a cover of Offspring’s “Gone Away”) that, even if they don’t thrill you are popular among today’s rockers. An incredible two-day event overall, but here’s hoping next year’s Las Rageous draws some European bands.
Photos by Tom Donoghue