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JUNKMAN Recaps The 2018 LAS RAGEOUS Festival

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Monday, May 14, 2018 @ 11:26 AM

At The Las Vegas Downtown Events Center 4/20-4/21

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All Photos By Junkman

Recently, I attended the Las Rageous festival in downtown Las Vegas. It featured two days of music from some of most exciting bands on the circuit. Conveniently located at the “Downtown Events Center” a huge space on the former site of the old Clark County Courthouse, just a block away from the famous Freemont Street Experience, it was attended by over 20,000 music fans.

Day One was an eclectic one. Early aggressive sets from OTHERWISE and NEW YEARS DAY on the “U” stage got the crowd going, and the always popular POP EVIL, despite having some early sound issues, brought the intimate “F” stage to a fever pitch. Equally impressive was Tampa Florida’s UNDEROATH, featuring the exciting singer Adrian Patrick, whose energy and aggression were capped off by an onstage visit from his young son during the bands final number “Won’t Stop”.

On the “U” stage, the always funky CLUTCH delivered a great set. In spite of a few technical difficulties, the band soldiered on, with singer Neil Fallon the center of activity. Guitarist Tim Sult, rarely lifted his head the entire set, instead staring intently at his guitar neck. The band debuted a new song “Gimme The Keys”, which went over well with the audience. The band continued to keep the crowd dancing their funky dance moves throughout the twelve song set, finishing up with the 1-2 punch of “Electric Worry” and “One Eye Dollar”.

As a substitute for GHOST, who had cancelled their appearance at the festival months earlier, the immensely popular A DAY TO REMEMBER gave their fans an angst-ridden, punk-pop set of singalongs and energetic stage antics, on the “F” stage. Singer Jeremy McKinnon has had a very special attachment to his audience for years, and their fans hung on to and enjoyed every note. Again, some sound issues and a broken guitar briefly flawed what seemed like an endless set of 13 songs. Highlights included “Paranoia” and the set closing hit “The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle” which was the first song I remember hearing from them, way back when.

Day One “U Stage” closers A PERFECT CIRCLE gave a very subdued, introspective performance. Sometimes quiet, at times frantic. In other words, everything you would expect from them. Focusing on their first release in 14 years, Eat the Elephant, they did what they came to do. A 75 minute, 15 song set with plenty of low lit, fog-enhanced stage lighting, that gave the photographers in the pit fits. But, that is status quo for APC singer Maynard James Keenan and company.

While the new songs like the title track and “The Contrarian” kept their fans interested, the biggest reactions, naturally, were when they dove into their back catalogue for APC favorites like “3 Libras” and “Counting Bodies Like Sheep To the Rhythm of the War Drums”, always popular amongst the “goth” set that make up a large part of their fan base. An interesting cover of DEPECHE MODE’s “People Are People” featured guitarist/keyboardist Greg Edwards, who was filling in for band member James Iha who is rehearsing for the re-united SMASHING PUMPKINS tour. The band finished their set with yet another new one entitled “Feathers” and the weary crowd drifted back into the bowels of the always freaky Fremont Street and beyond.

Day Two of the festival gave me much more time to check out the surroundings. Picture a huge empty space in the middle of an urban area, where a large building once stood. At one end was a large stage, this being the “U” stage. On the perimeter were various food and merchandise booths, topped with tented cabanas which served as a VIP area. Outside the “U’ stage area was a blocked off side street. At one end, was the general entrance, which then led to an array of food trucks and booths, with plenty of tables and chairs and a huge TV screen to relax and watch all the action on both stages which was broadcast directly in high-def. At the other end of the street was the “F” stage. I really enjoyed this setup as it was easy to navigate as well as relax and not miss any of the performances onstage. The setup was obviously very well planned. Kudo’s to the festival organizers.

As for the music, I got there just in time to see Orange County, California rockers JOYOUS WOLF get thrown out of the festival by security. Apparently a few songs into their set, singer Nick Reese decided to climb to the top of the “F Stage” scaffolding mid-song, and power was abruptly cut by the “powers that be”. The band was then immediately escorted off the premises. Safety rules are huge in “Sin City” and you don’t want to push the barriers of safety when it comes to an event as large and well populated as this. It’s too bad, because I really like what JOYOUS WOLF brings to their live performances.

Hometown LV favorites ADELITAS WAY then put on a typically great set following the debacle, and their friends, family, and fans were out in full force to cheer them on. I have seen them many times, on stages large and small, and I am always impressed by their material and performance. BLACK STAR RIDERS, featuring former members of THIN LIZZY, RATT, and ALICE COOPER followed, and rocked a brief set that gave the locals a taste of both past and present. Singer Ricky Warwick and guitarist Scott Gorham were members of the legendary THIN LIZZY, and their classic “Jailbreak” was the second song of the set. I have always been a fan of lead guitarist Damon Johnson, and his screaming guitar was a highlight throughout. Bassist Robbie Crane held down the low end as the band soldiered on with BSR songs like “Soldierstown” and the set closing “Bound For Glory”. They are a great band. I am looking forward to seeing them again.

HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD did their patented hip-hop rock set to the mostly “millennial” part of the audience. I know this because I took a break for a while to relax and have some food and drink, and I saw more of the older population of today’s crowd doing the same thing. HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD always brings it, and their fans loved what they do. For me and many others though, it was the legendary British rockers SAXON who kicked that party into gear on the “F Stage”.

Opening with a roar, the title track of their latest release “Thunderbolt” brought the decibel rate to a new high. SAXON has not slowed down a bit. Still full of “Power and Glory” after all these years, they just flat out kicked ass and took names. Front man Biff Byford is as animated as ever and is having the time of his life as SAXON rocked their adoring fans with a ten song set full of their patented battering ram of British metal. The sing-along “Denim and Leather” indeed DID “put us all together” and they wrapped up their set with the classic title track of 1980’s Wheels of Steel.

IN THIS MOMENT was up next and their theatrical show is always fun to see. The theatrical setting, singer Maria Brink’s choreographed moves with her background singers, and lots of costume changes, made this a true Vegas show indeed. ITM have been on the road a long time, and the live show keeps getting better every time I see them. A highlight is always “Black Wedding” and although JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford (who sings on the record, and occasionally performs the song as a duet with Brink) was in the house, it was performed admirably from DED singer Joe Cotela, and the crowd went wild! ITM concluded their 7 song set with “Whore” and Maria Brink once again donned her dunce cap and addressed the crowd with wit and wisdom.

For many of us in the audience, the fact that the legendary JUDAS PRIEST were headlining the smaller “F Stage” was puzzling, but it turned out to be great. Getting up close with the “Metal God” and company is something I will not soon forget. Even more so than SAXON before them, being this close to greatness was a thrill. Opening with the title track of their newest release Firepower it was non-stop classic British metal from start to finish. Singer Rob Halford, looking resplendent in a silver leather coat was in great form throughout, hitting his signature screams on songs like “Bloodstone” and “Freewheel Burning” and riding a motorcycle onstage during “Hell Bent For Leather”. Guitarists Ritchie Faulkner and newcomer, producer Andy Sneap, fit right in to the classic look and sound of these future Rock N Roll Hall of Famers, as they drove the decibel level to new heights.

The real treat happened at the end of their brief one hour set. Out came long-time PRIEST guitarist Glenn Tipton, who had stepped away from the touring band for health reasons, rejoining them onstage for a trio of JP classics, “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law” and the set closing “Living After Midnight” that had the crowd at a fever pitch and melancholy both at the same time. It was great to see Tipton join his old mates and have the band sounding so great, as well as be so close. Halford thanked the crowd for “keeping the metal alive” and alive it certainly is.

After an onstage visit and thank you from Downtown Events Center and D Hotel owner Derek Stevens, it was time for show closers, Las Vegas' own FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH to rock the “U” stage. And that they did, in their own special way. Hugely popular with their audience and very loyal to the blue collar and military crowd, FFDP gave their fans a set of a tunes that spanned their career. Not much has changed the last few times that I have seen them. The stage props, and lighting seem to get bigger, and this time though, there was a new album And Justice For None to plug. Opening with that record's lead track “Fake”, it was off to the races after that.

Singer Ivan Moody leads the charge. Sporting the jersey of the Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team (who were in attendance in the VIP tents) which has taken the town and the National Hockey League by storm, Moody hemmed and hawed and mugged for the crowd throughout the set, making faces and playfully pretending to be angry during songs like “Jeckyll and Hyde” and “Wash It All Away”. Guitarist Zolton Bathory is just the opposite. He has a huge smile on his face all show as he blazes up and doen the fretboard of his guitar. Bassist Chris Kael always poses for the photographers, by playing with his signature beard, and giving them “The finger”. This band sure knows how to entertain, I’ll give them that.

Moody is known for his rants, and tonight there were plenty. He always speaks about the band's loyalty to the military as well as their families. Tonight he even addressed his success and failures with sobriety. Again, he is always entertaining. As far as their music, let’s just say that their fans love them. They also played a few interesting cover songs as well. “Bad Company”, the song by the band of the same name, has been a staple in FFDP shows for years, and is always dedicated to members of the military. They also did a cover of THE OFFSPRING song “Gone Away” and adopted their own style, featuring lead guitarist Jason Hook. After encoring with “The Bleeding” they closed the show with a brief version of THE ANIMALS' “House Of The Rising Sun” and just like that, the Las Rageous festival was complete.

Again, I salute the festivals organizers for a well done, comfortable and convenient event. The way it was set up, the food, drink and comfort zones were in plentiful supply. The security was great, and the staging, and of course the bands were top notch. I would also like to thank those that invited me to attend. I hope to come back next year. For more information visit www.lasrageous.com. Viva Las Rageous!

Check out some more photos of the festival right HERE

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