After a long Friday at the day job, I headed out to the airport to catch my flight to Las Vegas, Nevada. The event? The inaugural Sick New World Festival. I always like driving to the airport knowing adventures are ahead and this time was no different. After a couple of flight reschedules I was airborne and really on my way. Landing in Las Vegas and heading into the airport is like no other airport experience. You literally walk into rows of slot machines ready to take your money before you can even get settled in.
From there I made a b-line to the Uber pick up and there were, maybe, a hundred people waiting for rides. I paid for the upgraded ride and moved towards the front of the line. Once I got to the hotel and checked in, I saw people with guitar cases and even more people in Sick New World shirts (I guess they had a popup merch booth that day to beat the rush). I went up to my room and passed out for about 6 hours.
The next morning, I hit up Hash House A Go Go for some much needed fuel. Their farm to table corned beef hash and eggs are almost crave-able. After breakfast, I headed out to the Las Vegas Monorail and wormed past all the strip casinos over to the last stop on the line and followed the droves of people to the Las Vegas Festival grounds. Let me stop here for a minute. Las Vegas is deceiving. What looks like, “right up there” is a hike. Everything is built on such a grand scale that blocks can be a half mile walk. So, once I got to the festival grounds, this place was already packed at 10:30 am. This was a sold out event and the festival grounds hold about 85,000 people! This was just the beginning.
Once inside, I headed to the “Sick Stage” to see the Bay Area‘s own Scowl. Unlike other festivals I have been to, they were scheduled to go on 30 minutes after the doors opened and I thought that was a really good thing. They were a great opener to this event and are hitting the global road soon so check them out if they come through your area.
From there, I bounced over to the “Spiral Stage” just in time for Cold. While not officially on their 20th anniversary tour, this was a welcomed stop and was very well received by the building crowds.
The next band I was back to the “Sick Stage” for Scene Queen. I had very little knowledge about them but I was hooked half way into the first song, This band was a ton of fun and shouldn’t be overlooked. Don’t let all the pink fool you, they rock!
From there I was back at the “Spiral Stage” for Orgy. One of those bands I have listened to for years but never got to see… until now. I will back up for a minute here. I was wondering how they were turning over the stages so quickly and when Orgy was coming on, I saw how. The stages were big turntables so while on band was playing, the others were setting up or breaking down. A really great way of doing it. Orgy really killed it and made this show a great one.
Now for the trek to the main stages to see Soulfly. Now let me tell you, this is a .5 mile (3 km) trek in 90 plus degree (32 degrees C) heat with no clouds in the sky. So, I get over there and Soulfly was just hitting the “Green Stage” and the crowd was into it from the get go. It was well worth the journey.
After Soulfly, it was back to the “Spiral Stage” for London After Midnight. This a consistently good band that I am happy to see over and over. This performance, while hampered by some technical difficulties (it sounded like a bad guitar cord), was still pretty great.
From there, it was back to the “Purple Stage” for Papa Roach. These are hometown boys for me since they are from the next town over from where I live. They were on point and sounded great this set. With this performance, they made Vacaville California proud.
Death Grips is a band I wasn’t familiar with but I figured, what the heck, I will check them out. Despite starting 15 minutes late, they hit the “Purple Stage” hard. It didn’t take long for the sun weary crowd to forget the tardiness and just get back to rocking.
Mr Bungle hit the “Green Stage” next. This group of veteran rockers are back together and sound as strong as ever. This experimental rock band has no shortage of credentials and has talent to spare. What more can be said other than they were amazing.
After getting an uplift of energy from Mr Bungle, I headed Back to the “Spiral Stage” to catch the Melvins. I have been trying catch the Melvins now for a while. While they started out great, half way through the set, that entire side of the festival lost power and their set was cut short. There will be a next time!
Finally,after the power was restored, Filter hit the stage. I have seen them a few times over the years and, from what I remember, they were just as good now as they were then.
Now, with the power issues well in hand I popped over to the “Sick Stage” to catch Spiritbox. What a little firecracker the singer is! Engaging and entertaining, this set was fun to watch AND capture.
As I headed back to the “Spiral Stage”, KMFDM was just coming out and this was one of the bands I was most looking forward to. I have been listening to them since the late 80’s and this live performance was just amazing. Even though it was daylight, the mood still came through. I hope I get to see them sooner than later with a full light show to set the ambiance.
Loathe was a little on the mellow side as they hit the “Sick Stage”. It was much more relaxed than the KMFDM set I just left. I think it was just what the crowd needed, Just a little decompression before the heavy stuff hit. I, for one, needed the slowdown for a bit. Great set.
Again, Skinny Puppy is one of those bands from my formative years that has stuck with me all these years. It’s a shame this is supposed to be their last tour because they sound better than ever live. I think the crowd agreed. I hope they change their mind because we need more live Skinny Puppy!
I have been trying to see She Wants Revenge for a bunch of years. When they announced their break up during the pandemic, I thought that ship had sailed but all of a sudden they were back together and on the stage here. This was most definitely a highlight of the day.
Running back over to the “Spiral Stage”, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult was just getting on. The last time I saw them was in Vegas as well and this was a much nicer venue. Oh, and I could see them this time! The last time the fog machine was running on overtime. This time, audio and visuals were exceptional.
Up next was Ministry. Uncle Al and the guys started off the set with three songs off their latest release Moral Hygiene and one new one off an upcoming release. The last three of the shortened set were classics from 30 plus years ago. The set was short due to technical difficulties.
So, I didn’t really catch Fever 333. All I got was the ending of the last song when Jason Aalon Butler (the singer) climbed to the top of the soundboard structure and did a stage dive into an awaiting crowd. Yes, this was pretty crazy and awesome all at the same time.
After all that excitement, Ho99o9 hit the stage. They killed it with their unique blend of Hip-Hop and punk and I am sure at least one pit erupted during their set.
Health was up next. While they had a great set, I wish it was a little earlier with the more industrial/ electronic bands since it kind of changed the direction of the vibe. Still, a great set and I will be checking them out a lot more as this was my first introduction to them.
Back over to the “Spiral Stage” for Ville Valo. Formerly the lead singer for the group HIM, Ville Vallo drew a huge crowd of loyal fans and I think everyone was pleased with his solo material.
As I wondered back over to the “Sick Stage”, Body Count was getting prepared. Unfortunately, there were several technical delays and once they did start playing, the first song had no vocals or guitar. The second song had intermittent vocals and still no guitar. Finally they third song had vocals and no guitar. At that point, Ice stopped the show and asked the sound guy what the deal was. Eventually they got it worked out so they could move on to song four. Eventually the set was cut short due to time constraints. I can’t wait to see Body Count again under better circumstances soon.
When I got over to the “Spiral Stage”, we received our instructions for Sisters of Mercy. I have been waiting DECADES to see them. I have heard all the rumors floating around and I went in expecting the worse and hoping for the best. Well, we got a really good set! Lots of classics and a tease at some new material. Andrew’s voice was good and strong and everything sounded great. I still have a hard time visually with him having a shaved head vs his long black lochs. I guess I will have to adjust.
Cradle of Filth finished up my night. As they blazed through their dark metal set, the sounds and imagery whipped the fans into a frenzy. As I exited stage left, all you could see was silhouettes of crowd surfers, smoke and the ominous green glow of the stage backed by the hardest band of the night.
In conclusion, the inaugural Sick New World was a success. Sure, there were some tech issues through out the day but, the venue itself is awesome. The staff and security were all stellar and worked well as a team. They made sued the people that needed help, got it and the people that needed water got it as well. You could say the water was flowing like…water. Only once I went to grab a water out of the enormous coolers they had at every stage and it was empty. That is pretty impressive for a 13 hour festival in 90+ degree heat. I would like to personally thank the bands, event staff, security and the Las Vegas police department for always being professional and letting us all have our fun…safely.
All in all, I walked a total of 9.5 miles (15.28 km), drank somewhere around 15 bottles of water, covered 24 great bands, got a wicked sunburn on various parts of my body (yes, I had sunscreen on), got a blister on my foot and my camera only overheated once. As far as the other attendees, I don’t think many people were prepared for the heat that Vegas brings. I saw several people being treated for heat exhaustion. When they tell you to hydrate in Vegas, listen. I also heard that there was a marriage proposal during Hoobastank’s “The Reason”. I really hope they said yes. That being said, I am already looking forward to next year.
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Photographer of about 10 years, I have been shooting concerts for about 8 of those years. I started to get serious about concert photography about 6 or 7 years ago and now try to shoot as many as I can. I shoot mostly rock but, have done some country and big band stuff. I love music and since I am nowhere close to being a musician, this is a way I can be a small part of what, in the words of Henry Rollins, “gets me through the highs, the lows and everything in between”.