Las Vegas 48 Hours Festival: The Best and Worst of the Debauchery, Bands and Backstage
48 Hours Festival was insane. Picture this: more than 20 heavy-hitting rock bands, VIP pool cabanas in the middle of a Vegas parking lot, and lounges with such names as Debauchery and the Godfather, moonshine, strippers, and massages, all fenced in at the Luxor Festival Grounds in Las Vegas.
After learning that Tempe-based Eyes Set to Kill was playing the festival--and considering we desert-dwellers are only a mere five hours from Sin City--I decided it was a prime excuse to get some great live backstage views, provide a play-by-play for Up On the Sun readers, and, well, go to Vegas.
Dubbed the world's largest rock 'n' roll party weekend "Live from the Strip," the festival was solid, featuring tight sound, a mix of eclectic "pre" and "after" parties, and an energetic crowd always wanting more even though the sun was blazin' and temperatures were still in the mid-90s. Sets were kept fairly simple and classic: no video screens, backdrops were minimal, and Avenged Sevenfold was the only band that used pyro.
[Note: the festival started on Friday night at 11 pm with a pre-party at the House of Blues, featuring the Butcher Babies and Steel Panther. The schedule shown here technically started when we cruised into Vegas at noon Saturday.]
Arrival into Las Vegas. Shots of Sailor Jerrys and Jack Daniels commence.
We make it to the festival's back entrance, after somehow wandering through Excalibur and the Luxor, trying to find the easiest way to get to the fairgrounds. Obviously took some unnecessary turns, but ran into some amusing Jimmy Buffet concert-goers.
Black Tide, although energetic, delivers a somewhat unremarkable set with their old and new songs coming off as flat and generic. I must say it is intriguing that the band was formed when the frontman Gabriel Garcia was just 11-years-old, and signed to Interscope three years later. And the crazy little metal progidies definitely have a solid following with fans ranging from emo pre-teens to middle-aged couples.
Hatebreed causes some of the craziest mosh pits of the weekend hands-down, with no frills or hooks like the other acts. Note to self: Unless constantly checking over shoulder, you will be doomed to spend a set at the bottom of a crowd surfer doggie-pile.
Rap-rock sextet Hollywood Undead take over the main stage, supplying lots of content from their newest album American Tragedy. Perfect for those who miss the glory days of early nu-metal. Not so perfect for anyone who attended for actual rock music.
Sucks for Bullet For My Valentine fans; the band canceled.
Recent Revolver cover boys Five Finger Death Punch offer up their usual intensity and awareness of the crowd's needs, stomping around, pouring water over everything possible and head-banging.
On the song "Never Enough" Ivan asks every singer in the crowd to join in; mosh pits break out with lots of angry boys. Ivan shouts out to turn on the lights because he wants to see his family, and brings up any children with their parents onto the stage that he sees within the first couple rows, calling them sweetheart and announcing, "Give it up for the next generation of heavy fucking metal!"
During one of the last songs, Ivan tells everyone to crowd surf to the front of the stage to shake his hand, resulting in waves of fans surfing up, tumbling over and actually getting to shake Ivan's hand as he ran back and forth along the front of the stage while singing.
They also have a taste for theatrics. Singer Ivan Moody stalks the stage, declaring that they had been asked to cut their set short because of crowd violence. He perches on a speaker and defiantly insists that they will play one more song anyways. From my angle it doesn't seem that the crowd was excessively rowdy, and a quick web search later on reveals an almost identical scene played out at last year's Download Festival.
Discover that cocktail prices are lower than we thought while the food prices were higher. Sip on some drinks in the Godfather VIP Lounge, where massages are given for $2 a minute, strippers dance on two poles in the center with a long catwalk in between, and girls strut around in lingerie. A double Johnny Walker for $12? Yes, please.