Fire Fest bringing death to town

It was a day that lived up to its name, one as combustible as kerosene.

Last June, the Fire Fest debuted in Las Vegas with lots of sore throats and damp flesh, a thunderbolt of death metal and hard-core that tossed a lit match into this city’s gas tank.

A daylong, all-ages event, the fest was a grass-roots, D.I.Y. affair that dug deep into the extreme music underground to excavate those battle-hardened bands with the most grit beneath their fingernails.

It was a communal, cathartic scrum that ranked among the year’s best shows.

It was easily the sweatiest.

Back for another installment, the Fire Fest has expanded to two days this year, taking place Thursday and Monday at the Fort Cheyenne Events Center (the show dates have been spread apart to get a better deal on the renting of the venue).

The lineup has gotten a big boost from last year’s promising start, with the Thursday show featuring German death metal savants Necrophagist, teched-out Polish brutes Decapitated, progressive Colorado grind misfits Cephalic Carnage and others.

On Monday, the show is headlined by eccentric battering ram Horse The Band, along with xBishopx, Belay My Last and 20 other acts.

“We have everything from Christian bands to death metal bands,” says Fire Fest promoter Quinn Bott, a scene fixture who got his start in local music circles running sound at venues like the Rock N Java and the Leatherneck Club. “It’s an ironic mix that really makes things fun. It’s positive, music for the sake of music, having a good time and keeping the scene alive.”

To that end, Fire Fest has spotlighted Vegas bands heavily, and this year, the fest boasts such local heavy-hitters as Misericordiam, Guttural Secrete, a reunited Beatrix Kiddo, She Turned Us Into Trees! and Hollis Hurst, to name a few.

“The fest is awesome for our town, especially because there are a lot of bands playing that everyone wants to see but rarely come out here,” says Misericordiam guitarist Kody. “It’s also rad to get everyone hanging out in one place from all different genres.”

Spread out over two stages, the music comes on nonstop, like sortie fire, seldom offering anyone much of a pause to catch his breath — the bands do their best to knock it out of you anyways.

There are a few embellishments from last year — a Guitar Hero competition, some skateboarding demonstrations and a bar for those 21 and older — but the main draws are the organic feel of the show and the sense of ownership the crowd has of an event like this, which makes Fire Fest just as distinct as its wild-eyed lineup.

“Las Vegas is a tertiary market, it’s always the last place on everybody’s list,” Bott says of the difficulty of luring harder-edged, nonmainstream bands to town for shows. “Warped Tour skips us over, Ozzfest skips us over. This is meant to make up for that, in my own little way.”

Jason Bracelin’s “Sounding Off” column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 383-0476 or e-mail him at jbracelin@

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