Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats bring a heavy-rock rainbow back to Psycho Las Vegas

Starrs, far left, and Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Photo: Ester Segarra / Courtesy
Annie Zaleski

When bands start touring, they usually work their way from small clubs to bigger venues. But when U.K. hard rockers Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats began touring in earnest, their first real road trek involved opening multiple European arena dates on Black Sabbath’s 2013 reunion tour.

“For them to take us out on a tour like that was huge for us,” frontman Kevin Starrs tells the Weekly. “Obviously we were terrified, because it’s Sabbath. Seeing Tony Iommi—he’s a pretty intimidating character on the face of it. But once you get to know these people, they’re all really nice guys. It was a great way for us to connect to a new audience.”

For Starrs, who founded Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats in 2009, opening for Sabbath was something of a dream come true. Although he grew up a fan of The Beatles, Alice Cooper and Van Halen, hearing Black Sabbath “changed a lot of things for me” and introduced him to the possibilities within metal music. “Once I got into Sabbath, it was like a whole new world.”

Unsurprisingly, Starrs has taken inspiration from Sabbath when crafting Uncle Acid’s music. “Ozzy’s vocal melodies are really underappreciated,” he says. “And obviously he’s massively influenced by The Beatles as well. I recognized that as soon as I heard Sabbath. I thought, there’s more to them than just being a heavy metal band. They’ve got this other part to them as well.”

One could say the same about Uncle Acid. The band’s most recent album, 2018’s sprawling Wasteland, incorporates the entire continuum of heavy music influences—thrash metal, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, ’70s hard rock, Van Halen-style riff-jumping and piledriving prog.

Despite that diversity, Starrs says misconceptions continue to follow his band around. “We get this whole stoner-rock, stoner-doom thing, which I find quite hard to relate to,” he says. “To me, we’re just a hard rock band. We’ve got melody; we’ve got guitar solos, riffs. We don’t sing about getting high or driving across deserts. There’s more to it than just stoner stuff.”

Such eclecticism makes Uncle Acid a natural for the equally diverse Psycho Las Vegas. Starrs says he’s looking forward to catching The Original Misfits and proggy Portland’s Danava (“I think they’re the best hard rock band in America”), although it might be hard to top Uncle Acid’s appearance at 2016’s inaugural Psycho Las Vegas. In a neat twist, that gig also involved a memorable encounter with a musical idol who lived up to expectations.

“Buck Dharma from Blue Öyster Cult came into our dressing room, just as they were leaving, and said, ‘Here, you boys can have this bottle of whiskey.’” So did they drink the whiskey, or keep the bottle? “We drank it pretty quickly,” Starrs laughs.

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS Sunday, 5:30 p.m., Events Center.

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