It was both a music fan’s dream and a 9-to-5’s nightmare.
Nearly a full week of shows, every night, with sleep a luxury.
Man, this Monday arrived with a thud.
But we’re not complaining.
It was a great run of gigs.
Some favorites from the past few days of shows:
On Tuesday, the Neon Reverb music festival returned to the Bunkhouse, highlighted by a hair flinging set by Ty Segall outdoors.
They began with Segall and his bassist leaning into their amps, conjuring a buzzing feedback drone before knifing through the noise with fat, fuzzed-out Blue Cheer-style riffs.
They tore into it with such willfulness that said bassist broke his string on the first song.
But, hey, it was for a good cause, as Segall’s relentless overdriven rock ’n’ roll demands to be played hard and fast.
Their tunes were equally dense and immediate, abrupt and posited on nonstop forward momentum, with a cinder-block heavy bottom end leaved by scruffed up melodies.
Segall often played from the back of his heels, as if the force of his playing was knocking him backward.
It kind of felt like that in the crowd, as well.
Speaking of which, the audience was raucous by indie rock standards, which just means a bunch of scrawny dudes struggled to handle their Pabst, but it was a fitting complement to the barely controlled chaos inherent in Segall’s tunes.
The following evening at the Beauty Bar, Neon Reverb continued with another night of throwback rock ’n’ roll.
The show marked the debut of Crazy Chief, a Vegas band that consists of members of Pigasus, Goldboot, Dirty Somethings and Mojo Rising, a Doors cover act who their singer Drew Johnson fronts.
Context is everything here: This bunch would have been just at home on one of the Fremont Street Experience stages nearby with other classic rock revivalists where this crowd might have sneered at them, but at the Beauty Bar, they were fairly well received, though if they had performed at Hogs & Heifers up the street, drunken bikers would have ensured that they never paid for a drink all night.
Drummer Dan Conway played so hard that the bass amp head next to him shook with such violence that it seemed in eminent danger of crashing to the stage at any given moment. He was matched in vigor by guitarist Jessie Amoroso, who ripped wild-eyed leads and held his instrument in the air triumphantly, like it was a battle ax, upon occasion.
Johnson sang of easy women and oncoming storms in a bluesy bray, swishing his skinny hips with his toes dangling off the lip of stage, occasionally blowing into a harmonica.
It was nothing new, but like denim and beer, two key components here, familiarity doesn’t diminish their appeal.
Tee Pee Records has probably offered them a deal already.
They were followed by Nashville’s Natural Child, a feisty power trio who came with hard-grooving, stop-start jams buoyed by two-part harmonies. They sang of getting high and dealing with overbearing parents as tipsy girls in the crowd danced and played air guitar.
On Thursday, it was time for a break from Neon Reverb to catch top hat-clad Swedes The Hives at the Cosmo pool.
“That’s me on the television screen,” frontman Pelle Almqvist beamed upon taking the stage, gazing at the massive video screen towering above him.
Almqvist loves him some Almqvist: He’s a ham of the highest order, his between song banter landing somewhere between the over-the-top bluster of a game show host and the slippery-tongued people skills of a used-car salesman.
“We have come here to prove a simple fact,” Almqvist announced at the beginning of the show. “There are a lot of magicians in town, but very few wizards. You are looking at five grand wizards." (Apparently they don’t have the KKK in Sweden. Good for them).
From there, it was a barrage of garage rock tight as a clenched fist.
The songs came in quick, breathless bursts, with the martial, anti-materialism stomp of “Take Back the Toys,” a furious “These Spectacles Reveal the Nostalgics” and the heart attack blitz of “Die, All Right!” giving way to funkier, R&B influenced numbers like “Wait a Minute” and “Go Right Ahead.”
“This is your national anthem,” Almqvist announced before “Hate to Say I Told You So,” never one for understatement or standing still, busting out leg kicks and splits and upending stage monitors so that he could stand on them like a proud billy goat.
Throughout the show, he looked like a kid who had just gotten exactly what he wanted for Christmas. “It’s a veritable brain trust of Las Vegas,” he beamed at one point, looking out at the crowd. “The smartest people in Vegas, all in one spot,” he marveled, giving those in attendance ample credit for not missing a chance to witness his glory.
Back at the Bunkhouse on Sunday, Neon Reverb wrapped with a winkingly campy set by Hunx and his Punx that was all dry ice and wet everything else.
Frontman Seth Bogart’s shirt was off by the fourth song and his pants long before that — at least temporarily.
“Are any neighbors horny?” he wondered, glancing at the houses behind the outdoor stage.
If not, he seemed determined to change that.
“Let me see some wieners,” he commanded as a way of introducing his crude, hooky and crudely hooky bubble gum rock equally indebted to doo-wop, ’60s girl groups, John Waters and an overactive libido.
It was some seriously debauched fun — and that was the only thing serious about it.
Neon Reverb, The Hives lead busy week in rock
It was both a music fan’s dream and a 9-to-5’s nightmare.
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