All-ages venue 702 showing promise

The first time he saw the band, it was at the end of Craig Road in 1985 with a generator and a keg of beer.

Notoriously unhinged SoCal skate punks The Vandals couldn’t get a gig anywhere else in the city.

Recently, the band played Vegas again, and Tim Thurtle, owner of new northside music venue 702 Skatepark, felt like he had come full circle.

“It was kind of a dream come true,” says Turtle, who runs 702 with his wife and two sons. “I just turned 50, and I was able to provide them a place to come play where people could appreciate their music. It kind of touched my heart.”

Though the skatepark has been open for about a year, Turtle only recently started hosting shows there after Vegas’ music promotions and booking hub Smash Magazine approached him looking for a place to hold concerts.

With the all-ages scene here being notoriously slapdash and venues coming and going seemingly at random, 702 seems like it has some promise, with additional revenue streams from the skatepark helping to subsidize the music — and vice versa.

“We always thought that music and skateboarding went together,” says Thurtle, who plans to book shows every Thursday through Sunday. “We have a pretty good reputation of giving the kids some place safe to come hang out. With the economic times, we’re trying to think outside of the box a little bit. We said, ‘Hey let’s try it.’ And then all of a sudden, we’re just off and running.”

If teens have a new place to call their own, so do older rock fans with Smokin’ Hot Aces, a rock-centric club at The Palazzo that debuts with a soft-opening on Monday before a big New Year’s Eve kickoff.

A large, 4,500-square-foot room with bright red walls, a sizable, crescent-shaped stage and plush booths, the club hopes to fill the rock ‘n’ roll void on the Strip with DJs that spin only rock and the booking of local and rising national acts.

Currently, only the Hard Rock Cafe really caters to that scene, much farther down the Strip.

With plans to have a standing backline, the club also hopes to lure in some larger bands for unannounced shows when they’re in town.

You always hear stories about jazz greats of the ’60s getting together for off-the-cuff jams here after their headlining gigs.

Perhaps this could be an outlet for their longer-haired counterparts of today.

“We are definitely reaching out to some big name acts that are playing the larger venues on a Friday night to come here and perform, do an impromptu act on Saturday,” says Smokin’ Hot Aces General Manager Marty Helfand. “We’re gonna make it very cool and hip.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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