Music fest hits plenty of high notes

F our days, more than a hundred bands, and ears are still buzzin’ like a cheap TV. Neon Reverb 5 has come and gone. Here were some of the highlights:

■ San Diego duo-turned-five-piece the Crocodiles frying synapses at the Aruba Showroom on Friday night. “It sounds like World War II up here,” their frontman complained of the sound at one point, but it sounded like World War III out in the crowd as the band unleashed a by turns mesmeric and nerve-rattling, intensely overdriven guitar drone as enough dry ice filled the room to replicate a smoke-choked battlefield. One chick bolted the room with her fingers pressed into her ears. No time to play it safe, lady. The Crocodiles didn’t.

■ Vegas indie popsters A Crowd of Small Adventures releasing their new record “A Decade In X-Rays” with a sticky good outdoors show at the Beauty Bar on a hot Sunday night. Their songs often start small but end big, with tunes like “Bang Bang” and “Bone City” cresting into arm-in-the-air singalongs that had the crowd clapping along by set’s end and the Beauty Bar merch girl out of her booth, dancing in circles.

■ Watching Cameron, the drummer for Vegas’ Jacuzzi Hi-Dive, get his Alex Van Halen on at the Beauty Bar on Saturday night. The dude was peppering the group’s bright, keyboard-driven funk with some seriously gnarly fills toward the conclusion of the band’s set. “This next song is for everyone who thinks they’re too cool to dance,” singer/keyboardist Ally announced at one point, getting the crowd primed for the full-on dance party that would follow, with Pan De Sal coming with some of the most body-rockin’ tunes ever about oil dependency.

■ Vegas punk lifers the Vermin turning their equally funny and fierce set on Saturday night at the Las Vegas Country Saloon into a roast of missing-in-action U.K. punks The Adicts, who bailed on their headlining gig at the venue that night. With bassist Rob Ruckus donning the Adicts’ signature “Clockwork Orange” get-up, the Vermin went after the AWOL Brits like they had just caught ’em hitting on their girlfriends or somethin’. “You don’t (expletive) with Las Vegas you limey bastards,” Ruckus announced at one point as a drunken fella in a wheelchair kept slamming himself onto the floor in front of the stage, where he took almost as much punishment as the Adicts were gettin’.

■ The Neon Reverb organizers weathering band cancellations, late start times, last-minute venue renovations unbeknownst to them and clubs demanding large guest lists, taking away paying customers, all to turn in another worthy event. Their hurdles were bigger than ever this go-round, but so was Neon Reverb.

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

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