It was a bit past 1 a.m. on Friday night when everything was encapsulated by a dude whose band was named after an extinct bird.
“We never know what’s coming next,” The Dodos frontman Meric Long sang. “I have no clue.”
That pretty much summed up the four-day music festival that Long’s group was in the process of headlining.
The Dodos were one of the biggest acts that played the always eclectic Neon Reverb this past weekend, performing in the crisp night air behind The Bunkhouse.
Their tunes were equally pretty and biting, voiced with delicacy and determination, skeletal at first, until the band leveled them with swaths of dissonance and amp buzz.
Despite The Dodos’ stellar showing, easily the best thing about Neon Reverb is making new discoveries, and there were plenty this go-round. Friday night at The Bunkhouse, L.A.’s Lemon Sun got the crowd boogying hard and clapping along lustily with their hooks- and reverb-heavy garage rock. They looked like they raided Marc Bolan’s closet with their natty, vintage threads, and sounded like a revved-up ’60s sock hop. By the end of the set, singer Rob Kolar was getting down so heatedly, that his red-feathered hat had fallen off.
They were followed outside by San Jose’s The Mumlers, whose horn-fired indie soul had couples dancing in dizzy circles. Singer Will Sprott’s eyes played hide and seek behind his long bangs while he hopped up and down as if he were traversing some hot coals barefoot. Their keyboardist/tuba player even kept the beat with a tambourine on his foot at one point.
The new outdoor stage was one of the most welcome additions to Neon Reverb. It’s permanent now, so expect more shows in the large Bunkhouse lot. The stage was christened in fine fashion earlier on Friday night by Vegas’ Dusty Sunshine and their pitch perfect four-part harmonies and the occasional song about falling in love with gay fellas.
There were plenty of other highlights: On Thursday at The Bunkhouse, Vegas’ Black Camaro wore their sunglasses at night and played their first gig in ages, testifying with gospel-like fervor with sharp-edged indie funk fattened by robust bass lines and blasts of percussion that ricocheted around the room like the din of an exploded M-80. They were followed by the by-turns dreamy and danceable pop of Portland’s Hosannas.
On Sunday, the festivities continued at the pool at the Royal Resort, where tattooed, pale fleshed rocker types commingled next to wary tourists. The bands had to stop playing at one point, because it was deemed too noisy for a nearby church, who didn’t appreciate the volume.
And that was about the only objection to be had on this weekend.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476.