Las Vegas’ punk bowling and music fest returns

If you find yourself at Sam’s Town this weekend and notice more than a few people with mohawks, piercings and studded leather jackets strolling around the cowboy decor, don’t be surprised.

This weekend is the 13th annual Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival , with the bowling events scheduled for Sam’s Town, 5111 Boulder Highway, and the music events at a number of venues in downtown Las Vegas. Events run from Friday through Sunday.

“The whole experience is pretty wild,” said Mike Janoff, who performs with the local band Guilty by Association. “Anyone who has anything to do with punk rock comes to Vegas for this huge bowling tournament. There’s also something like 50 bands playing this year.”

The event started small and simply with a few musicians getting together for a weekend in Las Vegas to kick back and play with their friends. The event was, and still is, organized by the Stern brothers, members of the band Youth Brigade and founders of the record label BYO, which stands for “Better Youth Organization.”

“Year after year, the Stern brothers come to town and make this an event you want to be a part of,” said Homie Pooser, co-owner of Smash Magazine, which printed the events program and is one of the sponsors, “from the poker tournament to the bowling itself to all of the afterparties they’re doing this year.”

The magazine got involved with the event seven or eight years ago, and Pooser is thrilled to be involved with it.

A portion of Sixth Street adjacent to Fremont Street is set to be shut down for the event. A temporary outdoor concert hall will host dozens of bands for sold-out events.

“I think they sold (3,000) or 4,000 tickets, which will bring a lot of people downtown” said Paul Devitt, owner of the Beauty Bar, 517 Fremont St . “That can only be good for business here.”

The original Beauty Bar was in New York City on the site of an old beauty parlor, and Devitt now owns a chain of 10 Beauty Bars across the country. He describes the Beauty Bar as a cocktail lounge in the guise of a vintage beauty salon.

“The festival ends around 9 or 10 each night, and then there are all the afterparties,” Devitt said. “The bands will be playing out back on our patio. It’s going to be great.”

Tickets still are available for most of the afterparties, which are scheduled at four venues downtown. In addition to the Beauty Bar, events are scheduled at Las Vegas Country Saloon, 425 Fremont St.; Azul Tequila, 111 N. Seventh St.; and The Bunkhouse Saloon, 124 S. 11th St.

Guilty by Association is set to perform with three other bands at the Bunkhouse in a show that starts at 9 p.m. Friday.

“We played there two years ago for Punk Rock Bowling, and it was great,” Janoff said. “They’re all going to be great shows, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

While the music takes over downtown, the bowling is set for Sam’s Town. The bowling alley is free for spectators, and there is a strong likelihood of colorful characters and some good, or at least interesting, bowling.

“The bowling’s fun; it’s a freak show,” Pooser said. “It’s grown men in tutus and whatever else. It’s a good excuse to get out, drink too much and bowl.”

The teams are made up of punk rock musicians and a few lucky members of the public. The bowling teams have been full for quite a while.

“We haven’t been practicing, but we should be,” Janoff said. “Last year, we were doing pretty good in the first half, and we were bowling around 160. We ended up bombing out in the second half and bowling around 80. It was probably too many Bud Lights.”

Janoff isn’t sure how they’ll do this year or whether the band’s recreational drinking will get in the way of its recreational bowling.

“Making the finals and getting into the second day would be great,” Janoff said. “We’ll have a good time. Either way, it’s win-win.”

Bowling is from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

For more information and tickets, visit

Contact Sunrise and Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at or 380-4532.

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