SquidHat Records couldn’t have picked a better weekend to throw a showcase. The dreary weather fit the atmosphere, with the Valley’s rare fog mixing with the clouds of smoke always present inside the Double Down Saloon. Punks packed the dive bar until the early morning to mark the Vegas-based label’s first anniversary.
The Friday/Saturday mini-fest featured four SquidHat bands, one to open and close each night: Pet Tigers (a power-punk trio with pop sensibilities); The Gashers (three former Peccadilloes members, still angry, still fast); The Dirty Panties (an empowering but fun all-girl punk quartet) and The Quitters (gutter-punk dudes with snot-nosed songs).
“There’s always been a [punk] scene here, it just needed something to unify it, and we hope that’s what SquidHat can be for Las Vegas,” label head Allan Carter says. “The last piece this city needed was a staple indie label.”
And the showcase was more than just a celebration of the SquidHat family. Spicing up the festivities was a battle of the bands with a serious prize awaiting the winner: a spot on the SquidHat roster. Carter says 40 Vegas hopefuls submitted demos, from which six were selected for the showcase: Guilty by Association, Surrounded by Thieves, Candy Warpop, Civilians, The People’s Whiskey and Hard Pipe Hitters. Fans showed up in droves to support them, creating a frenzied center-stage pit throughout the weekend. Carter spent Sunday polling SquidHat’s bands for their favorites. “I gotta know how they feel, because they’re going to be the ones playing shows and touring with the winner.”
Regardless of the results, one band that stood out was Candy Warpop, which blends speed-punk and experimental rock. When the group performs, its dissonant guitar and bass noise is met, violently, by frontwoman Amy Pate’s growling voice and Anisa Buttar’s drum-kit destruction. An enjoyable sight and sound experience.
And the winning band? On Monday, SquidHat announced that the record deal would go to The People’s Whiskey. The outlaw-country/punk quartet wooed the label with hard-drinking songs about drinking, being drunk and other drink-related activities. Wonder what they might do to celebrate …