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Further Reverberations

Downtown-based music fest looks to expand its sphere of influence

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Ryan Pardey, going to Town.
Photo: Corlene Byrd

The fall version of Neon Reverb was designed to be far smaller than its spring counterpart, so it comes as a significant surprise to see more than 100 acts listed on the flier for this weekend’s festival. Ah, but appearances can be deceiving. Look closer, and you’ll notice that a significant number of showcases—at venues like the Double Down Saloon, Boomers and Texas Station’s South Padre—were conceived and booked independently, and absorbed into the festival after the fact.

Why? Chalk it up to organizer James Woodbridge’s vision of Neon Reverb as a true citywide music event. “We’ve definitely expanded beyond the Downtown borders,” he explains. “It’s about increasing access, by incorporating more venues. And there’s also an increase in the sense of community and participation, by involving more people and more bands. When it’s a bigger event with more going on, it becomes an attractor of sorts. So it adds, not necessarily in terms of money—Neon Reverb has never really been about money coming in anyway—but in terms of the festival atmosphere.”

Calendar

Neon Reverb
Browse the complete Neon Reverb concert schedule
Sept. 17-19, various times and venues
All-festival pass, $40; 9/17 pass, $12; 9/18 pass, $15; 9/19 pass, $15.
For more info visit NeonReverb.com
Related Stories
What to see at Neon Reverb? (9/17/09)
Nobunny loves (and scares) us (9/14/09)
From the Archives
Wrapping up Neon Reverb (3/19/09)
Reverb's return (12/31/08)
Downtown-apalooza (9/4/08)
Under the neon a new festival makes its mark (9/14/08)
Bands You Might Hear
The Clydesdale
Afghan Raiders
A Crowd of Small Adventures
Lazystars

Woodbridge and his supporting cast of scene characters (including co-organizer Thirry Harlin; Clydesdale bassist Jason Aragon, the fest’s de facto accountant; and new-to-the-fest Roxie Amoroso, the longtime Vegas booker) are hoping folks who see, say, The Mapes at Boomers on Thursday night or The Vermin at South Padre on Friday will be exposed to Neon Reverb by way of chatter and signage, and hop aboard for more. “Maybe they’ll come Downtown or go out on another night when they weren’t planning to,” Woodbridge says. And besides, “We wanted to do harder-rock shows and punk shows, and we didn’t really have the locations to do that before,” he adds. “It’s music people like, so it should be part of the festival.”

Still, the core Neon Reverb experience will still transpire Downtown during this third installment; a van will even be on hand to shuttle attendees among the primary venues (pick-up details are available at neonreverb.com). East Fremont hubs Beauty Bar and the Bunkhouse will host music Thursday through Saturday, as will the Aruba Hotel, a few blocks up Las Vegas Boulevard, with such out-of-towners as The Warlocks, Themselves, The Morning After Girls and The Most Serene Republic, and local mainstays like Afghan Raiders, The Clydesdale, A Crowd of Small Adventures, Halloween Town and The Lazystars filling out four- and five-band bills at those venues throughout the three nights.

Yes, three nights. In one significant departure, Neon Reverb will go silent on Sunday … mostly. The only event planned is a pool party, 2-7 p.m. at the Aruba, backdropped by the Bargain DJ Collective—quite a contrast to the late-late-night activities of past weekend-enders. “We figured everybody’s tired by Sunday,” Woodbridge says. “Why not hang out by the pool, relax, recover and go home to get some sleep?”

So, will Neon Reverb’s “lighter” schedule improve its chances for financial success? (March’s incarnation lost some $5,000.) Well, the search for sponsorship continues amid Southern Nevada’s grim economic conditions. Local bands are doing their part to help, many offering to play for free to divert money to visiting acts. And the scene continues to rally in support of the festival in unprecedented ways (one example: The Las Vegas Jam Band Society is donating sound equipment and personnel Friday and Saturday at the Aruba after its show there on Thursday).

Ultimately, regardless of how this weekend’s Neon Reverb looks on the books, it will return for a fourth go-round in March, Woodbridge assures. “That’s already in the works,” he says. “I think between March and now we’ve kind of held steady. In March we would like to go big—well, bigger, anyway.”

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is Las Vegas Weekly's Managing Editor, having previously served as Arts & Entertainment Editor, Music Editor and a ...

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