What qualifies a band as local? What if three of five members live in California? Or if it traveled all the way to Seattle to record its latest album? Can it still really be considered a full-fledged Las Vegas band?
Judging from tonight's turnout at the Bunkhouse, absolutely. The Skooners' Friday-night crowd is surely one of the largest the Downtown venue has ever drawn, despite triple-digit temperatures that make venturing inside feel — and smell — like the inside of a locker room.
Although brothers Blair and Ian Dewane, The Skooners' singer and guitarist, respectively, live in San Clemente, California, these days, Vegas remains the band's live hub. The Dewanes return to town roughly once a month, along with keyboardist Adam Yarbro (an LA dweller), to join up with Vegas-based drummer Jake Farmer and bassist Max Supera and play to their "home" crowd.
"We're fortunate to have the bestest of friends every time we come out here," Blair says. "It's like, 'Stay on my couch and I'll treat you like a family member, even though you stink really bad," he adds laughing.
Tonight's show marks the release of The Skooners' second album, Grow a Mustache, Change Your Name — an event two years in the making. Recording began back in 2008, but took a bit longer than intended. "Me and Ian went through a lot of death in our family," Blair explains, "and that really hit us kind of hard. Everything that happened [with our family] and our love lives was very, very bad." So the Dewanes handled it as any good songwriter would: using their struggles as inspiration for the record's 12 tracks.
Grow a Mustache carries forth the Skooners' trademark, upbeat pop, but with less of the garage gravel featured on 2007's Shut Down Shop, and with more polished complexity — projecting them into a class old enough to grow more facial hair. Farmer affirms the musical maturation: "You can tell we grew up on the album — there are violins."
The new songs comprise the bulk of tonight's set, and the crowd hangs out into the wee hours to shake along to every favorite hook-filled tune. When The Skooners are onstage, the energy gets stronger, crazier as the night draws on. "I think everyone that comes to our shows has as much fun as we do," Blair says. "I've rarely been to a Skooners show that wasn't fun." In other words, Vegas votes to keep 'em.