Vegas’ Mike Weller released one of the best-ever local albums just a year ago, his folk-rock group’s eponymous Hungry Cloud. So naturally, Weller isn’t playing anything from it tonight at the Bunkhouse.
It’s a risky move, but an understandable one, given that Weller has been playing his old tunes for a couple years now, first solo in coffee houses and then electric with a full band behind him. He and that band have spent weeks working up the new material in anticipation for tonight’s National Southwestern Electronic Recordings Neon Reverb showcase. Though unfamiliar with what it’s hearing, the crowd listens intently and shows appreciation for the unusual effort. The new tunes feel fuller and rock harder—clearly they weren’t written with a stool and acoustic guitar in mind.
The set’s final number, sung mostly by bassist Jackson Wilcox with Weller joining in for the chorus, is a stone-cold showstopper, starting as a bouncy pop tune before accumulating some seriously noisy power en route to an epic ending. “That’s the direction I want to go in,” Weller says afterwards. Count us in for the ride.