At this point I've seen Crowd of Small Adventures drummer/Hungry Cloud frontman Mike Weller live far too many times to remain objective, so let's just say his packed solo performance at the Beat coffeehouse was as excellent as always. Various bandmates and friends in attendance chuckled when barista Heather seized momentary downtime between acoustic cuts from last year's full-length to raise a latte-based ruckus in the kitchen, apologizing, "You'll have to give me a minute for frothing!" "That's okay," Weller assured, raising his glass. "You'll have to give me a minute for drinking!"
Later, at the Las Vegas Country Saloon, recent "FUCK The Adict$ and their rockstar bullshit!" posts on The Vermin bassist Rob Ruckus' Facebook profile began making sense. As Double Down Saloon and Frankie's Tiki Room owner P Moss gossiped, a few days ago the Clockwork Orange-loving UK sextet pulled out of the festival when demands for hotel accommodation were refused. Thus instead of the promised 9:30 p.m. The Lesser You/10:15 p.m. The Vermin/11 p.m. Glass Heroes/12:30 a.m. The Adicts lineup, the evening instead consisted of Rikk Agnew (of the Adolescents)/The Lesser You/The Vermin/Three Rounds ... and Ruckus, in true middle-finger fashion, spent the evening venting his spleen in faux-Adicts facepaint.
"You're just in time; the most amazing band just went on!" the girl working the door at the Aruba Showroom cooed as I arrived at 11:45. Though questionable sound rendered Fortunate Youth lead vocalist Dan Kelly damn near indecipherable, the Los Angeles reggae septet kept a cross-cultural, multi-generational throng of 50-plus writhing feverishly in the roving spotlights with a seamless, no-breather set. In fact, fresh air was literally hard to come by, as there was no AC, only one of three overhead fans spun lazily and, despite posted signage, a thick fog of cigarette smoke permeated the room.
Unfortunately, what I'd anticipated to be an even bigger turnout for San Jose's The Holdup near-instantaneously evaporated to a dozen at most. Though the departed missed out on an inventive blend of rock, dub, reggae and hip-hop, they also avoided vocalist Mike Garmany's ho-hum chatter about alternately being drunk, wasted and/or fucked up. On the upside, at least it wasn't so hot anymore.
Finally, over at the second of two hop-hop nights at lone Eastside venue Boomers, I arrived at 1:30 to find Vegas booker/mover/shaker HighDro ("That white guy with the long hair and deep rhymes hard on his grind!" — Twitter) basking in the glory of a job well done, and Afro Classics (Living Legends' Scarub + Very from US Pros) finishing up their set to an enthusiastic audience of about 40 with Classic Rock opener "Rap Fanatic" and a whack/vogue breakdown before a synchronized collapse onto a sofa.
"It's time for the main event!" HighDro announced at 2 a.m. "It's Tyson versus Holyfield! Let's do this!" Headliner Rakaa (Dilated Peoples) promptly took the stage, which meant that, let's see, the posted schedule listed him at 1:40, so ... it seemed to be the only show in all of Neon Reverb-dom almost running on time. Even better, the back room's grungy, stained linoleum tiles in place just three weeks ago had been removed and the walls covered with a fresh coat of dark beige. I could actually smell the newness of the remodel, possibly an indirect result of HighDro's popular Hip-Hop Roots Tuesday nights. And when Rakaa encouraged, "Support the local scene! Cats really be spittin' out here in Las Vegas, man!" it wasn't at all difficult to believe him.