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Neon Reverb: Leslie’s Saturday journal

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Jacuzzihidiveplays, before the rain.
Photo: Bill Hughes
Leslie Ventura

Around 11, I hurry over to Beauty Bar and catch the end of Australian duo Wazu's set. When I get there, the bar looks like a deserted island compared with last night's impressive turnout, and only a few people are standing around to see the Yacht-meets-Cold Cave-sounding electro-rock group. A bit of a bummer, assuming that on any other night, Wazu would be extremely well-received by the Downtown crowd.

Outside, local electro-pop group Jacuzzihidive is ready to go. If you leave out the two photographers on assignment, I can count the people in the audience on one hand. “Come closer, I don't bite,” shouts singer Aily Iglesias, trying her best to amp up the few people who’ve actually turned out. Jacuzzihidive has shared the stage with the likes of Klaxons and Sebastian Tellier; fans of Steve Aoki and MSTRKRFT should find their sound hard-to-resist.

I'm starting to think last week’s Labor Day electro blowout has caused everyone to stay in tonight. The group gets through a few songs when it starts to drizzle. Everything seems to be weighing against the Beauty Bar tonight. "It's raining on our parade!" Iglesias shouts as the weather puts an abrupt ending on Jacuzzihidive’s night.

Jacuzzihidive's Aily Iglesias

Jacuzzihidive's Aily Iglesias

Hyena was supposed to play outside, but the San Diego headliners have been moved inside. Strategically this probably works in their favor since everyone, including people just walking around on Fremont, is looking for a place to stay dry. At 12:45, the group is still setting up when drummer Michael Cooper starts to get antsy. "Let's just go man, it's called rock ’n' roll," Cooper says. Singer Bryan Stratman kicks off the set singing an auto-tuned version of "Eleanor Rigby," which turns into the song "Anyone's Guess." The duo has the kind of intensity that locals Afghan Raiders often bring to their performances, with a poppy 3OH!3 feel that could be gimmicky, until you see them play.

Cooper plays the drums with technical precision and lightning speed, while Stratman is busy playing the bass, twisting and turning knobs on his table full of equipment, playing the keys and constantly working his machine-magic. There isn’t a dull moment in the entire set. "I'm getting young right now, sweatin' out all the old," Cooper says.

The crowd is significantly larger than during Jacuzzi's set, and a group of girls at the front of the stage are keeping the party going. With the click approaching 2 a.m., the guys wrap it up, but not before playing an encore for a crowd that’s begging for one more song. It might not have been the dance night Neon Reverb had hoped for, but for those who did show up, Hyena certainly blew away any other expectations.

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