Neon Reverb report: Spotify tour bus showcase
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 (3:50 p.m.)
Photo: Molly O'Donnell
More Neon Reverb
- Five thoughts on Neon Reverb’s fall 2012 edition
- Wrapping it up with Hunx and the Clams
- Moonface and A Crowd of Small Adventures
- The Big Friendly Corporation
- Late-night with JJAMZ and Dry River Yacht Club
- Locals night at the Bunkhouse
- Crazy Chief's live debut
- Hip Hop Roots
- Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees kick it off
- Q&A: Moonface's Spencer Krug
- Q&A: Ty Segall
- 10 acts to catch
Friday’s Spotify tour bus Neon Reverb showcase transformed the Bunkhouse into an oasis of down-home indie rock. Local and national acts kept the laid-back crowd contented all night, while the lime-green Spotify bus passed out swag and freshly minted photo-booth pics. In the corner, a small voter registration table was actually doing business, compelling local musician Megan Wingerter, among others, to sign up. Great recruiting technique: live music and beer.
The Clydesdale kicked off the night with their rockabilly chic outfits and attitudes. Paige Overton donned red flowers in her shiny coif as the growing crowd expectantly edged forward. Unfortunately, the band got off to a rocky start: a sound problem and some kind of miscommunication about what they were playing. By their third song, though, they were all as cool as bassist Jason Aragon had been all along. Bassists never worry. By the time they played wicked country epic “Dale Torro,” the room was wrapped around their littlest finger.
One of the noticeable improvements of this Neon Reverb over every other show that has ever happened in Las Vegas outside of a casino: They pretty much stuck to the schedule, meaning three minutes after The Clydesdale finished, Zach Ryan and the Renegades were tuning up their harmonica outside. I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you their blues sound is only reinforced by the fact that the keyboardist dresses just like John Popper, hat and all. The titular Ryan, however, reminds one of a young Neil Young, long hair, harmonica and all. Appearances aren’t deceiving, with one crowd member commenting that they “sound like the lovechild of Young and Petty.” In other words, they’re pretty awesome. Mid-set Ryan commented, “This is desert rock.” Sadly, not for long; this merry band of folk stars is hitting the road for Nashville soon. Toward the end of their set they covered Chuck Berry’s “C’est la vie,” the second time, and band, of the night that had me thinking of Pulp Fiction.
Back inside Coastwest Unrest drew a full house. Apparently the band had been practicing, hardcore, for months in preparation for a spat of shows and a new album. It paid off. They caught my eye in the spring at Blackbird Studios when they had a full cello, in place of an electric one, and a crowd pressed right up against their face. Quite a show, and this one topped even that, with musical stylings reminiscent of a more soulful Modest Mouse. Coastwest is the kind of band that makes you think you’ve stumbled onto some New Orleans back alley. In other words, they’re a gem. They played a lot of new stuff and a tune with ominous lyrics, “Lonesome Tale of Bacchus Lee.”
Afterward, Those Darlins started a long set on the outside stage as Coastwest closed shop. Despite their name, the Darlins are probably the least countrified of all the night’s bands. They do, however, make the kind of music I’d want to hear if I was in a drug fugue—luscious and rough around the edges.
With such a rich lineup, it’s hard to say one act stole the show. But if you put a gun to my head, She Keeps Bees would probably spill out. All the way from New York, Bees didn’t fill me with anticipation. Their setup looked über-simple: a single singer/guitarist and a drummer. Then they played. Jessica Larrabee has a set of pipes and an attitude that make me forget Polly Jean Harvey ever dominated my tape deck. Blues-rock doesn’t cover it. They’re magic, making awe-inspiring music with, at one point, the drums and a tambourine and nothing else. And if that weren’t enough, Larrabee has her banter down to a science, regaling the crowd with a story of how the drums were saved from a fire at her Dad’s house recently. Then heading directly into one “Counter Charm” off their latest 7-inch. This is a band to watch, the rare Brooklyn band that’s so cool ’cause they don’t know it.
She Keeps Bees was a tough act to follow, but local band Rusty Maples was up to the challenge and had their fans in tow to help them along. Also featuring a cellist, the Maples write the kind of music that would be good to make out to, passionate but not overbearing. As the band played lively and danceable favorites, fans joined them in a cheerful sing-along of sorts, fists in the air as they chanted, “C’mon, we’ll take it.” A moment of solidarity and the perfect capstone to a night of terrific live music in the cool open air.