The Beauty Bar was sparsely populated for Neon Reverb’s Wednesday-night kickoff, but those present came in high spirits. Local Lucas Johnson of The Ku opened, and even presented without a drummer, his whiskey-soaked narrative would have made any southern-rock band proud. Johnson's deep, raspy melodies drifted through the room as patrons trickled in. Moral: If you play it, they will (eventually) come.
San Francisco’s The Trophy Fire took the stage next, fresh off a performance at South by Southwest, for their Vegas debut and tour finale. The trio's indie power-pop brought a shot of adrenaline to the evening's tempo. Passers-by and fans alike filled in the venue’s holes to catch an earful of the high-energy show.
And then, almost before you could blink, Portland's White Orange rolled out three massive 8-by-10 speaker cabinets and a timpani-sized kick drum appropriate for Andre the Giant. This crew was prepared to blow the beauty right out of the bar. With flowing mustaches, shoulder-length hair and tattoo sleeves, the band’s members appeared to step right out of 1973 and onto the stage. Confirming volume suspicions, frontman Dustin Hill heckled the sound engineer, "Do you have a gain knob? Yeah, turn it up."
As the bass shook the floor and blew dust from the furniture, guitars screamed and each kick of the drum pounded in your chest. It was a sensory onslaught, as White Orange bulldozed through a jam-filled set of experimental rock. Winding down the night with our bones rattling: just what we needed to make it past hump day.