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Neon Reverb report: The Beauty Bar in Mint condition

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Neon Reverb, meet the Mint 400.
Photo: Chris Bitonti
Chris Bitonti

It’s Thursday night and Downtown Las Vegas is buzzing with activity. Actually, it’s more revving and rumbling, as fans and racers prepping for the famous Mint 400 desert trek fill Fremont East. With the festivities shutting down the street, fans are free to wander between show cars and sponsored tents, some of them even stumbling into the Beauty Bar to join in on Neon Reverb’s second night. The twice-annual Downtown music festival is now celebrating its fifth year, which as we all know, is the wooden anniversary, if you’re looking for gifts.

The Beauty Bar is moderately attended as The Burning Symphony takes the stage, and I’m half-expecting their distorted-guitar-siren-call to lure more randoms in from the street to fill out the crowd. Sure enough, before frontman Wyatt McKenzie’s amp is even fully warmed up, the bar fills. The Burning Symphony is usually a power-trio but only two members— McKenzie and drummer Nick Hoffman—are present tonight to perform their goth- and new wave-laced rock.

The Herbert Bail Orchestra, performing Thursday night inside Beauty Bar.

The Herbert Bail Orchestra, performing Thursday night inside Beauty Bar.

Next up is Most Thieves, a local band I’ve seen many times and have always enjoyed. It’s probably the act I’m anticipating most on this year’s Reverb lineup, and they do not disappoint. Their melodic waves seem to flow from the stage, while marching drums continually build and drive songs forward. This is the kind of band you can close your eyes and nod along to. Bright vibrations fill the room as bodies sway and folks share cigarettes while absorbing some of Vegas’ best local rock.

The venue clears out significantly when Most Thieves finishes after midnight and those who leave early miss out on LA-based gypsy-revival act The Herbert Bail Orchestra. As the band takes pulls of whiskey to the side of the stage, more, then more instruments are unpacked. At last check Herbert Bail has an accordion, fiddle, trumpet, trombone, keys, guitar, banjo and drums, not to mention the loose and fun sing-alongs. Those of us still around enjoy their foot-stomping folk till the early morning.

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