Friday’s Neon Reverb showcase at the Bunkhouse featured a two-stage setup—inside and out—and a rotating schedule that kept bands performing nonstop from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. Schedule-wise, Friday ran smoothly and gave the evening a mini-festival feel. The Bunkhouse was full, with a mixture of punks, alt-country fans, steam punks, hipsters and the possibly—and confirmed—homeless.
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When I arrived shortly after 9, I headed straight out back to see “one man loco motive freight train” Fuzz SoLow. The Las Vegan plays guitar, drums and sings simultaneously, and though he’s limited by his four extremities, he’s a lot of fun to watch perform. His voice howls and his guitar screams and his feet tap the drums throughout his set of blues rock. I’m hoping, with Def Leppard in town, Rick Allen might let Fuzz borrow his foot-operated kit to expand his capabilities.
As soon as Fuzz finished outside, we all made our way back into the bar to catch Bogtrotter’s Union. A local bluegrass/punk-fusion six-piece that take its name from a derogatory Irish slur, this band pairs perfectly with a drink. Though their drunken sing-alongs made my post-St. Paddy’s hangover flair up a bit, their songs also helped me drink right through it.
Next up: Coastwest Unrest on the outside stage, where I discovered that the day’s breeze had become a full-on desert wind, taking the temperature down 15 degrees and whipping the leafless tree positioned directly behind the stage. Coastwest celebrated the release of new album High Times on Lowly Streets at the Neon Reverb showcase. The band features a mixture of sometimes spoken-word over backbeat drumming and some rockin’ fiddle solos. Frontman Noah Dickie is a beat poet with a delivery reminiscent of David Byrne, had Byrne been an apocalyptic-street preacher. Las Vegas plays a frequent character in Coastwest’s new songs and seems a fitting muse for Dickie and company. Dickie dedicated the new song “The Wire Birds on Charleston Blvd” to “all of the great artists in Las Vegas who go unnoticed.” He is at times both a critic and a proponent of the city, and Coastwest’s songs burn with intensity, beautifully layered with a mixture of violin and distorted guitar.
I then headed back inside to escape the wind, grab another beer and check out LA’s Reverend Red, whose psychobilly rock—think: punk drumming plus stand-up bass with a madman singing—made for a nice transition between Coastwest and local favorites The Clydesdale, which was setting up outside.
The Clydesdale opened their CD release show, which would be plagued with technical difficulties throughout, with a brief acoustic set. “We thought we’d open with a few acoustic songs to warm you guys up because it’s pretty cold out here,” frontwoman Paige Overton announced as fans grabbed blankets and huddled close to hear story songs of the Old West, with echoed guitar and Overton’s haunting vocals. Had there been a campfire and some hobo packs we really would have been in business. New EP Trail of the Painted Pony, which The Clydesdale played fully, in order, further demonstrates the band’s mastery of its signature cow-punk style. The crowd thinned throughout its set, mostly due to the weather, but the foursome—Overton, guitarist Andrew Karasa, bassist (and Neon Reverb organizer) Jason Aragon and drummer Courtney Carroll—rolled with the technical issues and the cold winds and put on a great show.