Aside from a drop-in Saturday night appearance by Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, Downtown looked bleak during most of last weekend’s Las Vegas Shakedown three-day music festival. For some, the end was even worse.
Participating venues Azul Tequila, Beauty Bar, Bunkhouse and Las Vegas Country Saloon saw crowds of around 40-50 turn out each night for a lineup that looked somewhat down from last year’s edition, despite the presence of headlining power-pop veterans The Flamin’ Groovies.
Then, Saturday night at Beauty Bar, local promoter James Woodbridge got onstage and asked for donations—telling those in attendance that Shakedown organizer Ralph Carrera had left Las Vegas without paying many of the bands.
“[Carrera] was just M.I.A., and various bands had been trying to get in touch with him. Some haven’t been able to get in touch with him for a couple of days,” Woodbridge told the Weekly later. “Someone who had been working under him came by and didn’t know what the hell was going on. [Carrera] was gone, [and] he wasn’t paying anybody.” Woodbridge says the crowd came through, contributing roughly $470.
When reached by the Weekly, Carrera admitted the event was poorly planned and that it didn’t draw as he’d hoped, but he said bands that didn’t get paid in Vegas would eventually get their money. “When my show started tanking … I had to go home and start addressing issues,” Carrera said. “I didn’t run off with any money because there was no money to run off with. Some people will be paid within days and some will be paid within weeks, but that’s between me and the bands.”
Despite its small crowds and strange finish, the Shakedown was home to some memorable music. Friday at Azul Tequila, for example, LA burlesque performer Cholita of La Cholita & The Kreeps belted out psychobilly tunes while showing off her pin-up prowess. Hard Fall Hearts bassist Highway J. gave his upright bass some tough love—standing on top of it and twirling it like a B-lister from Dancing With the Stars. At Beauty Bar, local hardcore punks The Hard Pipe Hitters, late adds to the bill, held back nothing during a short, raucous set.
On Saturday, garage-y pop-punks Shannon and the Clams featured the exact right amount of scratchy vocals, fuzzy guitars and “ooh-ah-oohs.” And then Groovies closed out the fest at LVCS in front of some diehard fans. The guys onstage, well into their ’60s, rocked through “Shake Some Action,” “Slow Death” and Ike and Tina’s “River Deep—Mountain High.” At least some folks went home happy.