When a 1:15 promo crams 26 iterations of “sh*t” between a skateboard nut-shot, angry monkeys and a glistening turd plopped on sweet young seedlings, you expect to walk into a dark place. I wasn’t disappointed last Saturday, October 26, when the Life Is Sh*t Festival took over the Dive Bar with some spirited anti to that other fest about life. The production involved a little sh*t talking, appropriately, but mostly it was a community love-in showcasing local music and art (and cars that looked ready to burst into flames).
Rather than wax about it being small but exuberant (it was) and winning hearts by laughing loudly at itself all night (it did), I’ll just say that Life Is Sh*t made me love Las Vegas more. Co-founder Jack Johnson (of Dude City and Dangerboner) posted on the fest’s Facebook page to thank everyone who contributed (including the random drunks) to the success of the night and the $300 raised for local nonprofit Girls Rock Vegas, adding: “… we witnessed the overwhelming sense of Las Vegas community that exists, has always existed, and doesn't need contrived manipulation or millions of investor dollars to build. Thanks everyone for showing us what we've known all along.”
Here’s hoping Life Is Sh*t returns in 2014. Until then, enjoy these snapshots of the sh*tty good time that was.
• Lawn Mower Death Riders opened the fest, rousing fans with original drunk anthem “Down at the Pub.” The spray-painted “Life” sign fell off the wall almost immediately, leaving “Is Sh*t” to hang behind them. It felt right. Kinda like Wasteland Gallery’s display of badass Star Wars tribute pieces by Dan45 sharing the table with a shining Pabst.
• Josh Ellis introduced himself as Beck. He sang of scatterlings and bastards, tourists and sprawl, drones and David Bowie before admitting that if he were really Beck, he would have brought a marimba.
• When Zabi Naqshband took the stage, dudes affectionately yelled that they wanted to be in his beard and his heart. His beard is pretty epic, and so is his guitar work. He strummed so fast at one point that I swear his hand phased into another dimension.
• The raffle box was decorated with glitter and a toilet seat. Prizes ranged from gift certificates to the Dillinger and Pair-a-Dice Tattoo to “sh*tty” CDs by the likes of Supersuckers and The Raconteurs and a pair of inflatable Coors bottles. After drawing the same ticket number back to back—that someone had already won with—Johnson said: “This isn’t the Life Is Really Organized and F*cking Professional Festival.”
• Artist Erin Emre had a table of goodies outside, representing her Etsy shop Just Us Freaks. She said Life Is Sh*t is the first time she’s shown her work live. I fell in love with a rusty can with a graceful neck of garfish bones and a head of mink jaws named Hector.
• I don’t know who won the sh*tty car show, but my money is on a red Ford called "The Beast." So much is broken that its owner needed two sheets of paper to write everything down. The car’s sh*ttiest bullet point is a tie between “Legally totaled in’03” and “Has exposed screws that cut you.”
• Between sets, some guy walked up and said I looked familiar, pregnant-chick-from-the-Slayer-blood-drive familiar.
• War Called Home took the stage in full costume, as the Red Team, the Blue Team and Double Dare host Marc Summers. The image of singer Grant Davis balls-out punk thrashing in big hair and mom jeans will linger for the rest of my life.
• While I didn’t stay long enough to see it, I heard that James Adams of Same Sex Mary played Life Is Sh*t after playing Life Is Beautiful.