SquidHat Records’ annual birthday bash represents an opportunity for the Vegas punk label to showcase its current roster while simultaneously adding to it. SquidHat execs invited six unsigned local acts—Bobby Meader Music, War Called Home, Strange Mistress, Mercy Music, Sounds of Threat and Unfair Fight—to last weekend’s two-night throwdown at the Double Down Saloon, all of them vying to be the local imprint’s latest act.
SquidHat has good reason to celebrate; 2013 was a productive second year for the upstart label, which signed eight artists and released nine titles. And founder Allan Carter shows no signs of slowing down, already projecting eight more releases in 2014.
The punk faithful packed the place to catch SquidHat’s veterans—Surrounded by Thieves, The People’s Whiskey (last year’s winners), the reunited Peccadilloes and the rarely seen Attack Ships on Fire, featuring Carter and fellow label execs Mike Bell and Stephen Fahlsing—and to cast support behind their favored competitors by moshing and gulping down Ass Juice. Like a fine toilet wine and Kraft Singles, the pairing of the annual SquidHat event and the Double Down couldn’t be more perfect.
My personal highlight of the two-day event was Mercy Music, which performed as a three-piece for the first time after a series of solo, mostly acoustic sets from frontman Brendan Scholz, formerly of Lydia Vance and Deadhand. The bass and drums added power to Scholz’s melodies, vintage-rock-ish with an outlaw country flair—a style that would complement SquidHat’s punk-weighted roster nicely.
At press time, no champion had been named. Carter says the label will meet with its top two choices, and I’ve been assured that if a clear decision can’t be made, the winner will be decided in true punk fashion: with a game of sudden-death Bop It.