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Neon Reverb: Chris’ Saturday journal

Chris Bitonti

I walked into Downtown’s Gypsy Den at 9 p.m., just as veteran Vegas punk band, Holding Onto Sound began slamming into its Neon Reverb set. Nestled in the heart of the Arts District, the Den mimics an old-world caravan, converting train cars into a stage and a desert lot into a sand-filled carnie party. Any excuse to spend a night amid beer vendors who look like snake-oil salesmen is fine by me, but I was especially exciting to hit up the venue for a punk rock show.

I was curious to see how a punk opener would grease up an audience primed for a headlining hip-hop performance, but HOTS had the formula down right. The crowd, a mixture of too-cool-to-let-loose hipsters, I-came-to-get-rowdy collegians, a few eager-for-acceptance high schoolers (yes, it was all-ages) and the occasional passing homeless person, supported to the trio’s dynamic lineup. A crew of HOTS supporters even tried to get a moshpit going, the sincerest form of punk flattery.

As HOTS wrapped its set with a crash of distortion and feedback, I made my way to the venue’s entrance to check out the smartly parked Sin City Wings ’n Things food truck. One of the newest additions to Vegas’ ever-expanding mobile food family, Sin City Wings did not disappoint. Chef Bobby even took a break from slathering “Goodman Sauce” on perfectly portioned tenders to let me in on the food truck’s secret tipping policy: A buck or two in the jar will get you a hearty “Thundercats Ho!” staff holler, and you might just find an extra wing or two in your order.

With buffalo sauce still on my face and a cheap beer in hand, I followed my ears to the tune of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” back to the stage. There I found a sea of fist-pumpers, as headliner OLI began its official release performance for new record, Fake the Love. OLI, short for Outside Looking In, featured flawless delivery, though most of its set was spent spitting obscene lyrics, directing chants of “Wu Tang” and yelling over one-another. No matter, the rap trio had the masses entranced, crowd-surfing over fans and even “making it rain” as they played raunchy jams like “F*ck Retards” and “Your Beauty’s So Disgusting.” For me, the climax was seeing a guest spot from local hip-hopper Hassan.

After playing the entirety of the new record, OLI got called back for an encore performance and was joined by a self-proclaimed “hype man” … the elementary-aged daughter of one of the crew’s members. All in all, it might not been my scene, but there’s no doubting the overflowing energy shared by Saturday night’s assortment of performers and attending vagrants.

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