“Uh oh,” says Derek Tinker, lead singer for The Central Powers, shooting a look of total panic mixed with feigned coolness at guitarist Khari Christmas. It’s nearing 11 p.m., and Christmas has snapped a guitar string three songs into the Vegas band’s set. But then, barely 10 people are watching anyway.
That’s right, even before the curtain has drawn on the Alley’s final performance (This City in Collision, later in the night), the thrice-opened, thrice-shuttered all-ages music hub is already, essentially, dead. And listening to operators Dan Maltzman and Stephanie Valentino talk, the end came not a moment too soon. “We’re just burnt out,” Maltzman says. “Its time for us to do something new.”
A little history: The Alley began life in 2005 inside Family Music Center on West Sahara, famously hosting Panic at the Disco’s first live show; closed in 2006; reopened in 2007 in the same location but under new management (Maltzman); closed weeks later after a bout with the county; and then reopened last December in its new digs, North Las Vegas’ Discovery Church.
Maltzman, Valentino and the latter’s husband, Anthony, insist they relished the chance to showcase up-and-coming bands for younger music fans. So what’s got them down? They say one local band stole more than $1,000 worth of equipment from the Alley during a show there a couple of weeks ago. “They know who they are,” Stephanie Valentino says, declining to name the band. “We couldn’t believe it, especially since it’s a church.”
Spectre of thievery aside, the mood inside the Alley is jubilant on its final night. A crowd that peaks at around 20 eats up everything from the Christian hard rock of PAR-A-DIGM (above) to HaleAmanO’s reggae groove to The Central Powers’ indie licks to the hardcore-punk lunacy of This City in Collision.
All-day rock fest Extreme Thing is raging to the southwest, and the closure of Craig Road at I-15 has made trekking to the church that much tougher, but This City in Collision rhythm guitarist Zack Brad still wonders aloud why the venue isn’t packed for its going-away party. “I mean, they’ve helped the scene a lot,” he says. “Seeing places like the Alley close down should send a message that the scene is going down. Lots of kids don’t realize the opportunity that places like The Alley give to young bands to play.”
For his part, Maltzman isn’t ruling out a future for the Alley and its pay-bands-first business model; he even mentions the possibility of taking the venue to Family Music yet again. But first, “The scene needs to have a heart-to-heart to see what it wants,” he says.