“We’re gonna do something f*cking crazy,” Mike Watt announced Saturday night inside Vinyl, and then the punk rock veteran did just that, leading his Missingmen through a “45-minute song with 30 parts,” as Watt described 2011 album Hyphenated-man.
A smallish but supportive crowd stood close and watched transfixed as the 54-year-old bassist—most famous for his years with seminal ’80s outfit the Minutemen—directed guitarist Tom Watson and drummer Raul Morales through the complex, dense and sometimes extremely experimental composition focused on life as a middle-aged man.
At points, the trio played loudly. At others, the three musicians barely touched their instruments at all, allowing the space between, as Thelonious Monk famously put it, to say as much as the notes themselves. It was weird. It was powerful. And it was surely unlike most anything those in attendance had witnessed before.
“Thanks for having an open heart and an open mind and for letting us do something like that for you,” Watt said, as the Missingmen left the stage to heartfelt applause.
The band returned minutes later, for a raucous encore that included an updated version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Machine Gun,” along with a closing version of Minutemen classic “Anxious Mo-Fo.” Watt promised to play Las Vegas more often and asked for help finding a secure spot to park his van for the night. And then he headed out to the merch table, where he sold shirts and CDs and interacted with his fans.
All in all, a very un-Vegas night. Here’s to more like it.