Local Music

Neon Reverb looks beyond this weekend’s seventh edition

Holding Onto Sound plays the Gypsy Den Saturday night.
Photo: Bill Hughes

First the good news: Downtown cultural festival Neon Reverb has landed the promoting sponsor it has been hoping to find since its inception, and it’s a good one—Zappos, the online shoe and apparel giant set to move its headquarters Downtown next year (full disclosure: the Weekly is also a sponsor).

Now the bad news: Zappos’ involvement in this weekend’s fest won’t translate into a blockbuster lineup packed with household names. Where recent editions featured well-known national acts like The Walkmen (fall 2010) and The Dodos (spring 2011), Neon Reverb No. 7 has just one, Germany’s Atari Teenage Riot, which signed on to play a free, all-ages Saturday show at the Royal Resort.

The Details

Neon Reverb
Through September 11
Times, price and venues vary

Festival co-founder James Woodbridge says that with Zappos in the fold, Neon Reverb initially intended to bring in several national names for a blowout outdoor concert. Zappos suggested otherwise. “They said, ‘That would be awesome, and then you’d be right back at square one [financially] after that one show,’” Woodbridge says. “They said, ‘Think long-term, like a business.’”

So Woodbridge and co-organizers Thirry Harlin and Jason Aragon agreed to stash part of Zappos’ contribution away, for the marketing and promotion of future festivals and for improvements to the festival’s website. That still left them with some money for headliners, but, as it turned out, not enough time to find any.

“It’s a bizarre situation: We had money to pay bands, even to fly them in to play, and there just weren’t any around,” Woodbridge says. “We’ve been able to get rising bands, regional, sort-of-undiscovered bands, for a good price. But we used to be able to get the next-level, national acts that were known but not huge, for a couple thousand dollars. Now, it seems like no one at that level will play for that price.”

That’s not to say Neon Reverb won’t showcase any touring bands this time. Brooklyn’s Prairie Empire, San Diego’s Cuckoo Chaos, Dallas’ Anonymous Culture and Tucson’s Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout! are among some 20 visiting acts scheduled to play Thursday through Sunday at participating venues the Beauty Bar, Bunkhouse, Artifice, Gypsy Den, Beat, Azul Tequila and Royal.

There’s no doubt, however, that the primary focus of this Neon Reverb will be local. From established Vegas anchors like The Clydesdale, Holding Onto Sound and Moksha to newer hometown projects like Most Thieves, Candy Warpop and Hunnypot, the next four days should serve as a reminder of the strength of the scene, circa right now.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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