THURSDAY, MARCH 22 Kick it off at the Beat with Dreaming of Lions (9 p.m.). Chris Leland’s achingly intimate new tunes might have you grabbing for a tissue, but you won’t have to reach for your wallet—this one’s totally free. Then it’s time for your first tough choice of the festival: to boogie-woogie or rock out? It’s cowpunk/rockabilly night at the Bunkhouse, anchored by local mainstays The Clydesdale (10 p.m.) and The Lucky Cheats (11 p.m.), plus SoCal vets Three Bad Jacks (midnight) for a $10 cover. Meanwhile at Artifice, indie out-of-towners Young Prisms from San Francisco (11 p.m.), The Velvet Teen out of LA (midnight) and Chapter 24 all the way from London (1 a.m.) converge for $6 a head. Oh, and if you need a good laugh, pop into NR’s free Comedy Show at Insurgo Theater inside the Plaza Hotel between 10 and 11:30 p.m.
FRIDAY, MARCH 23 The Beat’s got another (free) warm-up session, this one featuring locals Bryan Todd and Dusty Sunshine (8 and 9 p.m., respectively). Or, if you’re feeling a fresh-air vibe, head straight to the Gypsy Den for the $7 Girls Rock Vegas! Showcase, featuring five female-fronted bands, among them resurrected local fave Mama Zeus (8 p.m.), Balkan rock (by-way-of-Arizona) collective Dry River Yacht Club (9 p.m.) and hard-touring Vegas five-piece Ministry of Love (11 p.m.).
As the night wears on, the Bunkhouse and Aruba join the battle for your attendance. Las Vegas Weekly presents fidgety Long Beach indie rockers Crystal Antlers on the big, wooden stage behind the Bunkhouse (scheduled time: 12:30 a.m.). Five other acts, including Boulder City bigwigs Dude City (11:30 p.m.)—celebrating the release of a new album, no less—will alternate indoors and out from 10 p.m. until, well, till your ears can’t take anymore ($12 cover). And over at the Aruba, LA alt-rockers Nico Vega (midnight) are part of a five-band, $10, 18-and-over bill worthy of consideration.
SATURDAY, MARCH 24 Neon Reverb’s most unique new aspect unveils itself on Saturday—an outdoor, all-ages, electro-pop party at the Junkyard at 708 S. 1st St. ($15). Indie stalwarts VHS or Beta will be there (7 p.m.). Vegas favorites Kid Meets Cougar will be there (8:30 p.m.). Eclectic live act YACHT will be there (9:30 p.m.). What about you?
That one should be over “early,” leaving you time for one last Neon Reverb decision—the best way to end your Saturday night. If you don’t feel like going far, and your body craves even more synthy goodness, head to the Beauty Bar for a four-band outdoor show ($5). If you want rock, the Aruba has you covered, with San Diego’s Cuckoo Chaos (midnight), locals Most Thieves (1 a.m.) and more ($10, 18-and-over). And if reggae and ska are your bag, you’re probably already lining up for LA’s Aggrolites (12:30 a.m.) out back at the Bunkhouse ($10 for six bands starting at 10 p.m.).
SUNDAY, MARCH 25 Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in. Neon Reverb’s only Sunday show has potential to be one of its best, with locals Hungry Cloud (9 p.m.) and the Dewane Brothers of Rusty Maples/Skooners fame (10 p.m.) teaming with Atlanta outfit The Back Pockets (11 p.m.) at the Bunkhouse for $6. A Weekly writer who caught the Pockets at SXSW last week described them as “hippie-punk/folk rock with wild seance-like performances.” Sounds like a natural way to close it out. [UPDATE: The Sunday show is in doubt after The Back Pockets had to pull out of the festival. Stay tuned for further news.]