Strolling into the Bunkhouse Saloon for Thursday night’s Neon Reverb Rockabilly/Alt-Country Showcase was a full immersion into two opposing time warps. The bar decor and local performers The Clydesdale produced an air of Wild West days, while the pin-up dos and greasers repped the ’50s era in support of headliners Three Bad Jacks. The Downtown dive, with antlers on the walls and sepia-toned spaghetti Western art, was crowded with every variation of the pompadour imaginable.
Local band, The People’s Whiskey opened the night with a sound more rock than billy. Distorted guitars, heavily echoed vocals and lyrics like, “I like the inside of the bar more than the outside of my cell” set the tone for the raucous night to come.
The musical road was paved for Downtown darlings The Clydesdale to hit the stage led by multi-talented frontwoman Paige Overton. Filling the alt-country quota for the showcase, Overton impressed the crowd with not only her pipes but infectious trumpet leads and funny quips. The cowboy-punk sound was complete with two-note bass lines and slide guitar, proving their unique and sometimes quirky sound can adjust to fit any bill. The Clydesdale has galloped to the top tier of my list of favorite Las Vegas bands.
The Lucky Cheats had a tough act to follow, but their blues-rock set garnished with impressive harmonica skills was a suitable transition into the night’s headlining act. California’s Three Bad Jacks began their set by waxing nostalgic about Las Vegas watering hole the Dive Bar, offering a tribute to the now-defunct venue with their song “Gone, Gone, Goodbye”. TBJ, who have toured relentlessly since the late ’90s, have garnered a clone-like following. Fans swing-danced and sang along happily to TBJ’s throwback-rock tunes until a cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” abruptly ignited an intense mosh pit. To be fair, Lemmy’s growl can alter the dynamic of any crowd. I learned this lesson as a child at a neighborhood ice cream social. Mint chocolate chip everywhere.
TBJ continued their wild performance, burning through a set of fan favorites, including “Thrill Me,” Remember the Nights” and “Falling Down”. The showcase climaxed as frontman Elvis Suissa set fire to the drum-set mid-percussion solo. After my flashes of the Great White nightclub fire subsided, I basked in the diversity of the night’s line-up and the exposure Neon Reverb creates for our city’s music scene ... and I immediately regretted not bringing marshmallows.