Music

Downtown-apalooza

Neon Reverb looks to fill festival void twice annually

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The Clydesdale are onboard for Neon Reverb.
Photo: Aaron Thompson

Thirry Harlin was shopping in a convenience store when someone spotted the “RT” tattoo on his arm. “They’d seen my Revolution Theory logo on posters for Neon Reverb and asked if I was going,” he says. “I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s my festival!’”

Harlin and fellow Vegas-based concert promoter James Woodbridge are hoping talk of Neon Reverb continues to grow louder as the Downtown music festival’s first installment draws near. From September 11-14, the event will bring more than 30 local and out-of-town acts to the Beauty Bar, Brass Lounge, Bunkhouse and Jillian’s, with opening and closing parties at the Downtown Cocktail Room and Griffin, respectively. “Interest has snowballed pretty fast over the last month or so,” Harlin says.

Regardless of how the inaugural Neon Reverb draws, however, Woodbridge and Harlin insist they are committed to a follow-up edition in March. “We’re hoping for a good turnout and good support and so forth, but either way we’ll do March,” Woodbridge says.

Neon Reverb has its origins in a four-night March event Harlin booked at the Bunkhouse for three years running before he moved to Seattle early last year. Since returning to town in November, Harlin has worked with Woodbridge to stage a number of shows Downtown, and the two men recently devised a plan to resurrect the Downtown festival concept, with one significant transformation. “Thirry was used to doing it all in one venue, but I was more excited about trying to include as many different venues Downtown as we could,” Woodbridge says.

Local act the Yeller Bellies play on Saturday, September 13 at The Bunkhouse.

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The Details
Four-day passes are on sale now for $50 at the Beauty Bar, Bunkhouse, Funk House and Downtown Cocktail Room. Individual show tickets ($5-$10) and single-day passes ($10-$20) are also available.
View the complete Neon Reverb schedule.
Bands you might hear
I'm the Rabbit
The Big Friendly Corporation
The Stript
Pan de Sal
The Clydesdale
Beyond the Weekly
For more information visit Neon Reverb MySpace

“It’s a way to galvanize Downtown and get people thinking even more of the area as a destination,” Woodbridge continues. “It’s kind of modeled on the CMJ and South by Southwest at night model—where people are in a city going from venue to venue.”

That setup stands in contrast with that of Las Vegas’ most famous festival, Vegoose, staged in the fields adjacent to Sam Boyd Stadium from 2005 to 2007. Woodbridge says Vegoose’s decision not to return this year prompted a push for Neon Reverb’s fall launch. “If Vegoose was happening, it wouldn’t have made a whole lot of sense to do this now,” Woodbridge says. “In terms of what we were hoping to bring, it would pale in comparison to what Vegoose could offer. But when we heard they weren’t doing Vegoose, we thought, ‘Let’s try to build it into, not quite a replacement for Vegoose, but a smaller substitute that’s more manageable and in a hell of a lot more interesting part of Las Vegas.’”

Followers of the Vegas scene should be familiar with the majority of the acts, with locals like The Clydesdale, Pad de Sal, Big Friendly Corporation, The Stript, Shirt in the Jupon, Halloween Town and the Yeller Bellies constituting about two-thirds of the bill. Among the most promising visitors: So-Cal folk-rockers Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, electro-poppy Danish outfit Turboweekend, onetime Las Vegas-based Brooklynites The Silver State and San Diego indie six-piece The Silent Comedy.

Neon Reverb’s production team—which also includes Rawkerz’s Johnny Rox and Ozzie Sanchez, Pulsar Presents’ Patrick Trout and Uno Momentum’s Jesse Sampson-Usatenko—also pursued several acts with greater name recognition, such as Louis XIV and Ratatat, but were ultimately unable to secure the funds necessary to book them.

“It’s a missed opportunity. If we’d had some kind of backer step up, we could have brought in some really top-notch acts and gotten some national attention on the first run,” Woodbridge says. “But potential sponsors were being pretty cautious.”

Not to worry, Harlin says. It simply leaves room for Neon Reverb to grow this spring.

“We’re doing September because we wanted to build some momentum for the scene and keep it rolling for the bands, the venues, the promoters,” Harlin says. “But we’re really building for March. That will be the big one.”

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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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