Heading down to the Farm on a Friday night, I had never felt so alone. It’s a long story, really, but the combination of being away from friends and family, the economy (always blame the economy!) and a particularly soggy burrito made for a lousy state of mind. When I saw the giant face of a cow staring back at me—centerpiece of the Farm’s logo declaring it Las Vegas’ “Premier All-Ages Music Venue”—I felt worse.
“I love playing all-ages shows,” said Adam Michaels, lead singer and guitarist for the band Searchlight, which was headlining and releasing its debut album that night. “Usually, when you get an all-ages show, it means that it’s an actual venue, as opposed to, like, a bar. People are going to the venue because they want to see a band.”
I wasn’t sure. Having waded through the parking lots of a tattoo parlor and some sort of motorcycle-themed restaurant (Moto Café?) in order to get inside the South Rainbow locale, the last thing I wanted to do was see a band. In fact, hiding in the nearest restroom stall seemed like a far better idea.
“I’m interested to see how it’s gonna go,” Michaels went on. “It’s really easy to get to. It’s a really cool, personal, intimate place.”
The Farm has capacity for 389, but seems as though it could fit more. It’s designed like a large rehearsal space, with a wide-open standing-room area separating the stage, sitting in one corner, from a couch and mixing boards. Owner Tracy Rader, who named the venue after the Music Farm in Charleston, South Carolina, runs the sound, while his brother, Tony—whom Tracy calls “the bean counter”—mans the ticket booth.
Back on the scene, I was starting to get antsy. The first couple of bands did more screaming than singing, and I was beginning to feel like the dirty old man in a room full of acne-faced, tattoo-clad, studded-belt-wearing teenagers.
“It’s cool,” giggled Kayla Smith, 19, a fellow concertgoer. “It’s good for the young kids, I guess. It reminds me of Jillian’s … but safer.”
“It’s [a venue] for people who aren’t a part of the ‘older’ age group to come and do something,” chimed in Smith’s friend Dani. I wanted to go home.
Yet while I contemplated death on the farm, Old Yeller-style, local punk outfit Lydia Vance impressed onstage. And like that, everything suddenly made sense: the spitting, cursing and Social Distortion-esque riffs from the band, the teenage angst swelling through the crowd, the dark openness of the space—but then, the lights came on, and the moment was gone.