Neon Reverb beefs up the bottom line

Third edition of the music festival succeeds in drawing crowds, spotlighting local scene

The Morning After Girls play at Neon Reverb.
Photo: Bill Hughes

Neon Reverb: Art of Simplicity

Local band Imagine Dragons played the Neon Reverb music festival in Downtown Las Vegas in September, 2009.

Local band Imagine Dragons played the Neon Reverb music festival in Downtown Las Vegas in September, 2009.

The Most Serene Republic plays at Neon Reverb.

The Most Serene Republic plays at Neon Reverb.

When last I set foot in the Bunkhouse, on a Friday night in August, I witnessed much-hyped San Francisco psych-rockers Sleepy Sun play to a pathetically sparse crowd. So it was with no minor trepidation that I arrived back at the Downtown bar for Night 1 of Neon Reverb’s fall edition, half-expecting to count attendees for a Thursday local-bands bill on my fingers and toes. For the sake of the festival, I was hoping for toes.

I nearly hit the floor, then, when I discovered a full parking lot and packed house for that opening-night National Southwestern Electronic Recordings showcase. And so it was throughout the three-day festival—Vegas bands pulling in sizeable, lively audiences well-known out-of-town acts would be lucky to see. And thus, Neon Reverb—which lost some $5,000 in the spring—came out almost even this time, in spite of our weak-ass economy.

“There was enough turnout that it looks like the only thing that we won’t recoup is $400 in promotional costs,” co-organizer James Woobridge says. “We’re pretty freakin’ psyched about that.” Helping to beef up that bottom line: All five National Southwestern acts, along with local electronic duo Afghan Raiders, declined payment for their performances, kicking their door takes into the festival’s coffers.

Despite its success, however, don’t be surprised to see Neon Reverb scale back its 2010 fall venture to focus on the spring version. “I’m a little worried about overexposure, brand dilution or whatever,” Woodbridge says. “I don’t want people to develop an ‘Ah, it’ll happen again in six months’ attitude.”

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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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