Festival focus

Checking in on Neon Reverb, one month out

Photo: Aaron Thompson

So you're ambling along Fremont Street on a random spring evening when suddenly, you hear ... Wolf Parade? You press closer and discover the music isn't coming down from the canopy's speakers — Montreal's acclaimed indie heroes are here, playing a free, all-ages show on an outdoor stage.

Singer and guitarist Daniel James, of Leopold and His Fiction, sporting a Native American headdress, bested himself by topping his own pheasant feather hat at the last installment of Neon Reverb.

That scenario might just play out at next month's Neon Reverb music festival (well, except for the part about you not knowing ahead of time since, uh, you just read about it). Organizers say they've secured the stage and the neighboring casinos' blessing to hold the event. They even have a corporate sponsorship lined up that would allow them to fly the headlining act into town and pay a sizeable performance guarantee. Now they just need the band.

"We have an opportunity to do something big," co-organizer James Woodbridge says. "It's just a matter of finding the right band. We're in negotiations with several big acts — hopefully we can get one of them nailed down soon."

Even if the outdoor-stage component falls through, this upcoming Neon Reverb installment (March 11-13) should look a bit different from its three predecessors. While Downtown — the Beauty Bar, Bunkhouse, Aruba, Gypsy Den, Las Vegas Country Saloon — will once again serve as the fest's hub, plans could call for an enhanced all-ages component at North Las Vegas' Area 702 Skatepark. Hip-hop should also command a larger presence among the bill's 100-ish acts, thanks to partnerships with Vegas collective Macro-Fi and local rapper HighDro (the latter runs a weekly hip-hop showcase at Boomers, another Neon Reverb stronghold). And Yayo Taco, Dino's and the 540-capacity showroom inside the Greek Isles Hotel might all serve as first-time venues.

LA garage rockers Mere Mortals bring pageantry and sonic domination to The Bunkhouse as part of Neon Reverb.

Also, expect March's festival to feature more international flavor than ever before. Working with online promotional entity Sonicbids, Neon Reverb's booking team has secured confirmations from a number of overseas acts, such as New Zealand Sub Pop-pers Ruby Suns, Japan's Bo-Peep and Ireland's Autumn Owls. Other out-of-towners already on board: LA's The Delta Mirror, Colorado's Indigenous Peoples, Idaho's Finn Riggins and Reverb returnees Leopold and His Fiction, Spindrift and Mere Mortals. And, of course, the fest will boast its usual slew of local favorites over its three nights.

"I feel good about where we are — lots of great stuff, including some things we haven't done before," Woodbridge says. "I'd just like to get a couple of the main acts worked out. We need that for the festival to have the upward trajectory we've always talked about."

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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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