The Hard Hat reclaims some old Bunkhouse magic with its mobile outdoor stage

Okapi Sun performs at the Hard Hat Lounge’s new outdoor stage, the Stagecoach.
Photo: Spencer Burton

While we await the Bunkhouse’s grand reopening under Downtown Project ownership, pieces of the old saloon can be found at the Hard Hat Lounge. The Downtown bar, which sits at the corner of Industrial and Wyoming, has been under the direction of former Bunkhouse owner Charlie Fox since last fall, serving the same cheap drinks and bar food as old Bunkhouse. And that deer head? It’s there, too. But the new outdoor stage, dubbed the Stagecoach, captures a bit of the Bunkhouse that was just beginning to flourish before Downtown Project bought the bar and its surrounding property in January 2013 for $1.4 million and officially took it over on July 1 of that year.

I stopped by the Hard Hat Lounge on First Friday to catch LA electronic duo Okapi Sun on the Stagecoach, surrounded by what looked like a small crew of Burners—most with hula hoops in tow. Okapi’s glossy, synthetic beats were loud and crisp in the Hard Hat’s backyard, and their extraterrestrial-meets-tribal vibe was emphasized by the stage’s colorful LED light installation.

From the electrical engineering to the hydraulics, the slick, matte-black school bus took about six weeks to complete, Fox says. “When I did the Bunkhouse, it used to take me four guys to set up that [outdoor] stage. I was trying to think of something that I could do that wouldn’t take all [that] work,” he says. Now outfitted with the Bunkhouse’s old outdoor sound system, he’s got a stage that can be packed up and moved anywhere on a moment’s notice.

“It’s like a Transformer,” Fox says. And it sounds as good as any other venue Downtown. The Stagecoach can be turned into a DJ booth, a rock ’n’ roll platform—complete with a drum riser and equipment room—or even an art piece suited for Burning Man. Most importantly, it’s a living piece of the old Bunkhouse—something Vegas has been without for too long.

Stagecoach Hard Hat Lounge, 384-8987. Next show: Brain Jelly Showcase featuring The Solid Suns, Wax Pig Melting, The Astaires and more, May 30, 7 p.m.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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