Vegas band fishBOL takes you inside its swirling aquarium

Fishbol plays the Beat.
Greg Thilmont
Greg Thilmont

Last First Friday, I meandered into the Emergency Arts building at 10 p.m. Upstairs, all the artists had packed up. Ghost town. Downstairs, however, a band was starting up in the aquarium-like corner of the Beat Coffeehouse. Glass walls on the corner of Sixth looked out onto sidewalks filled with Fremont East partiers. A few looked in momentarily then strolled on. Inside, barely five people were seated. A bust scene, I thought, I’m outta here.

But then the band’s lead singer/guitarist began a jagged drone. Dressed in yellow leather pants and sporting a rainbow guitar strap, the leader started into one of the most black-clothing-bound songs in the rock music repertoire—The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs.” Thinking, You don’t hear this often, I grabbed a beer. After the song, wondering who the hell plays “Venus in Furs” in yellow pants, I checked out the band’s T-shirt table. It read “fishBOL.”

I’d been told casually about this Las Vegas neo-psychedelic outfit last year and now chanced upon the band, which employs guitar circuitry, Moog keyboardism and a theremin played with a bass. While the Beat’s architecture doesn’t lend itself well to overly loud music—large windows made for corner-shopping in the ’50s and all—frontman Fred Dator set fishBOL on a poppy, trip-out trajectory to the heart of Sin City’s black sun at a relatively muted volume.

As a band, fishBOL has been around for a couple of years, with Dator on six-strings and vocals, Ethan Slaughter on bass/theremin combo and Dian Dimov on drums. The trio sometimes gets joined for bar gigs by Galina Vasileva on keyboards and flute. At all-ages shows and in the studio, Dator’s teenage daughter, Angelica, is their classically trained keyboardist.

Dator and his mates frequently dip into covers of hits by Gary Numan and Joy Division—those friendly dark shades in the psychotropic canon. Their original songs, like “We Love You,” have a sequenced, electronic underscore. No, not EDM. Think more like Duran Duran’s cinematic landscapes or Franz Ferdinand at its least guitar-centric. When the aquariumites set the gear to interstellar overdrive, there’s an abundance of dial-twisting, foot-pedaling, phase-shifting and echo-making for your inner-journey soundtrack.

Fishbol Next show June 5, 10 p.m., free. The Beat, 702-385-2328.

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