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Neon Reverb Night 1 recap: The Drums, Jay Som and Hidden Levels

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The Drums’ Jonny Pierce.
Photo: Spencer Burton
Jason Harris

THE DRUMS: Including last night’s sellout show at Triple B for Neon Reverb, I’ve now caught The Drums four times in Las Vegas—dating back to a 2012 set at Body English—which is more than I’ve seen any other touring act in this city, Why? The band brings its audience pure happiness each time it takes the stage.

Neon Reverb 2017 Opening Night: The Drums

It’s a strange and beautiful sight to see such an eclectic crowd—Downtown hipsters, 20-somethings, aging rockers, gays and lesbians and Latinos—all there to experience pure musical ecstasy for such an extended period of time together. Even the NYC-based indie/surf/dance-rockers saddest songs—like “Best Friend,” about singer Jonny Pierce finding his best friend dead in a car—showcase such a joyous spirit and raucous singalong, it elevates the entire crowd emotionally.

Pierce remains one of live music’s must-see figures. Even if his unique dance style has grown a bit more methodical, it remains riveting, as are his voice and overall charisma.

Currently on his first tour without any other original members of the group, Pierce referenced his tight relationship with co-founder Jacob Graham, wishing him well on his new projects but also conceding the departure has left him less secure. “It becomes daunting and scary,” he said. “Tonight I don’t feel any of that.”

JAY SOM: Get used to the name. Melina Duerte, 22, records everything by herself, then takes a three-piece band on the road to bring it to life. Their Reverb performance was a bit up and down, with the dream-pop aspects of the set falling short of what a group like Beach House accomplishes within the subgenre. Then again, Beach House now has far surpassed Beach House from five years ago, so let’s see how Jay Som progresses. When the musicians focused on crunchy, lo-fi rock, it succeeded at a higher level. Check out “1 Billion Dogs” to hear them at their distorted best.

HIDDEN LEVELS:. Featuring two members of defunct Vegas band Twin Brother, Hidden Levels gets better the deeper it gets into creating a full sonic soundscape. The three-piece, which moves between shoegaze and psych-rock, consists of old TB players Adam Grill on vocals and guitar and Brian Scanlan pounding hard on drums, along with a more recent addition, rock-steady bassist Jason Aragon. The band is putting final touches on its first studio album, so expect to see a lot more of them this year. Pulsing set-closer “Sleep or Dream” is a live destroyer, building to a worthy crescendo.

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