Neon Reverb Saturday: Mark’s journal

A B & the Sea
Photo: Helena Price

After experiencing an evening of timing conflicts Friday, I knew not to clock-watch Saturday night. So, with an open schedule and an open mind, I began my second night at Neon Reverb.

Walking into the Griffin, I immediately notice something ... Nobody's here. I brush this off, thinking Zach Ryan & Friends must be warming up in the back room. Asking around, I'm told the bands (tonight's set includes the Black Shades as well) are at least an hour behind schedule. With so many venues in the area presenting festival shows, my friend and I move on in our crusade for live music.

A quick look in the Weekly's calendar informs me that Mike Weller and Chandelle are performing right across the street at the Beat. Inside, a dozen hipsters are scattered around the eclectic coffeehouse. The place resonates with conversation, but no instrumental beats. After about 10 minutes of thumbing through the old albums on sale and waiting for signs of a soon-to-be show, we decide to hit the road once again.

Next on the agenda is the six-band lineup performing at the Bunkhouse. Grabbing a bite to eat on the way, I am prepped and ready for a long night of listening to some of the festival's finest. Arriving around 10:15, I realize I already have missed the Whisperlights but am just in time for Reno folk group Buster Blue. The diverse sextet (band members include a trombonist and a clarinetist with mean bari sax chops) exhibited awesome energy and had numerous onlookers singing and dancing to their upbeat, wholesome vibes.

In striking contrast, the next band to play was San Francisco indie rock group LoveLikeFire, which the crowd of 40-plus seemed to dig, as they stuck around to give the mellow rockers a fair listen. The audience seemed to thin a little when visiting He's My Brother She's My Sister took the stage. Some retired to the bar, many ordering, what else? PBR. The frontman, however, knew how to keep those already there interested, constantly mentioning Leopold and His Fiction, as he thanked the band for the use of their kick drum.

Wanting some fresh air, I stepped outside to find several people socializing with familiar faces from the night, as many of the musicians stuck around to support their festival fellows. Then, something caught my eye — a school bus. Finding the mode of transportation intriguing, I investigated and found it fittingly belonged to visiting band Education, who appeared at Yayo Taco on Friday. They told us they scored a Neon Reverb encore and were slated to appear after the initial closing act of tonight, A B & the Sea.

Ending our chat with the musicians, I noticed that the people congregating outside had multiplied and that amps and axes were once again being rotated out. Leopold was next, and the energy was back up. A peek inside revealed the masses were quickly gathering before the stage. The indie rock trio delivered an energetic set of head-bopping songs to the crowded saloon, booking it out of the place not too long after.

The last band on the official schedule was an act I was really looking forward to. Indie surf rock group A B & the Sea hails from San Francisco, originally from Winneconne, Wisc. Finding this fun fact out early in the evening, I was ready to hear a Midwestern take on the Beach Boys. The verdict? Relocation suits them. These guys were a ton of fun to watch and listen to. The crowd was a mere dozen or so, but everyone was enjoying the set, some even joining in to sing along with the band's cover of "Don't Worry Baby." The set finished around 2 a.m., with the Education encore announced only as the new-to-California rockers exited the stage. Education was quickly setting up, but with their CD in my hand I was ready to call it a night. I took my merch and my mental list of songs to download and headed home, looking forward to the final day of the fifth installment of Sin City's premier music festival.


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