Into the Neon (Reverb)

Las Vegas bands to catch during this week’s music festival

Everyone has a favorite big-name local band playing Neon Reverb: Afghan Raiders (Beauty Bar, March 13) and The Skooners (Bunkhouse, March 14), for instance. But there are also a half-dozen local acts that are either unjustifiably obscure or have been keeping a low-profile. These bands are now primed to blow away anyone in earshot. Admission varies, but prices are very affordable. Purchase passes and get more info at

For fans of Neil Young & Crazy Horse:

Vietnam Cowboy singer/guitarist Bobby Martinez made waves in town with his psyche-rock outfit The Pandas a few years back. After the band collapsed, he moved into a house high up on Sunrise Mountain, stripped things down to an acoustic guitar and harmonica, and moved in a folkier direction. These days, Martinez’s amps are cranked to 11, and he’s ready to unleash what he calls “cosmic desert country-rock.” Gypsy Den, Thursday, March 11.

For fans of Pedro the Lion, Sun Kil Moon:

Minor Suns benefit from having three atmospheric guitarists who rely on layering their chords and notes (instead of all playing the same stupid power chord). The result is an indie-rock lover’s walloping dream, from the stealthy drama of “Give It a Try,” in which singer Ryan McIlvaine whisper-croons a heartbroken commitment “to ride it out like I always do.” Textured, romantic, and stirring. Boomers, Saturday, March 13.

For fans of The Bronx, Black Flag:

Straight out of Boulder City, the bad boys of Dangerboner are fully erect and vacuum-pumped to smash eardrums with no-frills brand of punk ’n’ roll. When you hear a song title like “Operation Bloodstorm,” do any terrifying images come to mind? Well, those images are exactly what you should expect to happen at their show. In other words, this band makes your band sound like a basket full of soft, fluffy kittens. Boomers, Friday, March 12.

For fans of Muse, Animal Collective:

The music of Underwater Ally bubbles like black-lit, sugar-scented bongwater at dawn. Songs such as “From Indochina to Africa” and “A Day Beside the Sun” possess such a uniquely majestic sensibility you don’t even need drugs to feel high. Somewhere amid the arty ambience of Tangerine Dream and the visceral pop of Pink Floyd, this Vegas quartet launches listeners into orbit with melodic, pop-oriented style that defies easy categorization. Bunkhouse, Saturday, March 13.

For fans of Interpol, The Killers:

Close To Modern consists of four Mexican-American dudes in their 20s who pay homage to two British bands: Joy Division and The Smiths. The band filters these influences through the artificial prism of life in Vegas, so that in a song like “Sedentary Lesson,” you get appropriate lyrics like “Sketch your life right on the outside.” No other group captures the essence of Sin City alienation and phoniness. Gypsy Den, Saturday, March 13.

For fans of Radiohead, Led Zeppelin:

Sure, Wall Street Vampire earns the award for Most Topical Band Name. Still, this alt-music trio also knows how to conjure the sound of the decade when punk, metal and pop—a.k.a. grunge—dominated rock radio. All those soaring arena anthems Smashing Pumpkins and Alice in Chains forgot to actually write? Well, Vampire includes them all in their satisfyingly varied set list of moody rockers. Bunkhouse, Thursday, March 11