Veterans of the indie-rock wars

THOSE FAMILIAR WITH aerodynamics and sports such as bicycling and NASCAR racing know about “drafting,” also called slipstreaming or tailgating. An object in motion follows closely behind another so as to reduce drag and save fuel. In sports, drafting is acceptable, even preferred. In nature, the V formation of migrating birds suggests the practice is, well, natural. However, in local indie-rock promotions, it’s dubious at best.

The Royal House’s Pastel Project has been announced for the March 23-24 weekend, featuring superb bands such as The Whigs, Tennis and The Album Leaf, along with my favorite local indie act Minor Suns. There’s just one problem. Spearheaded by beloved singer/songwriter Ryan Pardey (whose own band Halloween Town is slated to perform), The Pastel Project is obviously trying to draft Neon Reverb, which takes place the same week.

Neon Reverb has run every March and September since 2008, bringing top indie bands to town at a time when no one else had the energy or skill to make it happen. The fest has drawn competition from the Book & Stage’s free music series, sure. But overall, the quality and success of Neon Reverb remains consistent, a testament to the dedication of the three dudes—James Woodbridge, Thirry Harlin and Jason Aragon—who run this cultural institution.

Ironically, the Royal has served as an official Neon Reverb venue. Rather than fly that banner again, The Royal is hoisting its own. That’s cool, because too much of a great thing (in this case, cool indie rock) is still a great thing. Still, it’s annoying to see a new “off-brand” (for the moment, anyway) capitalizing on others’ hard work. A call to the Royal’s PR person revealed the decision to book The Pastel Project that week stems from a desire to catch bands and fans making their way from SXSW to Coachella—even though five weekends separate the events. But who can blame the Royal? With indie rock happening all over Vegas, why build their own fest from scratch when folks are already coming? Worst part for me? The cost of buying two sets of passes. For more info or to order pre-sale tickets, go to To max out your credit card with an additional all-festival Neon Reverb pass, visit

In other fest news, the long-running Extreme Thing celebrates its 17th year March 31 at Desert Breeze Park. The list of bands on five stages looks strong, with the highlights being The Used, Black Dahlia Murder, Falling in Reverse and local fave This Romantic Tragedy. Basically, every band with a T-shirt for sale at Hot Topic is playing this thing. For more info, go to

Finally, the underground music event of the week is Vegas crust-punk/black metal label Ecophagy Records’ two-year anniversary show 7 p.m. March 2 at Yayo Taco. The bill includes California blackened death-thrash band Gravehill, plus Life’s Torment, Zoloa, Seas Will Rise and Vihan Rytmi.

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When Dov Davidoff told his last joke Dec. 31 at The Lounge, it marked the end of an eight-year run for the Playboy Comedy Club at the Palms. The property, which was recently taken over by private equity firms, couldn’t deliver any longer on the hopes producer Cort McCown had for the showcase. “I love George Maloof,” McCown says of the Palms’ former majority owner. “I respect him a lot. He was a great guy to work for. Unfortunately, I wasn’t working for George anymore.”