New factors made me both anxious and excited about this year’s Punk Rock Bowling. I’d heard the event was selling more tickets, which hopefully meant bigger crowds. Local promoter Brian Saliba was no longer involved, but it seemed beloved Vegas groups such as the Vermin and Guilty by Association were still featured prominently. And some of the classic bands (England’s Cockney Rejects? Um, OK.) were unfamiliar to a punk generalist like myself. So I wondered how these adjustments might impact the music. Well, I needn’t have worried. I dropped in on a vintage stand-by, SoCal melodic-punk act Pennywise, who’ve been making music off and on since the late ’80s. They sounded tight (even in the sound-diffusing outdoor stage at E. Stewart Ave. and N. 6th Street), and the crowd reaction was intense. Clearly Pennywise is a band people love to see, despite the fact that Ignite’s Zoli Téglás is the new musclebound frontman. He outdid himself, though, pulling off every classic pop-punk tune the band ever penned, including a few from brand-new disc All or Nothing. But it was when bassist Randy Bradbury pounded out the opening notes of “Bro Hymn,” and the band’s friends and fans all rushed the stage, that I nearly lost my shit and finally stopped complaining about Bad Religion not headlining. Making Punk Rock Bowling an open-to-the-public, less bowling-focused event over the years wasn’t a dumb move; it was brilliant. Can’t wait to see which bands—immortal, obscure, young, local—are brought in next time. ★★★★☆
Best of the City 2016
Our seventh annual celebration of all things Las Vegas, from the best place to fix your speeding ticket to the best Bloody Mary.