Some of the most ferocious shows I’ve experienced in Las Vegas were put on by Seattle post-hardcore band the Blood Brothers. So when I heard the Blood’s founding member/drummer Mark Gajadhar was bringing his project Champagne Champagne to Beauty Bar at 9 p.m. Aug. 17, I had to contact him and learn more.
Turns out Champagne Champagne has been pouring it on—on and off—since 2006. They played the Warped tour and supported everyone from Flobots to Slowbox on the road. This is the band’s first Vegas headlining show, and Gajadhar, who says he loves playing this town, is ready to show us the full range of his musical talent (he plays guitar live) and his ability to jam with two killer MCs.
Champagne Champagne, as its name suggests, offers a double-shot of mic-killing pyrotechnics in the form of Pearl Dragon and Sir Thomas Gray. Songs like “Four Horsemen,” from the band’s latest EP Private Party, are party rock aimed at those who dig indie hip-hop. The music sounds like a good time and is a departure from the Blood’s apocalyptic din.
“I was always writing hip-hop stuff while in my previous band,” says Gajadhar, 30. “Once Blood Brothers broke up, I tried out a bunch of singers and kept searching. I had a whole record ready to go when Pearl and Sir Thomas jumped on board.”
There’s more freedom and fun in Champagne, which reflects Gajadhar’s personality. “I’ve always been the only guy in the band who goes out for a drink after a show,” he says. “The title of our EP is a nickname the other guys in Blood Brothers gave me.”
Champagne isn’t a reaction to anything. Gajadhar isn’t making indie rock-meets-rap music just to be different. “It’s what comes out. I wasn’t intentionally trying to write hip-hop. If I had found a singer, it could’ve gone completely indie.”
Other worthy weekend shows: Outlaw country-punker Hank3—a.k.a. Hank Williams III, son of Bocephus and grandson of the greatest country artist of all time—plays House of Blues at 9 p.m. Aug. 18. Hank3 released four albums last year on his own label. The title track from one of these discs, “Gutter Town,” is incredible, and his band simply kicks ass.
Finally, Austin, Texas, prog-blues-rock shredder Eric Johnson plays Body English at the Hard Rock at 8 p.m. Aug. 21. Best known for his 1990 Grammy-winning instrumental “Cliffs of Dover,” Johnson has built a reputation as an incredible live performer, and his most recent disc, 2010’s Up Close, is as close to a perfect instrumental-rock album as you get.