By now, you know the big musical headliners for this weekend’s Life Is Beautiful festival in Downtown Las Vegas: Kings of Leon, Beck, Vampire Weekend, etc. What you may not know is that there are a handful of awesome local bands slated to perform, too.
Sadly, with the exception of the few locals playing the Red Bull Sound Select stage and commercial Mormon synth-poppers the Killers and Imagine Unicorns (oops, I mean Dragons), the fest organizers opted to create a special ghetto for homegrown talent called, unoriginally, the Homegrown stage. Still, you’re going to want to experience some Vegas bands triumphing with a proper sound system. Here are my recommendations for local groups to check out. October 26: Skip the sugary froth of the Dragons’ 6:45 p.m. set and head over for some jams-kickin’ hard-rock action courtesy of Crazy Chief, who commandeer the Homegrown Stage at 6 p.m. They will be immediately followed by the city’s two best indie acts—quirky yet epic A Crowd of Small Adventures (7:25 p.m.) and Americana-encrusted Rusty Maples (8:50). Don’t stay out too late that night, because the next “morning” (Oct. 27), you need to be up early for alt-country combo Dusty Sunshine’s 2:25 p.m. performance. Then you can dart over to catch L.A. indie-pop act Haim on the Huntridge Stage at 3:40 p.m. before returning to the Homegrown Stage for a 5:10 p.m. show by “cinematic indie pop” ensemble Most Thieves.
If Life Is Beautiful doesn’t buoy your yacht-rock, there are certainly intriguing options in the underground scene this week. Neo-garage guru Ty Segall’s new heavy-metal psyche band Fuzz lights up Beauty Bar at 9 p.m. October 24. Segall sings and plays drums in this group, with a self-titled debut album that arrived in stores earlier this month. I’ve been banging my head for the last weeks to massive bong-scented, fuzz box-powered guitar jams such as “Earthen Gate” and “Haze Maze.” Trust me when I say this concert will dwarf the entirety of Life Is Beautiful. Also on the bill: Leather Lungs and CCR Headcleaner.
What else? How about the Vibrators, the mid-’70s U.K. punk-rock band responsible for punchy, melodic, broken bottle-slashing, Mohawk-scalping non-hits “Automatic Lover” and “Judy Says (Knock You in the Head).” The Vibrators are among the few classic English punk groups whose music still holds up very well. Not surprising, given that these guys (currently a trio with just one original member, drummer John “Eddie” Edwards) are more rock ’n’ roll than anything else. The ’Brators vibe Double Down Saloon at 10 p.m. October 25. L.A. punk duo Evil Beaver opens.
Finally, my favorite dirty-ass garage-rock band in town, the Black Jetts, headlines a big, dozen-plus lineup at the Dive Bar (4110 S. Maryland Pkwy.) at 6 p.m. October 26. This is a free, all-locals show with two stages (one for acoustic artists, the other for electric acts) that will serve as a gritty counterpoint to Life Is Beautiful (it’s playfully titled the Life Is Shit festival). Also on the bill: Fat Dukes of Fuck, Deadhand, Dangerboner, Skorchamenza and many more.
Your Vegas band releasing a CD soon? Email Jarret_Keene@Yahoo.com.