One of the most exciting new events on the Strip doesn’t feature any of the typical billboards with resident DJs or touring acts. Instead, its focus is on the immense and prolific talent that resides right here in Las Vegas.
Born from a well-received Facebook post, Neon Valley Showcase is a monthly local concert series that takes place at Brooklyn Bowl, located on the Linq Promenade.
Chris Bitonti, Brooklyn Bowl’s Director of Marketing, and artist/musician Ryan Brunty, the founder of Depressed Monsters, came together to create Neon Valley after Brunty rallied for a local showcase in a Facebook post fishing for suggestions on what Brooklyn Bowl should host next.
“It’s something we wanted to do for a long time. We may be a bigger venue, but we’re very locally-driven. On top of that, there’s so much local talent in this city,” Bitonti says. “When Ryan posted, ‘Let’s do a local showcase,’ and we got a ton of interaction on that, we were like, you know what, it’s time.”
Taking its name from the state’s postal abbreviation, Neon Valley is open to any musician or band in Nevada. But the event’s proprietors hope that it will become much more than just a music showcase and, instead, focus on the artistic community as a whole.
Brunty, who was born and raised in Las Vegas, wanted to develop something to give back to the city he loves so much.
“Whether it’s playing in a band or doing art, there’s so much room for enriching this city with different art forms,” he says. “What’s cool about this showcase is that we can take all that and show anybody who wants to come to this venue [that], hey, there’s a lot of cool shit happening in this town, and here’s the venue for it.”
The all-ages and free pilot event went down on February 3 and exhibited a diverse lineup of acts, representing the wide-ranging styles found all over the Valley.
The Rabbit Hole, a collective of DJs and producers, kicked off the show and also held down the intervals between sets with their captivating beat curation. The All-Togethers, a five-piece band lined the front of the stage side-by-side, playing to the crowd both with jokes and their self-coined brand of “hillbilly jazz.” Next up was Mike Xavier, an expertly paced and wildly positive MC, who weaved through his practiced set backed by a full band. His young son, Jaylyn Thai, offered an introduction and performed the first track with his proud dad. The show closed out with infectious indie-rock band O Wildly. Although the crowd was engaged throughout the night, they were most energized during their headlining set. Finishing at around 11 p.m., the event proved to be appropriate for families and early risers alike.
The focus of the first event was music, but Brunty and Bitonti will shift the emphasis to art as a whole with the coming showcases, in part thanks to newly acquired sponsor Sam Adams via its new brew, Sam ‘76. Beyond paying the musicians and providing their signature beer, the brewer will also be printing a huge banner that will hang on the stage for showcases to come. The design of that banner will be determined through a contest, open to all local artists, with details forthcoming.
Neon Valley has the potential to become an important facet in a musician’s journey. “We hope that feeling of being on a world-class stage will really ignite some cool things in bands,” says Brunty, who has played in many bands in town on top of running his mental health advocacy group.
To get on, an artist simply has to reach out. Both Brunty and Bitonti are happy to meet and learn about any musician in town interested in playing a show. Having a ton of experience is not necessary, but there is a prerequisite.
“We’re ok finding those bands that maybe haven’t played a lot of shows yet, but have a lot of talent there. As long as they come with the right attitude that we’re all in this together, we’re good,” Bitonti says.
The next scheduled Neon Valley Showcase is Thursday, March 8 and will feature an all-new line-up of locally grown talent.