It’s always exciting to see a show at a new venue. Especially in a town like Vegas where, no matter how promising, venues tend to come and go like tourists. Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel is the latest spot to surface and personally, I’m really excited about it. A dark room features a cool little stage, a quiet bar, and plenty of floor space for anyone seeking to hit the pit. Add in the sweet name, speakeasy aesthetic and the fact that it’s off the Strip and easy to get to, and it already feels like a winner. But venues are only as good as the acts that grace their stage, and on September 27th, 2012 Vinyl was home to four of punk rock’s best.
Agoura Hills, CA’s ska-gone-punk band The Sheds got the night started with an energetic set in front of a small, still-developing crowd. For being a relatively young band, they had fans singing along the whole time, due in no small part to their consistent touring schedule (this marked The Sheds’ fourth Vegas show in under 12 months). They finished recording their first full-length before leaving for this tour and played a few new songs along with favorites from their …And Now For Something Completely Different and Self/Doubt EPs (and a cover of Kid Dynamite’s “Cheap Shots Youth Anthems” for good measure). Of the new songs, “Ignorance is Bliss” was the clear standout, instantly catchy and making me eager to hear the LP in its entirety when it’s released in 2013.
More people filed in as The Sheds wrapped up their set and Rochester, NY’s Such Gold took the stage. It’s been over a year since the melodic hardcore band played a show in Vegas and since I had to miss that one, I was really excited for this chance to finally see one of my favorite bands live. They played hits both new and old, with “Two Year Plan,” “Storyteller,” and “Gut Rot” being among the highlights, and the low stage and lack of barrier (two more things that made me instantly fall in love with this new venue) made sing-alongs intimate. I nearly lost my voice screaming along with vocalist Ben Kotin during set closer “Locked Out Of The Magic Theater,” and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Next up were The Swellers, another favorite of mine who I regrettably missed when they played earlier this year. I was surprised at how polished the Michigan punks sounded and impressed with their stage presence. You could absolutely tell that this is a seasoned band, hitting their stride. New tracks like “Hands” meshed well with their varied back catalog, from the No Use For a Name-esq skatepunk of “Bottles” to the poppier “The Best I Ever Had” and everything in between. And speaking of No Use for a Name, an undeniable highlight of The Swellers’ set was when members of Strung Out joined them on stage for a moving tribute to the recently-passed No Use for A Name frontman Tony Sly with a cover of the band’s “Justified Black Eye.”
There was a slight shift in the crowd after The Swellers left the stage, with a few (but not all) of the younger fans heading out and some older late-comers filing in. Headliners Strung Out were the true veterans of the night, celebrating over 20 years as a band by playing two of their most beloved albums back to back – Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues (1996) and Twisted by Design (1998) – with only a second No Use for a Name cover in-between. Strung Out were pioneers in fusing punk rock melodies with metal riffs and nowhere did they do it better than on these two influential albums. Not being as familiar with Strung Out as I was with the tour’s earlier bands, I was just left feeling impressed by their insane technical musicianship and energy – with only drummer Jordan Burns, confined by his drum stool, keeping both feet on the ground for longer than 2 minutes.
With a great first impression, Vinyl seems poised to be a welcome host to more cool all-ages shows like this one, and hopefully on a consistent basis; which is all anyone in this town can really ask for. So keep an eye out for more shows at this venue, I know I will!
Photos by Steven Matview | https://www.flickr.com/photos/holdfastnow/
and Tyler Newton | http://500px.com/spottedlens