It had been a while since Japan’s rock ‘n roll loving trio, The Heiz, graced our city with their energetic-ass-shaking performance. Squidhat Records gracefully bridged that gap for us by releasing their latest record, pronounced ðə héɪz. The release of the album had the band crossing the Pacific for their “East Meets West Tour” with local favorites, Franks and Deans, with the last stop being three days in Vegas for as much Heiz as our city could handle. From a release show at Double Down Saloon, to downtown sessions at Cowtown Guitars and 11th Street Records.
On this occasion, I made my way down to the Double Down for the album release show. A packed Saturday night affair supported by the best local talent: Franks & Deans, The People’s Whiskey, New Cold War, and The Psyatics. The vibe felt right from the moment I stepped foot in the door, partly because I had started drinking earlier in the evening, but mainly because every familiar face I saw was filled with joy.
The night started off with The Psyatics. This was my first time experiencing the band live, so I ordered a perfectly made Jameson and Ginger, tipped generously, and promptly had my expectations surpassed. This trio composed of Rob Bell on bass and vocals, Jack Ball on guitar, and Jimmy Krah on drums, powered through a set reminiscent of Violent Femmes meets Sonny Vincent. Their sixth-sense chemistry is clearly evident in the way they effortlessly play their songs, all while looking so fucking cool and making the crowd move. Jack Ball’s Gretsch Black Falcon and I made intense eye contact throughout their set. It helped that he, along with the rest of the band, spectacularly played their instruments. The Psyatics are definitely a band to catch live!
Up next were Vegas punk rock veterans, New Cold War. I was particularly excited to see them that night, because rumors of their set having two drummers were confirmed. Their last couple of performances have been spot-on, and this was no different. First started as a studio project by John “Sideburns” Brown, “Andy “Cool Glasses” Harrison, and Cody “Werewolf” Leavitt, they have morphed into a kick ass punk rock machine, now with The Quitter’s Tommy “Hey Hey Playa” Carr on guitar since Andy Harrison’s move. Back behind the kit from a baby-raising hiatus, Luis “Dave Grohl” Mendez joined Micah “Maniac” Malcolm to topple off a jaw dropping New Cold War set. Everyone was perfectly amplified and their talents shined. Ripping through favorites like “Growing Down” and “Progeria,” they absolutely slayed to a packed room.
Luis Mendez’s hiatus also put The People’s Whiskey on hold for bit, with their presence mainly kept going by vocalist, J. Boogie’s, solo sets throughout town. This was the perfect occasion for a proper TPW comeback. With myself and the packed crowd properly hydrated with enough booze, the guys had no problem riling people up. The People’s Whiskey are Vegas royalty. They have been around long enough to have a devout following, and have the songs to back it up. It’s no wonder they had the best selling record on Squidhat for a while. Their set felt like they never missed a beat, and living in this city feels a lot better now that they are back.
The band of the night was up next. Everyone was ready to be starstruck by The Heiz all over again. I had just finished a lovely conversation with Micah Malcolm that I hope to share soon. I had lost count of how many drinks I had in me at this point, which put me in the right mood when The Heiz hit the stage. It’s hard enough for bands in this country to hit the road, so I can only imagine what it was like for these guys to try and make it back here again from Japan. The head spinning process was well worth it. From the first reverb heavy chord, people started swaying side to side. It was damn near impossible to stay still by the surfy licks from Shaku Keiji’s guitar, Watanabe Asako’s thumping bass slaps, and Kimura Takashi’s tasteful drumming. Their incredible set schooled us on how American rock ‘n roll was meant to be played. Their musicianship is infallible. From the songs they play to the way they dress on stage, these guys are ready to soundtrack the next Quentin Tarantino movie.
[Editor’s note: Alan Madrigal had to head out before Franks and Deans took the stage, so this final part of the review is courtesy of photographer Anthony Constantine!]
Franks and Deans have quickly become one of my favorite local acts to catch at a show. Somehow they ended up being the final act on this night and they kept the party going with their punk infused Rat Pack covers. For the uninitiated, they are always accompanied onstage by a scantily clad dancer who adds a certain old time feel to their performance. On this night, no one was safe from said dancer, Nickole Muse, not even The Heiz who got all sorts of danced on. During their cover of “Splish Splash” Nickole pulled out a loofah and started scrubbing the members of the band, as well as members of the audience. Overall this show was a blast and Franks and Deans closed it out with style, grace, and rad covers.
Photos by Anthony Constantine | https://www.facebook.com/anthonycphotography