Saturday, March 08, 2008

Tales From The Double Down, Part Two

Door to the Double Down men's loo, snapped by caseyville

Saturday in Vegas, my third day in that city. Already I'd grown weary of the glitz, the relentlessness, the Ersatz. Earlier in the day Dearest T had left on a jet plane back to the shores of Blighty, leaving me alone in this strange town.

What to do? Why, head on back to the Double Down. Duh.

Truth be told, I was a bit hesitant going on my own. Not because I'm shy, but because I worried (once again) about being the sad, old man at the bar. But what swung it for me was the promise of four bands playing live. Indeed, the Double Down routinely hosts gigs, mostly of the punk, garage, and raucous roll persuasion. There's no cover charge, the bands don't get paid much more than a pittance and some booze, and yet the roster is always full. Why? Cos the Double Down is awesome, that's why.

When I arrived, the place was hopping, again with the most marvelously eclectic mix of punx, tattoed love boyz 'n' girlz, college kids, and regular Joes & Janes. And I needn't have worried about being the solitary gooseberry; folks actually came up and TALKED to me! I had a most engaging conversation with Howie, an Elvis lookalike van driver from, of all places, Vancouver. Amongst other things, we discussed his penchant for corpulent women. And he bought me beers. I also chatted to a hipster dude in town for his stag do, who suggested that when discussing my profession I should refer to it as "BANG-KING" (equal stress on each syllable) so as to convey the idea that it's something vaguely edgy, perhaps even pornographic. A bit later I ended up refereeing a beer shotgunning competition. Dang, this really IS the "Happiest Place On Earth."

And then there was the music. What fun!

Shaun Kama took to the stage (such as it is at the DD) with his Kings of the Wild Frontier, looking like the bastard offspring of Nick Cave and Johnny Cash, all wiry frame, tattoos, careworn face, tight black jeans, and slicked-back hair. And together they belted out some righteous music. Though Kama's pedigree is steeped in punk and metal, the tunes were squarely based in the American West; twangy, country rawk underpinned by crackling energy. The songs spoke of roads traveled, dice rolled, cold hearts, phantoms, death, loneliness. It was all sincere, tight, and most excellent.

Shaun Kama & The Kings Of The Wild Frontier - This One Ends In A Murder (buy here)

Next up were LA's The Cheatin' Kind, and boy did they stir the pot! More country & western, this time served up sassy, trashy, and thrashy with liberal splashes of both honky and tonk. Brassy blonde frontwoman Babs McDonald's vibrant twang was amply backed up by the plucky pickin' of marvelous Miss Melanie Makaiwi on bass, and the gentlemanly duo of Chel T. Rich on skins and Paul Morris on gee-tar. The set was a stompin' romp through covers ("Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad," "Took A Lot Of Pills & Died") and originals, including their affectionate ode to the very bar we all found ourselves in that night.

The Cheatin' Kind - Double Down (Most kindly sent by Miss Melanie. It's not on their 2006 album Turned On Too Long, but you can and should buy that over here)

SoCal punks The Cosmic Creeps fired off some groovy ghoulishness a la Misfits, but to be honest your FiL was still in too much of a Western yee-haa frame of mind to truly appreciate what they had to offer. On top of that, he was hanging out with Howie by the men's room (see photo above) having his umpteenth Red Stripe. So once the Creeps finished sometime after 2AM, FiL called it a night, foregoing the charms of local hardcore outfit The Latchkey Kidz. But thanks to the magic of YouTube, I was able to see some what I missed. You can too!

And so once again I hit the bed in my hotel room, head all a-buzz, thinking about how to get back to the Double Down at least one more time during my stay in Vegas. I had become convinced it was the only way I was going to survive another four days in that town...

P.S. Miss Melanie did a stint with the brilliant Scarling, who recorded an awesome cover of the only Radiohead song I really like, Creep. I've been waiting for an excuse to post it, so now that I have one, here you go:

Scarling - Creep (buy here or e-here)