Lagwagon, Strung Out and Sack at The Backstage Bar and Billiards in Las Vegas on October 5th, 2022

Las Vegas, NV – Lagwagon brought their “30ish” anniversary of “Being on the Wagon” tour to Las Vegas on Wednesday, October 5th at the Backstage Bar & Billiards on Fremont Street, and they brought along punk favorites Strung Out and long-running, Teenage Bottlerocket / Lillington’s side project Sack.

I have had the pleasure of seeing Lagwagon in concert on a number of occasions, and in pretty much every size venue from massive festival stages to the more intimate type shows, and I will say that this show may have been my very favorite one yet.

The evening started with Denver-based punk band Sack taking the stage. Normally, I like to preview any band that I have not heard of on a bill, and for some reason, I hadn’t heard the name “Sack” before. 

Well, color me surprised when I see Kody Templeman (Teenage Bottlerocket / Lillingtons) and Ray Carlisle (Teenage Bottlerocket) front and center playing a much heavier, louder version of punk rock then any TBR or Lillingtons songs really venture into.

It was pretty awesome, and I felt like a dummy for not having looked into them, but at the same time, it is a side project that has only emerged a couple of times over the past 20 years (the band originally had Ray’s twin brother Brandon in the band before he died about 7 years ago). 

Templeman had a much different stage presence in this band then in TBR as he pretty much came out like a drunk bum (as in, scummy dude) just going crazy on stage. It was an excellent piece of character portrayal as the band ripped through about 12 songs in 30 minutes at lightning speed with very little banter.

Next up was the legendary punk band Strung Out. The band has been around about as long as Lagwagon. So, for both bands, it could be said that they were celebrating “30ish” years as a band. 

The band belted out some of their hits and also a couple of new songs along the way. Lead singer Jason Cruz is still on top of his game even though he has a bit more salt in his pepper black hair these days.

The one thing I will say about Strung Out is when you come to watch their show, be prepared for a loud wall of sound to hit you at full force. I have seen them at least 2 other times, and only when I saw them at an outdoor venue was it less noticeable (soundwaves floating to the ether and such). Indoors, they will 100% bring the volume.

Last but not least, Lagwagon came to the stage with a band that looked like they were already having a lot of fun backstage celebrating the last few nights on tour. The show was about an hour earlier than normal “headlining” bands in Vegas as they came on right at about 10pm (which definitely seems normal to me, but for some reason punk bands always have to go on way too late here).

The band played about 21 songs over the course of their 80 minute set which literally spanned the 33 year history of the band’s catalog, and the crowd went nuts for just about every last one of them.

Some of my personal favorites were "Sleep" (possibly my favorite song of theirs), “Violins,” “Give It Back,” “Heartbreaking Music,” and “Island of Shame.” Though I will say, I truly love all of their songs.

They ended their set with two of their most well-known songs as well in “Mr. Coffee” and “Razor Burn” (which is definitely one of my absolute favorites, and usually a closer) before coming back on for an encore – you know…the “not-at-all-planned-extra-songs.”

The encore consisted of Joey Cape coming onstage alone with a guitar to kick off “Alien 8” before large and in charge lead guitarist Chris Flippin took the guitar away from him and the rest of the band joined in for the rest of the song.

Then came fan favorite “Making Friends” which always gets the crowd a bit hyped, but not nearly as much as when they play “May 16th” for the finale. 

Of course, in this instance, they had to restart the song after the first couple of bars due to technical issues with bassist Joe Raposo’s wireless guitar system not operating (at least that’s what I was under the impression was going on as it happened earlier in the show as well).

The bass issues aside, the show was absolutely incredible, and I still think Lagwagon is one of the best live bands you can see. Always a good show, and always a crowd that seems to know how to act (maybe I just jinxed it though).