Local Vegas Rock Bands Shine at Blacksheep Booking Show at The Griffin December 18th, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NV – The local Las Vegas rock music scene is getting a definite revival the last year or two with some incredibly talented bands emerging and other bands getting back out there after having to sit out a pandemic and figure out what to do next.

The talent is definitely present and the genres span everything from punk to rock/jazz fusion to hardcore to psych rock and even quite a few instrumental bands becoming popular amongst fans.

Local Vegas promotion company Blacksheep Booking put together a crowded back bar show on Sunday night at The Griffin on Fremont Street that pulled bands from lots of those genres.

The night started with the grungy indie rock band Machine Death (formerly Faded Prisms), and the band played about 5 songs as a two piece with Thomas Tashoty (guitar/vocalist) and Angel Esquimo (drummer) before bringing on a new bassist (that will be working with the band going forward) on the last song of their set.

One unique aspect of this band was that Tashoty daisy chains two guitar amps with different pedals to create a more sonically ambient and add a “stereo” effect to the sound of the band.

The band has recently released their first single titled “Webcams.net” which was one of the songs they played. It has a definitive angst in the song akin to some of the grunge bands in the 90’s but with a more post-punk driven melody and composition which makes it a sound that seems to be gaining popularity with young rock fans these days.

The next band up was the instrumental experimental rock band Peaceful Retreat. This band has been around for a bit longer than the other three bands as they are the only band that even existed before the pandemic on this lineup.

They put out an EP in 2018 called “Genesis” and you can definitely check out that release to get an idea of the sonic landscape that the band builds out.

Their set was incredibly impressive, and the band’s timing was impeccable. Even when their drummer plays nothing and there seems to be little rhythm or timing to keep the band on the same page the entire band knows exactly what is happening and come back into an incredibly tight progression of their song without any sort of count off or audible cue.

It’s like they are all one organism with an internal beat going at all times even as the limbs flutter and pound at different parts of the song.

There was nothing about the band that didn’t impress with each member playing something that both sounded good and was also technically difficult to pull off (even if it was just a 3-minute sustained arpeggio without making mistakes).

The band isn’t going to be making a crowd jump around and start a circle pit by any means, but what they will do is give you an audio experience that in its current form allows you to space out and create a bit of a visualizer in your head.

Next up was the newcomer 4-piece band No Surprises. I say “newcomer” because the band was playing only their second live show (the first was about 2 months ago).

The band is definitely a firm shoegaze band that reminds me of Pixies and other melodic bands that dabble in that genre.

The 4-piece band was the only band of the night that had two vocalists which used to be a lot more common in rock bands than it seems to be these days. The one thing that could likely be tinkered with is having both singers on the same song and/or adding harmonies into their songs, because right now both singers just sing a full song without any vocals from the other singer during their songs.

I would probably expect to see more of that happen down the line once both are more comfortable with their roles as singers and musicians. Adding gang vocals, harmonies and switching on and off as vocalists usually comes with a lot of experimenting and comfortability with the music and each member’s role in the band.

The last band of the night was Hunter’s Briefcase, and I had just seen them about 5 days earlier, but it never gets old watching this band.

I don’t say this to throw shade on other bands, but Hunter’s Briefcase is not only one of the most technically savvy bands on their respective instruments, they are also incredibly talented at crafting great songs with top-notch vocals.

Truly, they are one of the best bands in the city right now even with only a handful of songs and being a very new band.

I have said it before and I will say it again, but the rhythm section in this band is insane. Carter Woodson on bass is a damn groove machine, and Nic Mendoza on drums is literally a wizard. He has the very rare combo of being technically superior on drums like a Travis Barker mixed with the heavy hands and feet of Dave Grohl. It’s like Mendoza was grown in a drum laboratory. Shit, he may be a cyborg. I never asked.

Lead singer Jake Mendoza is also a great guitarist throwing in trills and tap guitar and little tricks here and there to showcase his skills as well. He is also a damn good vocalist.

Another really cool thing about the band is they are very humble and gracious for every opportunity. If they keep that attitude, they are going to go as far as they want to go in music, I think.

All of these bands were awesome, and if you haven’t been to a local show in Vegas lately, I highly encourage you to go to one. The bands are incredibly diverse these days, and if you live outside of Vegas and read this, well, go check out a local show in your town and see some local bands the next time you visit Sin City.

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