The SunCan Music Festival Showcased the Resurgence of the Local Las Vegas Music Scene


LAS VEGAS, NV – On Saturday, April 15, 2023, local Las Vegas pop-rock band Arrlo joined forces with local promotion company Black Sheep Booking to put on a music festival and canned food drive known as SunCan Music Festival, and the local Vegas music scene did not disappoint.

Over 600 people attended the festival which was held at the outdoor stage at Ferguson’s Downtown, and every band on the lineup brought their best.

The show started with Vegas rockers White Noise taking the stage and getting the crowd amped up by jumping into the pit (LITERALLY) with the crowd. Lead singer Kaesen Samson brought his guitar down to the crowd and started rocking out with members of other local bands while bassist Nicolas Lacy (a.k.a. Nikona the Destroyer – my personal nickname for him) decided to take the faster route and leaped from the stage down about 6 feet to the ground while having to clear about 3-4 feet of another step. Doing this while tethered to an amplifier is not exactly easy nor safe, but nothing is out of the question for The Destroyer.

The band debuted two new songs in their set which seem to be leaning more towards a punk rock sound than their more classic rock sound, and they even brought up Fez Reyes from the local bands Elephante King and Elevated Undergrounds to play guitar on one of their songs as well.

White Noise always has fun on stage, and they are always smiling which isn’t something that every rock band can say they do while playing live. These guys definitely know how to enjoy their time in front of a crowd.

Next up was the jazz-rock instrument Post NC which is comprised of three incredibly talented musicians, Leo Berenguel (a.k.a. Leo Bagel) on keys, Sam Ramirez on guitar and Marcus Flippen on drums.

They have recently added a bit of performance art to the show as the festival host - the comedian Savino - stood center stage, perfectly still staring off into the distance while trying to not blink as much as possible which led to tears streaming down his face. An interesting way to accompany an instrumental band, to say the least. I can’t say if there is a statement within the performance, but at the surface level, it did have people talking.

Of course, that’s not to take away from the music which is incredibly well put together and works equally at an outdoor festival as it does at a cocktail lounge. Post NC is definitely one of the most respected bands in Vegas as well, and they are by no means the only instrumental band that plays frequently either. So, while a lot of mainstream music fans might not understand why bands don’t use vocalists, the genre of instrumental music is widely appreciated within the Vegas music scene.

The teenage band The Dollheads followed Post NC and kicked their set off with their brand new song “The Microphone” – a VERY strong song – which is a single that will be included on their new EP “Et Cetera” coming out on May 6th, 2023.

For fans of The Dollheads, they know that the show is always going to sound great and be a lot of fun. For those who have never heard of the band, you will be blown away by the skill and quality of sound that comes from these youngster.

The thing that I always have been impressed by is the songwriting from the band. They seem to write about subjects that are 10-15 years in their future, but not only is it genuinely written, the songs clearly mean something to the band as lead singer Angela Avery will go through a range of emotions in a set from fiery to melancholy to hyped up depending on what the song seems to convey.

That is the sign of the weight of the songs, in my opinion, and I think others who have seen this band understand that is true because I have not yet met someone who has said a negative word about their songs or their performances.

And they just keep getting better each time out.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that after their set, I was able to personally present them their award from the recent Powered By Rock Music Awards ceremony for Best New Artist as well.

The sun had set by now when another all-teen band known as Part II and the Electric Boogaloos came on, and they were ready to rock from the first moment they turned on their instruments.

The band consists of Jeffrey Gill on guitar and lead vocals, Ben Bernstein on bass, and Noah Peyton on drums, and the chemistry between the three of them is high energy, have fun, and rock out which is a great combination for a live show.

They definitely have throwback vibes of late 90’s Blink-182 and other pop-punk bands of that genre, and they know how to get the crowd involved. Whether they are creating well-placed, synced flair jumps into their set or they are cracking jokes in between songs, the band sounds good and doesn’t try to overcomplicate the rock show formula which leads to a highly entertaining performance.

I spoke with Gill after the show just to offer appreciation and encouragement as it was my first time seeing the band live even though we had communicated through email a couple of times. They definitely exceeded my expectations.

Next up came Desert Island Boys who if I could best describe their music it would be Surf-Hardcore or something to that effect. It is a great mix of jammy music and heavy riffs. The band has been a scene staple for a few years (longer than most of the bands on the lineup, to be honest), and they know how to draw a good crowd.

It was at this point that the crowd really started getting moving as you could see moshing but also for the first time in the evening crowd surfing started happening.

The band played a high energy set that sparked a bit of rowdy energy in the crowd - not dangerous, just rowdy. More movement, more moshing, more dancing.

Photo Credit - John Pacheco - Instagram @johntoggy2

And by the time their set ended, most of the crowd was ready to take things up a notch.

Then indie-rockers Secos (who recently took 3rd place in the City of Henderson Battle of the Bands where they shined) took the stage, and as always, they brought a good crowd to SunCan Music Festival.

Secos is a band that doesn’t have many counterparts in the Vegas rock scene in the sense that their style is quite unique, their stage presence is very professional, but at the same time, lead singer David Candelas also knows how to hype their fanbase (known as “Sick Ass Foos” or “SAF” for short).

They played a stellar set with some of their fan favorite songs, and they had family and friends sitting right up front enjoying the show.

I will say that one of my absolute favorite things to do while watching Secos play is to just zone in on lead guitarist Jose Becerra’s play as he honestly might be the most “spot on” guitarist with everything he does in the Vegas music scene.

What I mean by that is his leads and the way he plays is EXACTLY perfect for what the song calls for. He’s not playing over everything else, his mix, timing, and just tone are “spot on.” I encourage you to watch him for a full song or two and be mesmerized.

Oh, and yeah, the rest of the band is awesome too, and the best news is they will be releasing a new album soon. So keep an eye out for that.

Festival hosts Arrlo (who took first place in that same Battle of Bands that Secos was in) came up next, and they played a set that continued the good vibes with their pop-rock sound that borders on club music at times.

Arrlo Photo Credit Taquan Rodgers insta: (@shotbytaquanofficial)

Photo Credit - Taquan Rodgers - Instagram @shotbytaquanofficial

I have a feeling that them playing their set was a bit of relief for them as they had been running around working sound, helping vendors, making sure the bands all were squared away and that the venue was being taken care of as well.

And, of course, the ONE time in the whole evening when there was a more than minor sound issue happened when one of the speakers in the overheads sound system seemed to blow out or just have loose wiring as for most of their set a crackling sound could be heard.

Arrlo Photo Credit - Taquan Rodgers - Instagram @shotbytaquanofficial

Photo Credit - Taquan Rodgers - Instagram @shotbytaquanofficial

Fortunately for the band, they play with in-ear monitors, so it didn’t affect their performance, and even when the band does have sound or technical issues, they are pretty good about keeping things moving without making an issue about it.

Unfortunately for the crowd, the issue wasn’t fixed until after their set which made for a less than ideal experience. However, for fans that were really close to the stage, it was less noticeable than for people standing out in the vendor area.

Most local fans know that if they see the band Pure Sport on the lineup, that it is a bit of a license to have as much fun as you possibly can in one 30-minute period. The band has a unique way of commanding a crowd that has propelled them to the top of the Vegas music scene in a very short time.

Fans are dedicated to the “company” (as Pure Sport’s brand is that of a business with fans being their “employees”), and when the band gets on stage, they are ready to immediately start the party.

The band and their fans are all about fun and positivity while straddling the line of a “hardcore” sound. Thus they create a pretty perfect storm of chaos, enjoyment, fun, and unity. Fans have embraced them.

Photo Credit - Taquan Rodgers - Instagram @shotbytaquanofficial

The band had just released their brand new EP “Bigger Business” which is an absolute banger all the way through, and they accompanied it with a music video for the fan favorite song, “Waterboy.”

That’s important to note, because after the band played their first two songs, they went into playing “Waterboy” which got the crowd going nuts, and right as the song ended, it became apparent that there was an issue in the crowd.

A fan, who later was identified as Daisy, had dislocated her knee in the process of dancing with the crowd. As far as anyone could tell (and I was standing mere feet away from her), the situation was just a freak injury with no violence or ill-intent causing it.

Pure Sport Photo Credit - Taquan Rodgers - Instagram @shotbytaquanofficial

Lead singer Jared Scott almost immediately recognized something was wrong and stopped the show to check on the situation. When it was discovered that paramedics would be required, the band asked everyone to give Daisy some space while everyone waited patiently to get her the care she needed to get safely out of the venue.

It took about 30 minutes to get paramedics on the scene and get her safely to the ambulance, and it did leave event staff scrambling to figure out what to do next as Pure Sport knew that their full set was not possible with time constraints on the venue.

After some conversations, Pure Sport played a final song, a cover of Turnstile’s “Black Out” with Gregory Weston the bassist from Desert Island Boys providing the vocals, and that song went incredibly hard, but the fans had been instructed by the band keep each other safe during the song which had fans about two rows deep standing with arms draped around each other moving and hopping to the song instead of moshing.

Elevated Undergrounds, the Vegas indie-grunge act, came up afterwards, and while their set does have a lot of theatrical elements and can also hype a crowd, the band took the vibe from after the incident and played into creating a safe and entertaining show.

Photo Credit - Taquan Rodgers - Instagram @shotbytaquanofficial

That does NOT mean that they didn’t bring energy and excitement. Not at all. Guitarist Fez Reyes is known for getting a bit wild, and as is part of his personal tradition, at some point in the set, his shirt comes off, and then you will see him run around the venue.

This time, he ended up playing guitar over the balcony of the VIP area where the bands had a bit of a green room giving the crowd a show all his own.

Throughout the set, lead singer Gabbi Fisher could be seen crawling, contorting herself and performing to the music in a way that showcases her dancing and acting as much as her singing.

The festival ended with hip-hop act Project CXDY taking the stage and playing the night out with their performance. It was my first time seeing them live, and while I am not necessarily a fan of hip-hop (hence the Powered By Rock name), I can always appreciate the lyrical formulation, the message and the use of uncommon vocabulary that hip-hop creates and inspires.

The group definitely had a healthy set of fans still hanging with them through their set, and they did the festival justice as the closing act for sure.

The canned food drive ended up overflowing with donations that the festival coordinators brought to the Solidarity Fridge and filled it up.

There were definitely some lessons to be learned from the first-time event, but the whole thing was a huge success, and I can’t wait to see it come around again next year.

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