Friday, Feb. 27, 2009 | 6:06 p.m.
In the wake of Jillian’s closure, new music venues seem to be coming out of the woodwork. The 305 Club opened and restaurants like Casa di Amore have been hosting live shows. While we appreciate local musicians’ willingness to cram onto a tiny stage while waiters ferry pasta dishes past and restaurants’ willingness to allow said bands onto their stages, it’s high time Vegas had a dedicated all-ages venue that is all about the music. Tracy Rader hopes his new venue, The Farm, will be the answer to the underage crowd’s prayers.
A veteran drummer, sound technician and promoter who has lived in Las Vegas for 41 years, Rader decided to try his luck at opening a music venue in his hometown. He found his location in a building that until recently housed an arcade.
“I think [the arcade manager] had a problem with truancy during the day and he started getting tickets from truancy officers daily. So he’s like, ‘Screw this. I’m outta here.’”
His loss was Rader’s gain. Coming from a family of musicians (his nephew plays in local band Parody), Rader wants to return the emphasis to the music. When I called him to discuss the new venue, he told me an impromptu show was going on that very evening, one of a handful of unadvertised gigs to help “tune the room” since The Farm opened its doors on February 13.
Arriving at The Farm, located at 5597 S. Rainbow Boulevard just north of Russell Road, signs on the outside of the venue broadcast its mission: "100 percent certified rock and roll."
Inside, a small crowd jammed to the sounds of Sector 7G (featuring former members of Infernal Racket) and Slow Children.
“Some bands needed a place to plug in,” Rader said by way of explanation. By the time the second band came on, however, a modest crowd of 15 to 20 people had trickled in to catch their friends perform.
Unlike smaller music spaces around town, The Farm is a large room with tremendous acoustics and the feel of a real concert hall. Rader, who looks like Jerry Garcia on a strict diet, personally mans the impressive looking soundboard.
“This is a room built by musicians, for musicians,” he said.
As the bands performed, I heard him whisper, “Man, it sounds so good, just like a recording.”
This isn’t Rader’s first time around the block. Along with Ezzat Sullivan of SOS Records, Rader opened The Showcase in Corona, Calif., in 1994 and watched it thrive as a cornerstone of the all ages scene there for 15 years.
Now, Rader is applying some of the same strategies he used there at The Farm.
“Security is the foremost concern at a venue like this. You’ve got to make sure everybody understands that we’re on top of everything immediately.
“I don’t want any alcohol,” he added. “I just want it to be about the music. We’re band friendly here, that’s the whole point.”
Rader has already reached out to many Vegas bands and hopes the venue will be a hub for local musicians. The Farm’s green room, painted an electric lime color, already bears the marks of local mainstays like Ministry of Love and Think who have tagged the wall with scrawled pictures and signatures.
More Vegas bands will be added to the walls soon. Parody, Think, Verbaytm, Ashbury and The Higher will be performing live on March 7 for the official grand opening show, and on Friday, alt rockers Searchlight headline their CD release party with Lydia Vance, Collin Creek, I Am Thief and This City in Collision.
Off to a good start with his fledgling venue, Rader’s confidence is evident in the way he talks about The Farm and walks around his new haunt. It’s also clear in the first round of show ads for the venue: Virtually unadorned they state the bands’ names, the show dates and simply “The legend begins.”