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November 23, 2014

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Beer, sweat and good times at Las Vegas Shakedown music festival

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Laura Davis

Lower Class Brats play Las Vegas Shakedown

It's 9 p.m. as I dash madly up the escalator of Hennessey's toward the Las Vegas Country Saloon on Sunday. According to the man at the door, they're running an hour behind. Convenient, considering Spindrift was scheduled for 8 p.m., and now I just might make it.

Passing the lifeless mechanical bull — the crowd drawn by this last night of the Las Vegas Shakedown festival isn't right for the bucking bronco — I arrive just as the spaghetti rockers are about to let loose their vortex of psychedelic sound. The crowd materializes, drawn to the Indian stage costumes and reverb-enhanced chants, enticing one audience member to return his own Indian howl.

When the set closes, I prepare to take off to the second Shakedown venue, Beauty Bar, but the announcer warns not to be hasty — Morlocks are next. Looks like Beauty Bar will have to wait.

Shortly, Morlocks' lead singer, Leighton Koizumi, prances onto the stage, sashaying with the mic stand and heckling the audience, attempting to rile them up for the band's high-energy act. To slight avail. "You're all supposed to be crazy, it's Shakedown!" Leighton insists, wide-eyed. "It's Sunday, right? We'll blame it on Jesus." Hey, people should be amped up; it's been nine years since the last Shakedown. And, by the end of the set, his contagious antics have rubbed off; fans spray Leighton with beer, then pass them along for him to swig.

I enter the Beauty Bar courtyard just in time to catch punk rockers Lower Class Brats ripping the crowd a new one with their heavy guitar riffs. The audience appears to have been transplanted from the Double Down — even the dive bar's infamous topless hula-hooper, Szandora, is in attendance. As the bandana'd guitarist sprays the crowd with sweat from his hardcore rock-out, you have to agree that this is one of those festivals worth the ticket price. It's not every day you get your eardrums blown out by psychedelic reverb, heckled by an over-the-top rock star and soaked in a sweat shower, all in just three hours time.

— Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly

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