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Images: Tartar Control, Left Alone, The Henchmen and more April 29, 2016 at The Bunkhouse Saloon (Punk Rock BBQ)

Punk Rock and BBQ are two of my five favorite things, so it wasn’t hard to accept the invite to sponsor and cover the Punk Rock BBQ at Bunkhouse, which was put on by Viva Ska Radio. The promise of good tunes and pulled pork was enough for me to relent on my cardinal rule, that any show with more than 6 bands, or less than 30, is doing it wrong. And many agreed to make this exception, as sales of extra stiff hair gel spiked like it was PRB weekend, mohawks fighting gravity and the sudden downpour taking place outside the venue as the night kicked off.

Things started at a quarter past 8 with Guts, and it quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t be hearing “I Left My Cape at Home” or “Ogden Avenue.” No, this wasn’t Vegas’ Guts but another band that shares the name from Denver, made up of members of the now-defunct ska band The A-Oks. Despite this confusion, the band quickly won my heart with a cover of Joyce Manor’s “Catalina Fight Song” because if you like Joyce Manor, you’re cool in my book.

I was starting to get hungry, but due to a behind the scenes miscommunication, the BBQ portion was nonexistent. The visions of burgers and ribs dancing in my head came crashing down with the realization that the only food available was deviled eggs and Frito pie. “Go to Savers and buy a grill” suggested locals Jerk!, who were up next and one of the night’s early highlights. While the vocals are reminiscent of early Anti Flag, the music is pure Ramonescore, and these guys would be perfect for a show with TBR or The Copyrights. The band even included a faithful cover of one of my favorite Ramones tracks – “Rockaway Beach” – for good measure.

Many bands featured upright basses but only one was first – Yosemite Slam! I enjoyed the band’s confidence, announcing their presence by growling “How the hell are you doing” louder than my empty stomach, like they were headlining the House of Blues, not to a near empty Bunkhouse floor. The band was like Lemmy reincarnated as Brian Setzer, and they cemented this fact by playing a cover of Motörhead’s “Ace Of Spades.”

California’s Sic Waiting were up next  (though the members come from multiple places) and it made me realize that it’s been a pretty long time since I last saw the band play in full (I’ve been to numerous shows for the frontman’s singer/songwriter project Dead Frets). Plugged in, the band sounds like the best of first wave Fat Wreck, with Blake Kardashian (also of DC Fallout) shredding the guitar like he was trying out for Strung Out.

Sic Waiting drummer Dave Bartlett didn’t need to go far after the set, as he was also drumming for veteran Vegas punks Guilty By Association. Unlike many bands, it’s easy to see their drummer as frontman Mike Janoff spent the bulk of his band’s set in the pit. GBA’s cover song of choice is Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” a cynical look at the music industry and somewhat fitting for a band that plays a style firmly rooted in 80s and 90s punk ethos.

As Friday became Saturday, The Henchmen took the stage. The band is a sort of a psychobilly/surf rock hybrid, with an upright bass and guitar work that could score a Tarantino film. The band played fast and with little banter but with a pocket of fans pitting the whole time.

By the time California ska/punk act Left Alone sang “I’m so tired of wasting away,” all I heard was “I’m so tired.” The night was running quite a bit behind at this point, with the band pointing out that they’d be following up the show with breakfast. But even at this hour, there were still a large collection of mohawked locals dancing and singing along with the band, whose ska-infused punk songs and chorus that feature all three vocalists recall their label mates Rancid.

“Welcome to a slumber party you didn’t know you were attending” exclaimed Tartar Control when they took the stage at a quarter past 2 a.m. The band may have been going on over an hour late, but they had the energy of a band playing an afternoon show after six cups of coffee (of course, they’d never drink that devil juice), and frontman Robert Selander’s guttural screams were certainly more effective than any alarm clock ever could be.

I think the band can best be described as vintage Black Flag… if Henry Rollins found his funny bone, with Selander yelling his head off from the stage, from the crowd, and even upside down from the ceiling at one point. All decked out in Mormon missionary gear, Selander, along with guitarist/vocalist Sean Hart and a multi-instrumentalist robot named Robot blasted through a set that included “Jesus is Love,” “My God’s Cock” and “Peach Cobbler Party,” the latter featuring an impromptu wrestling match between two fans. It was a long night, but it was worth it to witness the spectacle that is Tartar Control.

-Steven Matview