Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rat City Ruckus 2014 (The Best Part of the Viva Las Vegas Weekend)


I've been living in Las Vegas for just over five years now and the weekend of Viva Las Vegas has quickly become one of my favorite times of the year. It isn't just the Viva Las Vegas event itself that excites the city, but it is this spirit of Viva Las Vegas that spreads like a welcome outbreak, inciting car shows and rockabilly music throughout the downtown area and across the strip. With major headlining rockabilly and psychobilly acts taking the stage at such large and well-known venues as the House of Blues and the Hard Rock Cafe there is hardly any way to avoid coming into contact with the neon dyed pompadours and goth rock themed poodle skirts that such music attracts.


While the actual Viva Las Vegas event takes place at the Orleans, just a few miles off the strip, it is the downtown area that really seems to embrace this colorful counterculture. Last night, Las Vegas Country Saloon hosted a group of rockabilly bands headlined by The Chop Tops and I have to say it was an excellent show. The Chop Tops were outstanding as always, but one of the best surprises of the night was a band called Gambler’s Mark.  I had never heard this band before and they quickly soared to the high end of my list of favorites.  I'm hoping to see a lot more from these guys in the future.  Even after this Friday night show, it was great just walking around on Fremont Street surrounded by the super cool styles of rockabilly and psychobilly fanatics.  The aesthetics of modern tattooing, hair dye, and horror punk pop art combined with the classic looks of the post WWII rockabilly and rock n roll style of dress and hair is one of my favorites to see en masse, and there is no better time or place for it than downtown Las Vegas during the Viva weekend!
The big event of the weekend downtown however is the Rat City Ruckus, taking place just across the street from the Stratosphere. An off the beaten path car show that continues to increase in size with every year, the Rat City Ruckus hosts many of the highly modified hot rod vehicles that do not qualify for the all original status of the Viva Las Vegas car show. This year featured a list of local celebrities including the folks from Kount’s Kustoms.  There were some excellent food vendors present (you have to try Hawg Dawg's spicy sausage) as well as some great classic rockabilly bands taking the main stage.If the cars themselves weren't enough, the event was provided with a slew of beautiful models to pose next to your favorite cars.  The Junkyard Pirates have always played a crucial role in the Rat City Ruckus event and they did not disappoint this year, so hats off to those fellas!  Try not to miss event this next year, because as history has shown here, the Rat City Ruckus only continues to improve and is quickly staking its claim as a mainstay of the Viva Las Vegas weekend!
Bu the day didn't end with the car show!  Las Vegas had so much going on over this weekend that it became a struggle within the self to decide what events to catch and what ones would simply have to wait until next year.  As a huge fan of burlesque shows, I managed to catch two of them in one night on April 19th (sorry I didn't catch photos of any of them, so you'll just have to use your imaginations).  The Sci-Fi Center hosted a Nerd-lesque show, which featured 8 femme fatales using comic book heroes as inspiration for their acts.  Well mostly.  In order to show that they were honoring all of our heroes, not just the fictitious kind, the first act was a red headed fighter pilot and she was fantastic.  She was shortly followed by The Crow, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Electra and others.  As a comic book fan myself, I found this to be an absolute blast!  Anyway, if your looking for more information on Burlesque shows in the Las Vegas area, burlesquelv.com is just one of the many places where you can go to find a calendar of upcoming events.
After the Sci-Fi Center, we made a beeline straight for The Beauty Bar on Fremont Street and managed to show up just in time for THEIR burlesque show to start with a troupe called Dirty Little Secrets from California.  These girls were hot, hot, hot and the shows were well choreographed.  I will recommend this show anytime!  The night was finished in the back of The Beauty Bar with an extended performance from one of my favorite Rockabilly/Punk bands, The Rockets!  These guys always put on a fun show and they do it without needing the help of any gimmicks.  These are just down to it good guys who pay as much attention to their audience as they do to their instruments, so they know how to make sure that everyone is having a good time while they keep putting out the good tunes.  There were three other bands originally scheduled to play with The Rockets, but with the good spirits these fellas have, they made up for the lost time by playing every damned tune they knew and I was not the least bit sorry for it!  This has been one of the best Viva Las Vegas weekends I've experienced since moving here.  Maybe one day I'll even make it to the main event, but with so much going on in the heart of downtown, maybe I won't even need to!