My brother and I set out for this sure to be fun filled five day trip to Las Vegas to attend the very first ever Las Vegas Shakedown which took place on August 11-13, 2000. This was our first time flying & things went well, a short three hour flight from Kansas City and we were there. We checked into the Gold Coast shortly after touching down in Vegas right around 11 AM. We were both a little hung over from seeing the Murder City Devils put on one of the best shows ever at the Replay Lounge the night before.

DAY ONE: August 11th, 2000

The Shakedown took place at the Gold Coast where we were lucky enough to score a room for the week. The show was broken into two different rooms, the smaller (but still fairly big) show room on the first floor and the larger ballroom on the second floor. Highlights few and far between Monkey Wrench easily the best of the day. Early afternoon the Pinkz were the first band to play. Sloppy female pop punk with screw ups. Little did I know that this band featured a former member of one of my soon to be favorite bands (who I got into after the Shakedown) Loli & The Chones. Throw Rag- very good live washboard player with spoons, Demon swamp boogie reminiscent of the Cramps meets Black Flag. Cheater Slicks were droning noise although members of Mudhoney there to watch them. The Demonics strolled through casino in devil gear. The Stitches got the mics and the sound cut off before their final song (I guess because they played too long) but were finally allowed to finish. Vice Principles are the Humpers new band, they complained about the crowd their one and only album on Sympathy is OK, it was better than their live set. I guess you could say the Vice Principals equal Humpers lite. The Screws, are a Red Aunts/ Mick Collins effort that didn't do anything for me. Very bluesey shit w/ harmonica. The Fuzztones were an organ garage freak out with former member Jake of the Bomboras on hand. Nashville pussy showed up with a new bass player who did her best Cory Parks imitation. I left unimpressed & went back to room to rest before Holly Go Lightly was to go on at 1:00 AM but called it a night due to all the walking around we did through out the day. The two hour time difference from Kansas to Nevada played a big factor in the sleep factor ie: 1 AM Vegas time equals 3 AM Kansas time. I missed the crazy freak out of the Weaklings and their bottle throwing, chest gashing, mayhem. Saw members of various bands hanging out all day. I talked with Steve Turner and Tom Price at bar and asked both about the status of their bands. Steve informed me that Mudhoney was still together, and Tom said that Gas Huffer was not touring any more.


Outside Caesars's Palace


DAY TWO: August 12th, 2000

Wongs started the day a put on the best show followed by New Bomb Turks as far as a great performance. Wongs very energetic & very drunk. Guitar player Ryan (who is actually the drummer) freaked out when he lost his guitar strap, he threw down his guitar, grabbed a microphone and dove into the crowd while smashing his forehead with the mic GG style until he bled. They then burst into a GG cover ( I can’t remember which song). We interviewed the Wongs after their set in the casino in front of the show room. We Ran into Brain & Paul of the Catheters at the Gold Coast Buffet, they remembered us from two days prior when we interviewed them in Lawrence, Kansas. Later the Catheters put on another great show followed by the Valentine Killers who I always thought sounded better on CD. Caught small portions of the Leaving Trains, Dragons, Lords of Altamont, Donnas.The Dragons sounded good, Lords Of Altamont had former members of the Bomboras in the band, organ rock with vocals, they proceeded to set the organ on fire towards the end of their set. The Flesh Eaters were good and they even played some Divine Horsemen tunes. The New Bomb Turks played a ton of older songs. Eric went nuts with his usual stage antics of grabbing hats & glasses off of people in the crowd and wearing them on stage. Saw the Murder City Devils bowl in the huge bowling alley in the Hotel and later we caught up with Spencer at the bar in the casino and did and interview with him. During the interview Mark Arm came up to say hello. Other tidbits: the Donnas—usual crap, the Gimmicks (although I liked their first CD) were kinda boring, the Yo Yo’s had the worst sound of the entire weekend both musically and technically as their was some sort of problem with the PA. The Reds got stuck playing dead last at 3 AM and had the same sound problems that troubled the Yo Yo’s, they pulled through and played an energetic set.


DAY THREE: August 13, 2000

Decided to attend a free show at the legendary Double Down Saloon with the Dirty Looks, Reds, Gimmicks, and the Wongs. The Reds and the Wongs being the best. The Reds put on a much better show than the night before and I got a chance to buy their album. With the stellar line-up in the Ballroom it meant that I spent virtually all day there and missed most of the bands in the Showroom. I really wanted to check the Von Zippers but missed them while eating at the cheeseburger place in the Gold Coast. Most bands only got 30 minutes to play. Got to see part of the Bobbyteens, they were all right but noting special. Murder City Devils were great as ever. The goons from the Yo Yo’s tackled Spencer during the Devils set because it was the end of their tour together. I found out later that the Yo Yo’s couldn’t afford a hotel room so they spent the entire weekend hanging out at the bar in the Gold Coast. I should have know because every time I walked by they were there. I saw Sal from Electric Frankenstein selling merch near the entrance of the ballroom and I quickly made my way over and introduced myself and asked him if he was interested in doing an interview. Sal agreed and we proceed to the casino area outside of the ballroom which was filled with a mix of noisy slot machines and punks in black shirts. Sal is in many ways comparable to Gene Simmons from Kiss, both look like they could beat the shit out of you for looking at them cross-eyed, but both are soft spoken guys who always speak passionately about their music and the business that follows it. I’ve seen countless interviews with Simmons where he hawks everything Kiss related, Sal on the other hand while speaking about the many projects he was involved with took the time to hype all of the bands he was into. Sal was launching the “Fist Full Of Rock” compilations where tons of bands got a shot at National attention even though some have plenty. I was really looking forward to the chance to see & interview E.F. as they rarely tour & thus probably will never play in Kansas. The interview went well & their set was even better than expected, they played all of their “hit songs” as well as some newer material. I managed to catch a few numbers from The Lazy Cowgirls whom I never really been a big fan of. The Real Kids sounded really good live @ I guess they were all (with the exception of the bass player) original members. The plowed through their hits and put on a good show, I still love “All Kindsa Girls”. The final band in the ballroom was the infamous Dictators. Manitoba ranted about how boring Vegas is and how lame bands like Rage Against The Machine @ Limp Bizkit are. Halfway through the set Manitoba was telling a story about a cookout and how he took the hamburger flipper from his grandma and pushed her down because she wouldn't fix them the way he wanted them. It was hilarious, you had to be there. I think he might have even mentioned the bar he owns in New York a few times. The Dictators even played some tunes from the Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom album. Their set was a lot better than expected and the crowd really was amped up. After their set the final band of the night was supposed to be the Hookers but for some reason they were a no show (as far as I know they were the only band in the line up to cancel). Motochrist took the Hookers spot and blast away some punk covers including a bad attempt of a Ramones cover with Texas Terri joining in on vocals. The rest is just one long drunken, sun burnt haze.

Electric Frankenstein

Murder City Devils

Steve Turner & Tom Price (Monkeywrench)

Shakedown MC Johnny Legend & friend

The Strip



Some interesting notes of the Shakedown include: there was no Harp to be found at any casino that I was in so I got stuck drinking Heineken most of the weekend. Lots and lots of hipsters with black hair and tattoos. There was some Gummo looking goon who wore women’s clothes all weekend, there was a shriveled up punk rocker in wheel chair who we dubbed “Little Stiv” (as if Stiv Bators had not died as the result of being hit by a car but just stuck in a wheelchair), tons of dorks drank out of boots. The Gold Coast was a strange site indeed with a few thousand punk rockers there for the Shakedown mixed with hundreds of senior citizens there for the gambling. The hotel was a virtual ghost town on Monday as almost all of the punks had cleared out. On Monday I overheard a woman on the Shuttle bus talk about all the chaos that had ensued during the weekend. She mentioned something about people bathrooms & that the Gold Coast would not have the Shakedown back, only the Rock-a-billy weekender that the same promoters throw every year. She did however say that most of the people that she met who were attending the Shakedown were, “The nicest people”. Later in the day I blew some money in the Virgin Megastore inside Ceasar’s Palace as it was the only place worth shopping at in the whole casino. At night there were too many tourists blocking the volcano in front of the Mirage to get a good look at it, I’ve always seen it on TV and wanted to check it out, same goes for the pirate show in front of Treasure Island, just way too many people to get a good look. Some regrets about the trip include not being able to see the Chuck Berry/Little Richard show, not getting to see the really seedy side of Vegas, although I came close near the Stratosphere. Missed the famous “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign, missed the Elvis museum, and missed a lot of chances to talk with people in the scene. There were tons of people from various bands, labels, zines, etc. Everyday you could see the guys from Gearhead magazine, or Greg Lowery from Rip Off Records, or Tim Kerr from the Monkey Wrench just walking around. Missed opportunities to photograph a lot of bands & didn’t even get any pictures of bands the first day. Some of the tourist junk that my brother and I did were visiting the Statosphere, the Paris hotel with a trip to the top of the fake Eifel tower, a $10 roller coaster ride at New York, New York which was rough as hell. All the expected things were happening in town that weekend, Tom Jones and Wayne Newton were town along with George Carlin, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Blue Man group, hell there was even a prize fight (can’t remember who though). Vegas looks so fun and glamorous on television but it’s actually kind of boring after you get over the first few days there. I felt that it was depressing and unflattering at times. The feeling of “Sin City” wasn’t there except for the fact that you pretty much drink and smoke wherever the hell you wanted. Every where you looked it seemed like a constant barrage of new construction was taking place, even inside casinos that had been around for some time. There was also a feeling that most of the stuff on the main strip was less than five to seven years old, even though that is not entirely true, there were a lot of newer hotel/casinos primarily on the strip like Paris, Bellagio, The Venitian, New York, New York,The Aladdin (which they were still a month or two away from opening at the time). Transportation was kind of a headache, you either took expensive taxis or learned the routes of the free shuttle buses or trams and how they could get you from one casino to the next. A lot of the stuff on the strip is spread out over a two or three mile span so walking in the 110 degree heat wasn’t fun, oh and have I told you about the flyer goons on every corner? Basically on every street corner there is a group of about five to ten Mexicans who speak no English that tap flyers (promoting porn or escort services) against their hands until some one walks by and they try to hand it to them. All in all the Shakedown was a good reason to make the trip to Las Vegas as I doubt I’d ever travel there just to gamble. The Shakedown was very entertaining but also overwhelming, there was no possible way to see every band that you’d want to. The best part about it was getting a chance to see bands that don’t tour much or bands that would never make it to Kansas like the Wongs, Electric Frankenstein, Throw Rag (I take that back they’ve since played here three time), the Pinkz, Real Kids, Dictators, Zodiac Killers, Monkey Wrench, etc. Overall the Shakedown had a good turn out I believe it was at or above two thousand people at one point from all over the world. You really got a chance to see how much influence the Ramones had on the music world.

The Las Vegas Shakedown happened at the right time when all the bands and this type of music is extremely popular. Fans are ready for the Shakedown & as long as they have a good line up I’ll be going back. One of the best things about this event was that it seemed very organized, the bands (usually) went on when they were scheduled & to my knowledge only one band canceled that being the Hookers. The worst thing about the event was the fact that most bands only got about a half an hour to play, they were constantly asking how much time they had left. Some bands however did get longer slots like Dead Moon, the Dictators, and a few others did get to play longer. For a band that you want to see more of due to lack of touring it would have been nice to get to see a longer set, Electric Frankenstein in particular should have gotten a lest 45 minutes to an hour. I can see where the so called “headliner bands” would get more time, but who really were the “headliners”? Small bands usually got stuck with the 3 AM clean up slots, take the Reds for example who had to battle not only a horrible time slot but also tons of sound problems. I also found out later that a lot of the smaller bands did not get paid & some had to pound on the door of the promoter to get any money in the end.

Postscipt: According to various accounts the actions of some of the people who attended/stayed at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino during the Las Vegas Shakedown led to upward of ten thousand dollars in damages to the hotel. Reports of rooms and elevators being vandalized as well as indecent and illegal activities were a black eye to those of us who enjoyed the event and would do nothing to jeopardize the possibility of future Shakedowns at the Gold Coast.

As many of you know the Shakedown the next year was marred due to the events of September 11, 2001, many bands canceled due to flight problems and the line-up changed several times from it’s initial announcement. The event went on at the Huntridge Theatre in Las Vegas, I was not present. There was no Shakedown in 2002. In 2003 the third Shakedown event was held in Los Angeles. Due to the fact that the venue had been changed several times since it’s announcement I was skeptical about attending. I tried convincing myself to go even two weeks before the event but I backed out. After the event I found out the show was moved to two different venues and that several ticket holders were forced to wait in line for hours only to not be able to get into the venues at all. Who knows what the future holds for the possibility of any more Shakedowns, one thing that I know for sure I'm going back to the Chicago Blackout this year & I know it’ll be great!