The Dickies, Throw Rag and The Dwarves @The Doubledown Saloon



Doubledown Saloon

Las Vegas

The Doubledown Saloon, in case you’re unaware of it, is indisputably one of the finest dive bars in the world, and tonight they celebrate their 25th anniversary in style, with a line-up that could easily fill one of those fancy venues at the drop of a hat. Except you’d have to pay to get in. And pay those fancy bar prices. And it would close at a reasonable hour…

That’s right; it’s free to get in (as always), the drinks are cheap (as always), and they’re open (yeah, as always) until you can’t stand up anymore. And as such, this show has been carved in stone on the calendar since the day it was announced, to be superseded only by family funerals. And even then it would have to be really close family! Maybe leaving something cool in the will.

The Dwarves are up first, hitting the big, parking lot stage after a young lady has done strange things with an angle grinder and broken glass. Unfortunately, masked lunatic Hewhocannotbenamed is missing from their ranks tonight, which makes it slightly safer to stand at the front but means that they’re lacking a little firepower. Not that Mark Diamond, aka The Fresh Prince Of Darkness, isn’t an outstanding guitarist, it’s just that two guitars sound better than one.

Indeed, The Dwarves, if we’re being entirely honest, are not on their best form tonight, still great, just not brilliant. Even on a rare off night, they’re still vastly superior to pretty much any other band, punk or otherwise, but their best sets are jaw-dropping (and occasionally jaw-breaking). This one is not. Of course, all the hits are here, Unrepentant, Everybodies Girl, Sluts Of The USA… but somehow it never kicks into top gear. Then again, it probably doesn’t help that some idiot lands on my head about halfway through the set and I watch the rest from the back, because punching people is frowned upon.

But hey, this is a free show, so complaining about the difference between great and fantastic is kinda rude. Although, strangely enough, Throw Rag seem to be going through the same thing, never quite attaining the levels of warped genius we’ve become accustomed to. It’s another solid set and they’re always fun to watch, but somehow it’s not completely off the hook.

Again, we get all the classics, Swingset Superman, Beast In Me, Bag Of Glue, and more, it’s just that they’re usually better than this. After the set, frontman Sean Wheeler admits that he was never quite able to lose himself tonight, and maybe that was what made the difference. Who knows? It’s not like it would stop anyone from going to see them again. And again. And again.

And so to The Dickies, who, I must confess, are not among my favourite bands to begin with, but who, ironically, offer one of their better performances tonight. It’s subjective, of course, and perhaps as much to do with finally getting drunk rather than trying to pace the drinks so as not to get wasted too early, but guitarist Stan Lee, in particular, seems to be having a thoroughly great time, grinning from ear to ear, and such enthusiasm is infectious. And let’s face it, we all like The Dickies a bit more after they managed to offend the Warped tour’s PC brigade earlier this year. Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

And The Dickies are a joke; they play Banana Splits for Christ’s sake! Which, maybe, is the reason that they’re not a favourite band, because we’ve all heard the joke many, many times. Tonight, however, they tell it well. Fair play. Now let’s get back to those cheap drinks!

Having written for Kerrang! magazine since 1989, I started shooting for them, pretty much by accident, in the early 90’s when all their photographers refused to go on tour with my favourite punk band Poison Idea. With pretensions of being as good as Mark Leialoha and taller than Ross Halfin, I shot everyone from Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer and Slipknot to The Prodigy and was published all around the world (full-ish list in the ‘published in’ section) before stumbling into fetish and pin up photography in 2006 when I married Masuimi Max. I quit Kerrang! in 2008 and now shoot the rock stuff for Metal Hammer and Terrorizer.