Double decade: The Double Down turns 20, and its past and present performers look back fondly on the dive bar’s most memorable music moments
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We’re a little surprised the Double Down is still around 20 years later. Not because it’s a doomed business — one of the only real-deal punk rock dives in town, it’s a beacon of pukey light — but because, from the fights and pits alone, it should’ve fallen down faster than a football-player frat house. But somehow it’s survived. We couldn’t be happier. And neither could these local musicians and Double Down frequents, each of whom share their favorite gigs at The Happiest Place on Earth.
JESSE AMOROSO, CYANIDE BLUES
Around 1994. My band Cyanide Blues, Bone Crusher [from L.A.] and China White. Juke Box Productions was doing shows there. A huge fight breaks out. This was still in my drinking days. [Doorman/promoter] Gio tells me to watch the cash box and hands me a stun gun. Well, the fight involves about a dozen people at this point and they are all in the little doorway bumping into the cash box, and since I am watching the cash box I just start zapping people with the stun gun. Well, at some point it all ends up out front in the parking lot. The fight now is getting pretty out of control and even guys from Bonecrusher are outside.
Let me give a bit of info on Bonecrusher … their roadie was fresh out of the California state corrections system. Pretty bad bunch of guys. As I get out of the door, someone grabs me and is about to punch me or do some sort of harm — when all of the sudden, he is gone. I look up and Bonecrusher’s roadie has the guy by his neck and, well, groin. [He] holds the guy above his head WWF-style and throws the guy to about the middle of the parking lot from the top of the stairs.
JAMES HOWARD ADAMS, DANGERBONER
Lead singer Joel Urioste cut off a large chunk of my hair mid-performance while bursting fake blood packets all over me. People weren’t sure if they wanted to shake my “bloodied” hand after the show because they thought he really cut me. It was one of our best shows.
JESSE DEL QUADRO, THEE SWANK BASTARDS
The first time we played the Double Down, it was 2002 or 2003. About three-fourths of the way through the set, we went into “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath. The song is only about three minutes long, but three separate fights broke out in that time.
Then there was lesbian night. There were five or six lesbian couples all dancing and grinding and making out during our set. It was awesome. We got the nickname “the Marvin Gaye of surf music” that night.
There was also the calendar release night a few years ago, when one of the models decided she didn’t like Moss taking pictures and she shoved him. The chick was too dumb (or drunk) to leave and three or four different girls had to be held back by their boyfriends or security until the chick finally got off the porch.
There was also the night I drank 14 shots of Jagermeister and played until the band was tired of playing. So I decided to start doing vocal tunes by myself while they packed up. They kept turning the PA off and fucking with me while they loaded out. I kept going for about 45 minutes until I was too drunk to remember words.
We had two different drummers show up more than once tripping on mushrooms. Those were some interesting shows. We have been playing there at least once a month (usually two or three times) for about 10 years. We have done more than 100 shows at the Double Down, and that’s not even counting the shows before we started keeping records in 2004.
DIRK VERMIN, THE VERMIN
It was a Tuesday night and it was a wedding reception for a friend of ours down from L.A. That was the craziest because most of us don’t remember most of the night. We kept taking shots on stage, Ruckus didn’t want to play because he had to get up early to work the next morning, and then as the shots kept coming on stage we just got more and more drunk. By the end of the set, they had to turn my amp off. I’m playing half naked on the pool table, on my back, thinking I’m Ted Nugent or something. The bridesmaid whispers in my ear onstage — I didn’t realize she was there with her man — “I wanna fuck you.” (Can you put that in the paper?) So of course I announce it to the entire audience, “Ladies and gentlemen, the bridesmaid wants to fuck me.” So then her boyfriend is sitting right there. He gets mad, leaves the place, goes back to McCarran and flies back to California. That’s the little part of the night I remember.
The thing with The Vermin and The Double Down, it feels like we’re playing home. I can’t think of many bad shows we’ve had there. If you’ve seen us there, it’s all remarkably similar. It’s the same songs, the same jokes, the same debauchery. We get on stage, we talk too much shit, we get trashed and we hit on women.
DAVID ROSEN AKA JEWISH DAVE
The only truly horrible MC Randumb and Jewish Dave show (that wasn’t terrible on purpose) was at The Double Down. Normally I’m more of the straight man who keeps things on track, but I was wasted that night and couldn’t make it through two lines. Then Randumb knocked over his mic stand and before the first chorus the music stopped and it was over. Kind of the perfect place for us to have that kind of night, though.
MICAH MAYHEM, THE QUITTERS
This had to have happened back in 2006. The Quitters were playing pretty late, probably past 1 a.m., and we were winding down our set. The crowd was rowdy and slamming each other accordingly, impossible to ignore. During our last song, we notice that halfway through there’s a sudden halt to the action. … We observe that there is a little person pushing around in the mosh pit. It was Wee Man from Jackass! Once the celebrity sighting wore off, the pit continued till we finished.
The Quitters began packing our stuff up and loading out, and we notice that it’s not just Wee Man there, but Steve-O and Chris Pontius, as well (Steve-O ran into the sick bathroom with a random chick almost immediately after walking through the door).
So I am in and out of the door myself, getting my drums broken down, and upon one return trip, Wee Man is standing on what The Double Down so graciously calls a stage next to what’s left of my equipment. He’s super drunk and loving all the attention, so of course he wants to entertain whoever is watching. With that, he unzips, and proceeds to weak-stream some piss onto the side of my bass drum! Our guitar player, Tom, sees this and tries to pull Wee Man away, but only manages to pull back Wee Man’s shoulders, causing the stream to arc, and subsequently cover more of my bass drum.
All I could do was just stand there and watch it happen like it was on TV. On one hand, it was funny; I loved the Jackass show and the movies. On the other hand, some asshole little person was pissing on my drums! I got some paper towels from the bathroom and me and some friends cleaned up as best we could, and finished packing up. I double checked the stage one last time before leaving, and on my final way out, I see Wee Man on the bar … naked. What a night!
ASAKO WATANABE, THE HEIZ (VIA GOOGLE TRANSLATE)
The Heiz U.S. tour in 2009 was the toughest tour for us ever. Fifty cities, 37 venues in three months! We started the tour from Double Down Saloon. I’ve already known that DDS and its family give us power and love. That was the reason. After the last show of the tour, we took a break in Philadelphia. But we really wanted to be back in DDS, absolutely, we wanted to say “I’m home” to DDS family who really loves rock ’n’ roll. We were on an airplane to Las Vegas without noticing.
DDS is second home for The Heiz. If we never know that happiest place on the Earth, we might have quit the rock ’n’ roll.
TJ FOGERTY, SKORCHAMENZA, THE PERVS
Here are my crowning achievements: Smashing more than $1,000 worth of guitars over the course of a year (at $69 a Fender Squire). Having Moss tell me we were too loud even by the DD’s standards made me feel like Pete fucking Townshend. Performing over a dozen plus times with The Pervz (the best band Vegas ever forgot about). We performed at the House of Blues and threw an afterparty at the DD, and The Circle Jerks showed up. Because I used to walk on the tables during shows, I’ve probably had my dick touched hundreds of times by women, men and man-women. That place was the only place I ever wanted to play. The Double Down was the most unpretentious spot in Vegas. There was always a crowd, and they were easy to please. You just had to not suck. But they would move for you.
FRANK KLEPACKI, THE BITTERS
I remember doing the first show with The Bitters there thinking we would be so far out there as a prog-infused group that it could totally bomb. Quite the contrary, we got surprisingly loud applause and have been well recieved performing there regularly.
FELONY MELONY, THE OBJEX
I was hanging out at the Double Down with my bandmates after a show one night. An argument broke out over women’s pain and suffering to be beautiful, which led to the topic of waxing. At that point my guitar player, James Nasty, called bullshit on how much it hurts and volunteered to be waxed on the spot. So my friend Monique went to Walgreens to buy two waxing kits to prove him wrong. She gave him a Brazilian wax in the girls’ bathroom of the Double Down. I filmed the whole thing. I laughed so hard every time he screamed when she ripped the waxing strips off his genitalia. We posted the video on YouTube. It got 15,000 hits in 24 hours before YouTube pulled it off their site for inappropriate content.
To this day, James still runs into people who know him as the ball-wax guy. The Double Down is the only place on Earth where you can have complete, unadulterated fun.
DOUBLE DOWN 20TH ANNIVERSARY WEEKEND The Nines (Nov. 22, 10 p.m.), The Heiz, The Gashers, Thee Swank Bastards, others (Nov. 23, 10 p.m.), The Boss Martians, The Vermin, Bloodcocks R US, others (Nov. 24, 10 p.m.), Uberschall (Nov. 25, midnight); Double Down, 4640 Paradise Road, www.doubledownsaloon.com, free.