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Passion pits: a review of mosh-lite music shows

Bob Cane of Rhyme N Rhythm performs during “The Elements” hip-hop showcase at the House of Blues. PHOTO: BILL HUGHES
Bob Cane of Rhyme N Rhythm performs during “The Elements” hip-hop showcase at the House of Blues. PHOTO: BILL HUGHES

Rhyme N Rhythm:

The Elements Showcase

July 19 at House of Blues

Rhyme N Rhythm celebrated another successful “The Elements” hip-hop showcase. For the unfamiliar, the show is named for this sort of earth/wind/fire concept of “true” hip-hop. How hip-hop isn’t just the words that come out of monitors, but rather all the other parts that really define hip-hop as a culture versus a genre. And it was there July 19. Our runner-up favorites: The curiously midwestern style of Ekoh, who reminded us of later-era Atmosphere, and the Runaway Tribe break-dancing crew, which we’d vote to watch over almost any Cirque show on the Strip.

But Rhyme N Rhythm, appropriately, were the climax of the night. The drums opened with a hi-hat pattern. The bass and keys fell in with the guitar. At its breaking point, Jerry Wayne half skipped, half sprinted from offstage to front and center, shouting the opening lines of “Natural Disasters” as the sound crashed down around him, paving the way for Freddy Tiff, A-1ne and Bob Cane to join the verbal fray. Standing in front of the monitor during the chorus of “This Track Right Here” felt like getting slowly pushed into the floor by a mattress. The audience cheered during a cover of Andre 3000’s “Prototype” and louder during Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone” — emphatically so by the women in the audience. When they closed the night with “Ridiculous,” the rhythm section didn’t just play the uproarious chorus. It inhabited it. And it’s in that chorus that a bafflingly on-beat, curiously polite but still enthusiastic mosh pit broke out in the center of the floor. The whole night had been building to this point, in which a group of mostly unfamiliar faces sweat out their button-up shirts. And that’s what The Elements is for. MAX PLENKE

The Dirty Panties

July 20 at the Double Down

When I first wrote about new Vegas punk record label SquidHat Records signing The Dirty Panties back in June, I was a little skeptical. The last time I saw the girl punk quartet was June 2010, at the first 18b Music Festival. And while they were OK, I certainly wouldn’t have pegged them as the first to get picked off the line. But after seeing them at the CD release party at the Double Down for their album I Am A Robot, I trust label head Allan Carter’s taste.

This wasn’t the same loose, unrehearsed band I saw two years ago. These Dirty Panties were freeze-dried, packed so tight even the blast beats were synched to a T. Kayley “Animal” Malcolm rotated in and out of fast one-two-one-two and more rhythmically complex patterns with the smooth easiness of smoke rising to the stickered ceiling. Melanie Ash sang fast and hard, close enough to the older, bespectacled and tattooed audience to spit in its cheering mouths (and probably did during the crowd favorite “Fuck You Motherfucker”).

And as they comfortably strolled through a punked-up cover of “Money (That’s What I Want)” (The Flying Lizards version), SquidHat’s early infatuation for the band was quickly explained. This isn’t grating, compensating riot grrl punk. It’s tonally digestible, but balanced with gang choruses to keep the hard edge. It produces mosh pits, but ones that are more fun than cantankerous — which happens to be a perfect way to describe The Dirty Panties. MAX PLENKE

Face to Face

July 20 at the Cheyenne Saloon

Face to Face barely promoted its once-polarizing 1999 album, Ignorance is Bliss. The line for years has been the SoCal band can’t work its material into an otherwise fast-paced punk show required by its discography and preferred by its devotees, most of whom loathed the record. Fast forward 13 years, and Ignorance has become to Face to Face what Pinkerton is to Weezer: the slow-cooked aberration to which most of its fan base has not only come around, but become quite attached. When Keith casually asked his Facebook followers if they’d like to see a show with a full acoustic performance of Ignorance, the fans responded so positively that he and his bassist/vocalist bandmate, Scott Shiflett, booked a full tour. What a turnaround — and a vindication for the band.

Unfortunately, Keith came alone to Las Vegas on July 20, telling a crowd of about 100 that Shiflett missed his flight. He made up for the lost guitar and harmonies, though, with an impassioned solo reading of most of the album, even braving thicker compositions like the hyperactive “I Know What You Are,” filling in Shiflett’s guitar and voice with some performance gusto. He only played 10 of the 13 tracks, citing how he couldn’t do the remaining three proper justice without the other guitarist, but made up for it by playing a rarity and three FTF chestnuts before calling it a night.

A few fans left the bar looking a little disappointed. I might’ve been, too, except that Keith sounded great, especially vocally. His performance was enough to let me revisit a period for which I have a little nostalgia, while still allowing me to concentrate on the novelty of the alternative arrangements the show offered — as well as the enthusiasm and evocation the singer projected. For every time I remembered how much the songs meant to me, he reminded me that they mean an awful lot to him, too. MIKE PREVATT