On President’s Day night, Slow Crush made their stop in Vegas while on tour with Trauma Ray and Death Bells with a special opening by Las Vegas skramz band, Roman Candle. Eagle Aerie Hall was filled with shoegazers who had made the drive down to locally named “Hendertucky” for a gauzy reverbed dreamscape show.
Roman Candle, known for their droning take on skramz, concocted a galvanizing post-hardcore opening set. A mainstay in Vegas’s growing hardcore scene, the band recently released their first EP, Discount Fireworks, and opened for the sold-out Touché Amoré’s show. Veteran moshers quickly took the center front of the hall, while the rest of the crowd nodded along to the groaning live instrumental. Later in the night, Slow Crush praised Roman Candle for getting the crowd pumped for the rest of the acts. Roman Candle ended their set with two new songs, which Piper, their vocalist, adoringly named “Weiner Man 1” and “Weiner Man 2.”
Between the sets, I was able to talk to some of the audience members about what it is they find fascinating about shoegaze and what they themselves would recommend to newcomers to the music scene. In recent years, the genre has been making an explosive comeback in several major underground city music scenes. With a new generation of artists gazing at their pedals, the genre’s boundaries have been pushed as the signature distortive guitar texture is blended with elements of nu-metal, electronica, and twee-indie.
Outside the venue, Tavia and her boyfriend Brian were catching some air after the dense, dissonant, mosh atmosphere of Roman Candle.
Tavia (@tinycricket_): “I like the way it makes me feel, kind of disconnected from reality. It makes me feel like I’m dreaming in a way. It kind of has a soft, romantic kind of vibe. Honestly, it’s been since August since I’ve seen a shoegaze band here. In Vegas, it is so rare, no one really comes over here. I’ve been waiting for this for months. But, it’s been great! The people here are really cool. Vibes are good. It’s a little hot and musty in there [Eagle Aerie Hall] but I like it.
Honestly, it’s kind of basic, but I’d recommend ‘Allison by Slowdive.’ That’s what got me into it!”
Brian: “The show has been really nice so far. I really enjoyed the first band, the opening band [Roman Candle]. I really like how the show is going so far. I was listening to ‘Glow’ by Slow Crush. I mean it’s kind of basic, but I like it. There was another song called ‘Blue’ that I really liked.”
Up next was Trauma Ray from Fort Worth, Texas. Their soundscape is an enigmatic patchwork of 90s reminiscent alternative with a surrealist shoegaze attitude. Breaking out into the larger scene with their EP, [trauma ray], and their newest EP release, Transmissions, their set was heavy and their guitar riffs vibrated the air while the crowd swayed back and forth in a trance. The trajectory of their set was filled with steady tracks such as “WMD,” along with lighter, more effervescent tracks such as “Blend.” With some bias, as this was one of my most played songs of 2022, “Relay” was the height of the set with its shrieking guitar riffs and lulling live vocals.
Near the entrance, I was able to talk to another crowd member, Sofia, and her group of friends while waiting for Death Bell’s upcoming set.
Sofia (@sofia.cloww): “Shoegaze I enjoy because it’s whimsical but controlled. It’s kind of like controlled chaos. I was bumping them [Trauma Ray]. I would say to recommend, either ‘Glow’ by Slow Crush or, just in general, ‘Bottom’ by McCafferty.”
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Death Bells brought a nostalgic flavor of the 2000’s post-punk revival to the Eagle Aerie crowd. The two-piece immediately ushered in a more energetic, sharper, tenebrous sonic landscape to the stage. Between Here & Everywhere, their newest album release is a more concise evolution from their earlier releases, but their auditory inspirations remain the same. With Channing’s heavy, profound voice and Vesilis’ touch of gauzy reverb to his guitar leads, the crowd was mesmerized into an evocative dance trance reminiscent of 80s dark wave.
Jesús, who was smoking outside after Death Bell’s set, came to the show alone primarily for Roman Candle and was appreciating his first experience of shoegaze’s palpability.
Jesús (@itsokimdead): “They’re all really good, but Death Bells was great. That set, I really enjoyed that. Like 80’s darkwave stuff, exactly… Does Deftones count as shoegaze? Then “Rosemary” for sure I’d recommend.”
The finalé of the night was Belgium-based Slow Crush, known for their ethereal, yet abrasive take on shoegaze. The room was filled with haze as the crowd poured in one final time, and the flickering lights set the gloomy dreamscape visuality, which was the perfect complement to Slow Crush’s almost otherworldly grunge. The pinnacle of the set was Isa Holliday’s fluttering, spacey vocals and transcendent movements contrasting with the echoing intensity of the live instrumentals. Playing iconic tracks such as “Glow,” “Drift,” and “Hush,” Slow Crush left the audience with a once-in-a-lifetime reverberating shoegaze experience.
Slow Crush: Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music | BandCamp
Death Bells: Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music | BandCamp
Trauma Ray: Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | Apple Music | BandCamp
Roman Candle: Instagram | Spotify | Apple Music | BandCamp
Article: Vlada Stark