the skooners
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the skooners

Las Vegas, Nevada, United States | SELF

Las Vegas, Nevada, United States | SELF
Band Rock Soul


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Shut Down Shop (LP) - 2007
Grow a Moustache, Change Your Name (LP) - 2010


Feeling a bit camera shy


A lot has changed since 2007, when The Skooners beat out 18 groups to win the Rock the Rainbow battle of the bands. For starters, the Las Vegas location of Hollywood’s legendary Rainbow Bar & Grill, where the soulful, garage-pop act played against mostly modern rock and reggae bands for the five-months of the competition, closed down later that year and never reopened. In 2007, downtown Las Vegas’ now rapidly-growing Neon Reverb music festival was still far from selling its first wristband, and, with the help of The Skooners and other local indie bands, changing the town’s musical landscape. And in 2007, The Skooners, who have since shared a stage with The Hold Steady, Squeeze and The Walkmen, and have been voted the best band in Las Vegas by the readers of Las Vegas CityLife newspaper two years in a row(09-10), were just a little-known band who didn’t play out much.
After winning the battle of the bands, “That’s when we started getting asked to play out,” singer Blair Dewane said. It’s not much of a surprise that The Skooners, formed by Blair and brother/guitarist Ian Dewane in 2003 (drummer Jake Farmer, bassist Max Supera and keyboardist Adam Yarbro later joined), caught the attention of local promoters after that initial push, because if you can make people dance like The Skooners can, they will come a’knockin’ (as one audience member was quoted saying in a Las Vegas CityLife feature on the band, “No one dances like this to local bands!”). But The Skooners’ rise to the top of the Las Vegas scene can be attributed to so much more than its dance floor friendliness. Radio-ready hooks, less-is-more guitar licks, and a poignant, yet fun ethos all contribute to an engaging frenzy of a live show. Whether you like to dance, sing along, wave your hands in the air or simply admire the clean, smart musicianship (while tapping your foot, of course), the band’s live experience offers something for just about everyone.
Though the band has, since 2007, been peddling its debut album, Shut Down Shop – featuring what Blair Dewane calls the “funky punk shit” of their early days, recorded in a bedroom – The Skooners have primarily sailed on the merits of their live show. But with the long-awaited, summer 2010 release of the superbly-recorded, more mature, sophomore album, Grow a Moustache, Change Your Name – recorded in Seattle with engineer Ben Kersten (Blood Brothers, Grand Archives) – the hometown heroes finally have what they need to sail the high seas of popular music to listeners far beyond Sin City. 
Think of a band with choppy guitar riffage reminiscent of newer Modest Mouse, but with a less spastic frontman. Or the instrumentation and big choruses of The Arcade Fire, but with fewer people on stage. The bounciness of early Kings of Leon, but with fewer sexually transmitted diseases. The white boy funkiness of Maroon 5, but with less studio-polishing and minivan-driving fans. Cold War Kids, but with less Jesus. The Shins, but with more balls. The Strokes, but with more dynamics. And if you have to say it, The Skooners’ ability to resonate with a wide audience through their sometimes-danceable, sometimes-soaring sonic tendencies can certainly be compared to that of The Killers. But the two bands should be compared not for their music, but for the city which claims them – the difference is, most outside Las Vegas haven’t heard the city’s favorite band.
Perhaps the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Skooners now gear up to take on yet another audience, but from here on out, they won’t be stopping at the end of the bar or city limits.