Off Beat: Positively Reno’s biggest little festival

Tony Contini / Tahoe Onstage

Sun Valley Gun Club is among the great groups who will play the Off Beat Music Festival.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Tony Contini

Well … it’s happened, Reno. You’ve got yourself a music festival. And not just a few artsy bands in a park, but a multiple-day-palooza.

Off Beat Arts & Music Festival will once again take over the city for three days starting November 8, showcasing dozens of venues, more than 100 performances from dozens of local acts and an unparalleled list of touring guests from big-shot towns like Los Angeles and Seattle.

The festivities start Thursday at The Saint, with Oakland’s Howlin Rain headlining. They hit the trifecta of things I have a soft spot in my heart for – bands from Oakland, ’70s rock jammers with a Built to Spill vibe and a balding dude in the spotlight.  Mapache from LA and Reno’s Moondog Matinee will open the night.

[Look at these guys go – LINK]

Friday initiates the town-wide events. Then Saturday will start about midday with the City of Reno Midtown Block Party, where listeners get the opportunity to catch acts they missed or get a second look at their favorites at fun businesses like clothing and record stores and sandwich shops. If you’re dead broke, this is your chance – look up the schedule, some of these events are free to the public. For example, our very own Failure Machine and Oakland’s Van Goat will showcase a two-hour tribute to Bill Withers. It will truly be a lovely day. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know! I’ll stop.

Each of the 10+ venues will harbor a unique vibe, genre pairing and atmosphere.

Tahoe Onstage

Spencer Kilparick and Failure Machine will be there with all their friends.

Alongside the Wither’s jam, Spencer Kilpatrick of Failure Machine also will do full performances with his three groups (The Happy Trails, Melk and FM), plus he put together the lineup at 40 Mile Saloon. He assembled a mini Gremfest, the drunken concert he throws yearly. His clique is extremely diverse and impressive this time around. You should probably purchase Sun Valley Gun Club of Sacramento’s discography right now. They’re just fantastic. Nineties nostalgia and good country music sentiments  – honestly the second coming of Meat Puppets or Pavement. Joan and the Rivers of San Jose, Reno’s BASHA, Van Goat and Auburn’s Shotgun Sawyer are all sets you can’t afford to miss.

[Be reminded of Gremfest here –LINK]

Reno will be humming with the yodels of Petunia & the Vipers from Vancouver. Their frontman possesses the demeanor of Willie Nelson and the sweet baritone of Randy Travis. They play Saturday night, right before Reno’s Jake Houston closes down Ceol Irish Pub. If you like lap-steel guits or dippin’ your lass – this is the venue for you. Substitute “lass” with something Irish people say. I’m too lazy.

Tony Contini / Tahoe Onstage

Brad Bynum and Elephant Rifle offer post-hardcore and rhythmic punk.

I can already smell what Shea’s Tavern is cooking up. There’s a sect of music and musicians that either belongs at this fine Reno establishment or aren’t allowed in elsewhere. Friday evening is capped by the funk that is Reno’s Elephant Rifle.

Saturday’s lineup at Chapel Tavern is a Californian tasting course from The Blank Tapes and Veronica Bianqui (LA) to Honyock (Sac) to  Fresh & Onlys and Killer Whale from San Francisco. There will be surf and positive vibes. Dank tunes from NorCal to SoCal.

[The Blank Tapes get ready to hang-10, bra – LINK]

Killer Whale is fronted by Thomas Johnson, a Louisiana transplant. He rips his guitar and sings falsetto over folky songs, now drenched in a California vibe. It’s easy to listen to and exciting at the same time.

Spice up your weekend, Reno. Discover some new music. Support local musicians and venues that are cultivating our town into something special, a place where bands want to play and return.

— Tony Contini

View the entire schedule and lineup here – LINK

Joan and the Rivers

Tahoe Onstage

Elephant Rifle’s Michael Young is a damn madman on drums.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Tony Contini

About Tony Contini

Photographer and journalist Tony Contini graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in art photography. He loves working with bands and telling stories. Photography portfolio: https://www.TonyContini.com

2 comments

  1. Tony–Great story with cool photos–this concert series sounds like a great Reno event–but why do at least three bands have gun weaponry in their names? “Sun Valley Gun Club is among the great groups ” ~ This band’s name: The “Sun Valley Gun Club” has to be one of the worst band names of all time…All we need now is for the band members to be photographed holding guns in front of a brick wall, blankly staring at human targets…Last night, Wed–11/7/18, we had another mass shooting tragedy at a large country and rock music club in Thousand Oaks, California, called The Borderline…Some of the people at the Borderline on 11/7 were also at the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas shootings 13 months ago…
    Bands are supposed to have creative people…but they need to seriously think about using callous names that include “gun” in their band name…

    • Hello sir,

      Thanks for the compliments.

      Let’s be clear, you’re suggesting there’s correlation or causation between band names and mass shootings? I think you and I both know there are far greater impactful forces on children and politics than local bands.

      Should we not use the idiom, “loose cannon” anymore? Violence is a problem, of course, but we should also be realistic.

      All the best.

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