The punk rocker peered into the glass case, observing a faded black T-shirt with white block lettering, “DON’T BRO ME IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME.”
“I like that message,” Eugene Hütz of veteran punk band Gogol Bordello says, leaning over to take a few pics on his cell phone. “This has a great attitude, for sure. You don’t know me well enough to call me by this name.”
The T-shirt was one of hundreds of display pieces at the Punk Rock Museum, donated by Laura Jane Grace of The Devouring Mothers. The palace of punk opened this month at 1422 Western Ave.
Hütz is among the punk pioneers giving guided tours of the attraction, though his was a one-off. He is in town to attend the Iggy Pop show Saturday night at Pearl at the Palms (fittingly, a 1977 Iggy Pop concert shirt is displayed net to The Devouring Mothers item).
Hütz seems as captivated as the guests at the museum’s breadth and detail.
“It’s a lot to take in,” he said. “I’m just riffing on what I know.” Which is also a lot, as the tour took about two hours. The genre’s entire history is covered. A favorite detail is the garage space Pennywise has used for rehearsals for 20 years.
More mainstream music fans will recognize contributions from the B-52s, Green Day, Billy Idol and Generation X, and The Offspring peppered amid the industry’s groundbreaking artists.
Vegas has a mixed history of museum attractions. The Mob Museum, Neon Museum and Atomic Museum are cultural destinations that have wowed tourists for years.
But the original Liberace Museum shut down in 2010 when operators couldn’t adjust to depleting visitation. Pieces of that collection are now displayed at the Liberace Garage at 5115 Dean Martin Drive.
Also, Elvis-A-Rama closed in 2006 after a seven-year run on Industrial Road, and the Elvis attraction at Westgate cratered in February 2016 after just 11 months.
But the Punk Rock Museum, with its P Moss-managed Triple Down Saloon, seems built to last. Hütz says the Punk Museum will show the enduring punk rock scene is more than a music genre. It is a lifestyle, an international community.
“This is what is shown here, what punk really is,” he says. “This museum is education, and also entertainment. A lot of people who are in Las Vegas for a weekend will wind up here. They might stumble in here and discover something substantial. I think it’s got real substance.”
Hütz returns to his message from the tour he just piloted.
”Punk is the essence of my life,” he says.” I think anybody who also discovers this as a way of life will find a very positive alternative for the matrix that’s out there.”
If operators add an audio tour to the punk experience, Hütz’s would be a compelling voice. I could listen to him all day.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.