The end is the beginning
The Bees Nees
Two years ago, a group of young teens in Reno formed a self-proclaimed “death jazz” band called The Bees Nees, as in the 1920s-era expression meaning something excellent or outstanding, not referencing the obnoxious Australian guy from T.V.
As of a couple weeks ago, Julian Jacobs is the lone surviving member of the original outfit. In a situation Jacobs only describes as “drama, drama, drama,” the co-founder of the band departed, leaving Jacobs, 17, the band’s lead guitarist and sometimes vocalist, with more recent additions John Ryan, 17, on bass; and Noah Conrath, 18, on the drums.
Together, the trio jams music that they describe as “Black Sabbath and the Grateful Dead having a fight on stage.” The Dead influence is definitely more discernable than the Sabbath, but they occasionally wander into some hard-rock thrashing. The songs are mostly funky, head-bobbing bass lines, punctuated by Jacobs’ whining, whimsical guitar licks. They have a groovy, improvisational jam-session quality. According to Jacobs, “you’d be surprised” at the number of teenage Deadheads who appreciate and create this kind of music.
Nonetheless, it seems pretty unique among the throngs of typical indie rock bands that populate the Reno scene.
The Bees Nees describe this as a time of transition and are thinking of renaming the band and writing all new songs. Meanwhile, they have a show booked. Saturday, April 7 marks one of the first all-ages’ rock shows at the much anticipated and talked about Holland Project. The Bees Nees are opening the show.
“We’re stoked,” says Ryan.
“Everyone’s excited about it,” says Jacobs. “I think Holland is going to be really big.”
Conrath became acquainted with the Holland Project through his work on Project Moonshine, a youth-oriented filmmaking organization which produced a short documentary about Holland. He sees a lot of potential in the group.
“The whole idea is to have a space where kids can go and meet other kids and create art and music,” he says. He thinks having a venue for artistic expression will inspire more young people to express themselves, creating an exponentially greater pool of young artists and art lovers in the area.
Gone—or, at least, infrequent—will be the embarrassment of being kicked out of their own gig and having their friends turned away at the door. If there is a scene that exemplifies the frustrations of underage rockers, it is that of a recent Bees Nees show. The band had booked a gig at a local cocktail lounge and had invited some friends to check it out. By law, their teen friends were forbidden in the bar. Still hoping to take in some of the show, the kids perched on the tallest things they could find and snuck a few glances through a high window, while trying to enjoy the muffled music leaking through the walls.
Needless to say, the emergence of all-ages’ venues like The Holland Project, The House on the Hill and The Warehouse in Carson City come as a breath of fresh air to the guys in The Bees Nees and their young counterparts throughout the area. Jacobs senses a change in the air.
“The scene is building up,” he says. “There’s more and more shows and places to play. It seems like it’s getting huge. … But maybe it just seems that way because I haven’t been anywhere else.”