Punk’s Not Dead – It’s ‘Anarchy in the L.V.’ at Vegas’ Newest Museum

Las Vegas Guide LA Times April 2023
The Punk Rock Museum: From the collection of Bryan Ray Turcotte.

In the half-century since punk rock first burst across the world, what was originally a do-it-yourself music genre and anti-establishment subculture has been embraced by mainstream America. Today, punk music is heard on TV commercials and in movies, and parents and grandparents wear the T-shirts of classic genre legends like The Ramones and Black Flag.

So, it’s only fitting that punk now has its first comprehensive, permanent museum. The Punk Rock Museum owned and operated by some of the very people who have contributed to the genre’s history, opened on the edge of the Las Vegas Arts District on March 10. As well as housing artifacts and memorabilia from the global punk scene – including handwritten lyrics, instruments, apparel, photos, and artwork – it also boasts a bar, tattoo parlor, wedding/wake chapel, merch shop and performance space.

The Punk Rock Museum began when Mike Burkett of prominent American punk band NOFX floated the notion of opening a punk rock store with friends, including former Warped Tour manager Lisa Brownlee. The idea quickly grew, and Burkett assembled a group of like-minded punk luminaries and industry professionals, including artist and memorabilia collector Bryan Ray Turcotte, who became the Punk Collective.

Las Vegas Guide LA Times April 2023
The Punk Rock Museum’s Bryan Ray Turcotte.
(Lisa Johnson)

With their collaboration, the concept snowballed into the creation of The Punk Rock Museum, celebrating the genre’s cultural impact and featuring multiple pieces from Turcotte’s incredible collection. Investors included Pat Smear (Germs/Nirvana/Foo Fighters guitarist), Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion guitarist/Epitaph Records owner), and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.

“The Punk Rock Museum will celebrate not only famous punk bands, but also every punk band that has ever been on a flyer, played in a basement or recorded a demo tape,” said the Punk Collective.

While Sin City hasn’t spawned any major homegrown punk bands, Vegas venues like The Dive Bar and Double Down Saloon are staples of the genre’s van tour circuit. (Double Down owner P-Moss will help run the Punk Rock Museum’s Triple Down bar.)

What really puts Las Vegas on the punk rock map is the annual “Punk Rock Bowling” festival that lately brings over 100 bands from all over the world to play across multiple Downtown venues. Its next edition runs May 26-29, headlined by Rancid, Bad Religion, and Dropkick Murphys.

Starting this month, the Punk Rock Museum will further enhance its authenticity with guided tours by musicians central to its story. For example, visitors can hear firsthand about the first Germs show from drummer Don Bolles, learn about the early 1980s NYC punk scene from Agnostic Front vocalist Roger Miret, or revisit the meteoric rise of The Offspring from guitarist Noodles.

The Punk Rock Museum joins an array of popular Las Vegas “niche museums.” The city’s Atomic Testing Museum recently rebranded as the Atomic Museum, while the long-running Neon Museum just welcomed back the historic Lido de Paris sign to its “boneyard” collection. Meanwhile, the gangster-themed Mob Museum is now in its 11th year, and there’s even an interactive Museum of Selfies (seriously!) in The LINQ Promenade. ♠

-Paul Rogers