P Moss, the mind behind the Double Down Saloon, opens a new hangout in Las Vegas, Nevada.
By Ryan Slattery
P Moss had a problem. The Las Vegas bar legend, who opened the city’s most notorious dive bar, the Double Down Saloon three decades ago, then added trippy Frankie’s Tiki Room in 2008, was opening a new joint inside the Punk Rock Museum, but it was too pretty.
“The walls were black,” Moss says with anguish in his voice when he recalls first seeing the freshly painted room. But he had a plan to get that “lived in look.” He called Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge, who has a habit of destroying things (including a tirade in Rage Against the Machine’s dressing room at the Reading Festival) and unleashed him on his new bar–The Triple Down.
“I brought Fletcher in to, you know, pound the shit out of the place,” Moss says. Fletcher battered the walls, scribbled some graffiti and Moss slapped stickers and photos all over the walls and tables. It was an improvement. Fletcher left his mark, but it wasn’t his only one.
“I’ll get the credit for this, but we were having a chat one day and we’re talking, this was before the bar opened, and [Fletcher] just mentioned in passing about drinking rum and coke out of a Pringles can. I said, ‘You did that?,’ and he goes, ‘That’s all I drink.’ I was like okay. He walked in on opening day and there it was,” Moss laughs.
Behold, The Fletcher ($14), a rum and coke served in a Pringles can with the chips poured out on a plate.
Secrets of the Museum
The idea for the Punk Rock Museum was born when NOFX guitarist and vocalist “Fat Mike” Burkett discussed opening a punk rock store with Warped Tour manager Lisa Brownlee. She suggested adding a little museum in the back.
With help from friends known as the Punk Collective, that little (two-story and 12,000-square-foot) museum opened in April with a huge collection of punk memorabilia. There are show fliers everywhere mixed among the hundreds of photographs, tour-worn clothing, leather jackets, instruments, and handwritten lyrics and notes–like the postcard 14-year-old
Dave Grohl sent to the Necros that reads, “Send me info on the band and when they’re going to play in DC. Send a sticker too please.”
There’s also a photo showing Kurt Cobain sitting on a black couch that hangs directly above that couch. A functionally recreation of the garage Pennywise rehearsed in, and a jam room where you can play the actual guitars the bands used. Plus, of course, a tattoo parlor and wedding chapel.
Punk rockers themselves even the lead tours so you can hear wild stories from the likes of CJ Ramone (The Ramones; Me First and the Gimme Gimmes), Alice Bag (The Bags), Todd Morse (Offspring) Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats) or Warren Fitzgerald (The Vandals), depending on the day of your visit.
All it needed now was a bar.
The fact that neither Fat Mike nor Moss know exactly where they first met isn’t exactly surprising as they rattle off the circumstances and places they may have met. The consensus is that it was, most likely, when Fat Mike played the Double Down with The Gimmes in the first days of the Punk Rock Bowling scene.
More recently, Fat Mike sought out Moss for his reputation as a bar owner. “Moss knows how to run a bar, a punk bar,” Fat Mike says. “There was no other discussion.”
At first, Moss was reluctant to tackle a new project but after talking it over with his business partner Chris Andrasfay, they decided that the place was going to be pretty special.
“I’m not a punk at all, but I love punk shit,” Moss says while sitting in the bar. “I like this place more every day. It’s becoming what I want it to become.”
The Triple Down has a familiar feel. It offers an ordinary selection of canned beers, a couple local IPA’s and hard liquor. Happy hour runs daily for the first two hours after opening (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) when all drinks are $5. The bar may soon start serving a rotating selection of punk rock beers like Lost Coast Brewery’s Pennywiser or the hoppy lager Punk in Drublic from NOFX.
But you won’t find Ass Juice, the Double Down’s infamous shot. Instead, ask for a Gut Punch, described by Moss as “Ass Juice’s bastard cousin,” with a can of Hamm’s.
While the Punk Rock Museum will attract people from around the world, Moss wants it to become a local spot. “When someone says, ‘Let’s go have a drink. Where do you want to go?’ The Triple Down needs to be in the conversation. We want to make locals feel comfortable and want to come hangout.”
The bar, no doubt, will organically develop as drunken patrons add to the surroundings. Only then, Moss says, will it have its own personality.
“It’s not a dive bar,” Moss says. “You cannot create a dive bar. People think you can. You cannot. It needs to establish an identity of its own. Bars have to evolve. They need to earn their character. All you can do is establish the parameters. I’ll never stop working and trying to make it better.”
The Punk Rock Museum is open daily, from noon to 10 p.m. thepunkrockmuseum.com.