Not only do Las Vegas entertainers like Lon Bronson regularly showcase their homegrown talent at The Smith Center – local artists work behind the scenes, too.
These include Vincent Rennie, digital marketing specialist for The Smith Center, whose good old days include opening for Imagine Dragons and recording in The Killers’ studio.
After his Las Vegas band Summit Grove brushed with success, the musician/songwriter offers a somber takeaway: It’s hard work.
“It’s one of those things where I just had to do it,” the 27-year-old says.
Some teenagers divide their free time between malls and television.
Not so for Vincent, his brother Dominic and friend Jason Carter, all still attending Coronado High School when they formed their band with plans of touring and recording.
Vincent recalls heading straight from school to daily rehearsals.
“That was my life,” says Vincent, a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for the group. “I think we all just wanted to make a living out of music so badly.”
While still under voting age, he had written hundreds of songs.
“I would sit in my room and start writing in the morning, and suddenly realize it was 7 p.m.,” he says.
The vibrant Vegas music scene helped them land in front of audiences quickly.
Shortly after the band formed, Carter landed them a gig at then-Vegas-hot-spot Jillian’s.
“We had no songs written, so with three weeks to go we had to write brand new songs and rehearse them,” Vincent recalls. “We weren’t the greatest, but it sure got us out there.”
A local promoter helped get them onto more stages, including at the Hard Rock Café and House of Blues Las Vegas.
“For many local bands at the time, the House of Blues was untouchable,” Vincent recalls.
As word spread, they expanded to performing in California and Utah. Their online savvy helped, with the group’s Myspace account rapidly amassing 130,000 views.
“Of course playing more gigs, you start to gain more fans,” Vincent adds.
Their loyal following led to performing sets with nationally known artists. The group even opened for Imagine Dragons and Awolnation at downtown event Rock the Block.
“Imagine Dragons were nice, down-to-Earth, genuine people,” Vincent says. “They were headlining the event, and after they were done sound checking, they went to one of their homes to make dinner and came back to do the show.”
Summit Grove eventually reached the holy grail of making a high-quality recording – in the Killers’ studio, no less – which they funded themselves through selling merchandise.
“It was a very exciting experience to even go in there and get recording time,” Vincent says.
The Price of Performing
The group found performing professionally hard to sustain, however.
Venues often required them to sell their own tickets, difficult to fit in around rehearsals, booking gigs, marketing and fighting for a record deal.
“For most gigs, we would probably get $50 or $100 for every $1,000 in tickets we’d sell,” Vincent says. “If anyone is ever asked to go see a local band’s show, I implore them to say yes.”
Although performing fell to the wayside, the effort still paid off.
Vincent’s marketing for the band provided a foundation for his work at The Smith Center. He also now has two children with his wife Sarah, who he met after one of the band’s concerts.
He will always perform, he adds, even if just around the community.
“I want my kids to see if you love doing something, you can go out and do it,” Vincent says. “It doesn’t matter how big the stage is.”
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