June, 2008

‘Beneath the Neon’ lures visitors into hidden world beneath Las Vegas

June 30th, 2008

Based on a series of articles that originally ran in Las Vegas CityLife, Matthew O’Brien‘s 2007 book Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas (Huntington Press) chronicles the hidden world of those living in the flood channels beneath Sin City. Local artist and cultural purveyor Brian “Paco” Alvarez has recreated the world captured by O’Brien with the installation of “Beneath the Neon: The Exhibition” at the Contemporary Arts Collective gallery inside the Arts Factory (101 E. Charleston Blvd.).

Beneath the NeonThe exhibit is designed to recreate the aesthetics and environment of the storm drains, surrounding visitors with claustrophobic realism via graffiti, garbage, water, gravel and other discarded items composing the makeshift living spaces O’Brien discovered below the Entertainment Capital of the World. Left with only a narrow path between all the desolation around them, patrons are left feeling somewhat jarred and discomforted.

The exhibit also includes a side gallery curated by Alvarez featuring artifacts and photos from the tunnel explorations, as well as a video capturing some of O’Brien’s adventures. “Beneath the Neon: The Exhibition” runs through July 24. If you missed the preview reception on June 26, a pre-First Friday reception will be held Thursday, July 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. as well as a panel discussion and book signing on Thursday, July 17 at the same time.

A month’s worth of Vegas live music in one easy post

June 26th, 2008

Cute is what we aim for
They aimed for “cute.” We think they attained “gay.”

Here’s the goods on July’s rock, metal and alternative shows in Las Vegas over the next month at Rox Club (5285 Dean Martin Dr.), The Joint (Hard Rock Hotel, 4485 Paradise Road) and Jillian’s Las Vegas (450 Fremont St.):

Friday, June 27
Hard Rock Hotel, The Joint: Gym Class Heroes, The Academy Is…, Cobra Starship and Tyga at 7 p.m., $28.

Thursday, July 10
Rox Club: Mankind Is Obsolete, Ikonoklast, dreamscar at 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 12
Hard Rock Hotel, The Joint: The Roots at 8 p.m., $45.
Jillian’s Las Vegas: Searchlight, Almost Normal, The Stript, Lydia Vance, Hitting On Hannah, Red Hot Radio Guilty By Association, Give Em Hell, Antagen, Hang Em High, Billys Kid and Infernal Racket at 6 p.m., $10.

Thursday, July 17
Jillian’s Las Vegas: Suicide Silence with Walls of Jericho, 36 Crazyfists, The Seventh Plague, Secrets Kept In Suicide and Destruction Of A Rose at 6 p.m., $12.50 – $15.

Friday, July 18
Jillian’s Las Vegas: This Romantic Tragedy, Amarionette, The Material, Save The Hero and Veona at 6 p.m., $10.
Rox Club: The Disrepair, Omination and Volatile at 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 19
Hard Rock Hotel, The Joint: Gavin Rossdale at 8 p.m., $25.
Jillian’s Las Vegas: Cute is What We Aim For, Ace Enders, Danger Radio and Powerspace at 5 p.m., $12 -14.

Friday, July 25
Jillian’s Las Vegas: Terror, The Warriors, Death Before Dishonor, CDC and Trapped Under Ice, 6 p.m., $12 – 14.
Rox Club: Sicmonic, Broken End, Fallen Vegas at 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 26
Jillian’s Las Vegas: Away We Go!, We Play For Keeps, Fight Fight Fight and Burning Season at 6 p.m., $10.
Rox Club: Time Again, Zerofingers, Happy Campers, Penetrators and Mercinaries at 8 p.m.

Sunday, July 27
Rox Club: Gorilla Productions Battle of the Bands, featuring As Yet Unbroken, Urchin, Stargasm, Casualty of Youth, The Scoundrels, Shattered Wings, Bangkok Shock, The Kurgans, DarkSpade and Centaur Rodeo at 5 p.m., $10 – 12.

Tuesday, July 29
Jillian’s Las Vegas: I Am Ghost, Eyes Like Diamonds, As He Defeats, The Murder Ballad and Ministry Of Love, 6 p.m., $11 – 13.

Bands coming to House of Blues Las Vegas in July

June 23rd, 2008

Bullet for my Valentine
Bullet for My Valentine performs with Bleeding Through and Cancer Bats on July 26.

Whether your preferred mode of dancing is skanking, pogoing or moshing, the House of Blues inside Mandalay Bay has something for you in the coming month. Check out these choice selections:

  • Thursday, July 3: Rancid, The Aquabats and Urchin, 5:30 p.m., $20.
  • Thursday, July 10: Rooney, Locksley and The Bridges, 6 p.m., $14.
  • Thursday, July 17: Mastodon, Machine Head and Black Tide, 6 p.m., $22.
  • Wednesday, July 23: Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Finch, Foxy Shazam and Tickle Me Pink, 5 p.m., $15.
  • Thursday, July 24: Less Than Jake, Goldfinger, Big D and the Kids Table and Suburban Legends, 6 p.m., $20.
  • Friday, July 25: Alkaline Trio, American Steel and The Fashion, 6 p.m., $14.50.
  • Saturday, July 26: Bullet for My Valentine, Bleeding Through and Cancer Bats, 6 p.m., $23.
  • Thursday, July 31: Kottonmouth Kings, Tech 9, hed PE, Sen Dog and Xclan, 4:45 p.m., $32.50.

CineVegas wraps up with awards, parties, honors

June 22nd, 2008

Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Clark Gregg
Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston and Clark Gregg pose on the red carpet at the CineVegas Honorees Reception on Friday night. (Photos by Erik Kabik)

A stagnant heat permeated the CineVegas Honorees Reception on Friday night at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino pool, but that didn’t stop the Hollywood powerhouse honorees from getting dolled up and posing under the harsh lights of the red carpet.

In attendance were those receiving honors — Anjelica Huston (Marquee Award), Don Cheadle, Rosario Dawson, Viggo Mortensen, Sam Rockwell (Half-Life Awards) and James Caan (Vegas Icon Award) — as well as other such talents as Choke director Clark Gregg, Oscar-winning actor Robert Duvall and Iron Man actress Leslie Bibb.

With the conclusion of the CineVegas film festival — capped off with dual parties at the Palazzo pool and ghostbar in the Palms — the full list of awards for the festival’s films was announced Saturday. Major winners include She Unfolds by Day (Grand Jury Prize), Dark Streets and Your Name Here (Special Jury Awards), Año uña (Year of the Nail) (La Próxima Ola Jury Prize), Beautiful Losers (Documentary Jury Award), Hi My Name is Ryan (Special Documentary Jury Award), Lost in the Fog (Documentary Audience Award) and Visioneers (Dramatic Audience Award). (more…)

UNLV film school brats face off at annual CineVegas showcase

June 18th, 2008

UNLV showcase
Scenes from UNLV’s shorts: Clockwise, from top left: Are You Sleeping, Brother John, 48 Hours – The Mockumentary, Don’t Spill the Beans, Thin Walls.

It’s tough enough being a student at UNLV in general – looming budget cuts, bottom-ranked football team, questionably valued degrees – but for UNLV Department of Film majors, it’s perhaps even tougher. I mean, what famed director ever talks about their education at UNLV? USC, UCLA, The New School, sure — but Tumbleweed Tech? Not so much.

However, that’s not to say these kids don’t try. The highlight of their year for the film school, one must assume, is the UNLV Showcase at the CineVegas Film Festival, where the top shorts by UNLV’s film students get their time in the (potentially) international spotlight on a big screen at The Palms’ Brenden Theaters. Of course, there is typically barely any room for the outside world even to get a look at these mini-movies, as seats tend to be filled with hundreds of the filmmakers’ friends, family and crews.

But I digress. This year’s showcase seemed to offer less memorable offerings than the 2007 version, though the general production values seem overall better. Sitting through the two-hour cavalcade of amateur filmmaking was, at times, alternatively tedious, joyful, tear inducing boring and enjoyable. Though the student filmmakers should be applauded for their efforts no matter what, that doesn’t mean we’re going to go easy on ‘em all. Here’s the lowdown on the 15 shorts through which I endured last night: (more…)

‘Chelsea on the Rocks’ – best served stirred, not shaken

June 16th, 2008

Bijou Phillps and Abel Ferrara
Abel Ferrara directs Bijou Phillps as Nancy Spungen in a scene from Chelsea on the Rocks.

Day 4 of the 10th annual CineVegas Film Festival (day 2 for us here) saw the usual bizarre mix of filmmakers, press and tourists swarming the Palms on Sunday. I believe I’ve said it here (or somewhere before), but it’s a bit surreal for such a high-profile film festival to be held (mostly) at cinemas located not only within a casino property but abutting a food court, from which the red carpet is located no more than 10 feet. Hence you get a scene like the one yesterday afternoon, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson making a red carpet appearance as gawkers abandoned the snack bar and Panda Express counters to applaud or snap photos of the wrestler-cum-actor with their phones.

I was there not to match raised eyebrow with The Rock but to check out a screening of one of two Abel Ferrara entries in this year’s festival, Chelsea on the Rocks. It’s a documentary about New York’s famous (infamous?) Chelsea Hotel, temporary home to untold numbers of artists, actors, filmmakers, poets and even some plain ol’ ordinary folk over the many decades of its existence, which sees its future in question under new ownership and new management. The casual conversations between Ferrara and various past and present residents of the Chelsea — including Milos Forman, Ethan Hawke and Robert Crumb — would have made for an engaging movie on their own, as well as the atmospheric scenes of the lobby and neighboring businesses that evoke the collective vibe of the property.

But Ferrara intersperses the interviews with unnecessary recreations/imaginings of “famous” situations at the Chelsea, such as Nancy Spungen’s mysterious death and drug overdose-inducing partying by Janis Joplin. Those vignettes, combined with time-killing transitional elements, extend the film about 20 minutes longer than it needed to be, and take away from the colorful, intimate anecdotes that really should be the meat of the film. Overall, it’s an intriguing look at a New York institution, but it’s a bit dizzying with its distractions. The audience’s own ambiguity toward the film may have been evident in the stalled, subdued applause rendered Chelsea in comparison to the enthusiastic reception given to its preceding short, To Kill an American, an inspiring, three-minute short by actor-turned-director Matthew Modine.

Ferrara could not attend the screening, but here’s Chelsea on the Rocks producer Jen Gatien introducing the film:

VEGASinsight finally gears up for CineVegas X

June 14th, 2008

CineVegas X

Yes, I know CineVegas Film Festival started on Thursday, June 12. I know this because I was supposed to review the opening-night film, The Rocker, and attend the CineVegas 10th Anniversary bash the following night at Palms Place. But thanks to our prolonged spring here in Las Vegas this year (typically we’re already in the 100s by now), my season-changing cold came about a month late, which of course coincided with the start of CineVegas.

Well, I’m still not at 100 percent, but I did manage to get down to the CineVegas Headquarters inside The Palms this afternoon to pick up my press credentials and put in ticket requests for the rest of the week’s screenings (not all of them, mind you — just select films in which I had interest). I probably won’t get rolling on the action until tomorrow, but hang tight as I’ll be dropping in reports more often throughout the week including reviews, celeb spotting and other nonsense. Sadly, I won’t be reviewing Choke, the new film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, because I was informed today it’s sold out. Sigh … that’s what I get for being sick.

Either way, I won’t be wanting for comfort during my time at The Palms, as CineVegas has set up a pretty sweet lounge for its volunteers, staff and media members, complete with complimentary Red Bull, multiple TVs, comfy couches, sponsor magazines and a ping pong table:

CineVegas lounge

Sex Pistols at the Hard Rock’s Joint: ‘No Fun’ indeed

June 9th, 2008

Johnny Rotten by Hew Burney
Nice pajamas. (Photo by Hew Burney)

Sex Pistols fans had two choices Saturday night to see the legendary punk rock band perform the snarling, iconic songs that defined its original, 18-month career: Hold in their hands tickets to the band’s sold-out tour kick-off at the Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas, or construct a time machine and go back in time to 1977 England.

The time machine option would have been the smarter of the two.

The Sex Pistols – who are clearly just banking their retirement at this point – reinforced the necessity of their original break-up 30 years ago in a performance Saturday night that was more pathetic than anything else. Not that the legions of fans who packed the Hard Rock’s venue – mostly late-model Boomers way past their prime (oh, like the band on-stage?) – would agree. They were too blinded with pure fanaticism, reliving their foregone youths to notice that John Lydon and crew were mere caricatures of themselves, punctuating the reason why our fondest idols died (or broke up) young: Morrison, Dean, Curtis, etc. (more…)

June’s First Friday is all about exposing body parts

June 5th, 2008

Guess what we cropped out of this picture?

Oh, man, is it TDBFF (the day before First Friday) already??! Sweet baby Jesus, where has the month gone? We have to warn you, there are so many awesome art and music happenings tied into the June edition of everyone’s favorite monthly arts festival / emo kid gathering / heavy boozing shindig that we aren’t even sure if you can handle this much awesomeness. So be sure to check with a medical professional before reading any further.

First up, tonight, June 5, we have the official opening reception for “Breast Defense: Glamour Girls for Early Detection” at The Fallout (at the Commerce Street Studios, 1551 S. Commerce St.). It’s a collaboration between the gallery, the Burlesque Hall of Fame and the Keep A Breast Foundation to build awareness of and eliminate breast cancer. We went by the soft opening of the exhibit a few weeks ago, and it’s pretty cool – dozens of molds cast from the busts of numerous burlesque performers, painted by artists such as Amy Sol, Casey Weldon and Tim Biskup, as well as some musical boob-lovers: Kim Gordon, Iggy Pop and Mark Mothersbaugh. The reception, from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight, features live performances from some of the busts behind those casts, so stop by if you, too, love boobs. I mean, who doesn’t?

Also opening tonight is “What Is It?,” a new show by Southern California illustrator Thomas Lee Bakofsky, at Marty Walsh’s Trifecta Gallery (inside the Arts Factory, 103 E. Charleston Blvd. #108). It’s from 5 to 8 p.m., and as always, Tinoco’s Bistro will be providing the refreshments. (more…)

Peter Murphy wants your ticket sales … or blood, whatever

June 3rd, 2008

peter murphy
We’re not saying Peter Murphy is a vampire, but he does keep coming back from the dead.

It must be Tuesday again, because the House of Blues just let us know what tickets are going two-for-one in its weekly “2-for-Tu” promotion. And we’re pretty sure no matter what kind of alternative music lover you are, there’s something good and cheap for you in the next week or two at House of Blues Las Vegas (inside the Mandalay Bay).

Fans of cartoon metal (not to be confused with cartoonish metal such as KISS) might want to pick up tickets for Dethklok on Friday, June 7, only $23 for two. And those of you wandering around in black trench coats in the middle of a Las Vegas summer will undoubtedly find two-for-$22 Peter Murphy tickets for Saturday, June 8 appealing. Last up on this week’s “2-for-Tu” list is Sevendust, growling its way into your hearts for about the same price on Thursday, June 12.

As always, these specially-priced tickets are available only via HOB.com, and only until 10 p.m. Tuesday night. Enjoy, kiddies.