October, 2008

Neon Outlook: Halloween 2008 in Las Vegas, Part Two

October 28th, 2008

Jello wrestling
Jell-O wrestling at McFadden’s has nothing to do with Halloween. We just wanted to use the picture. Good costume idea, though, huh?

It seems like mere seconds after we posted our round-up preview of concerts, parties and events that may be worth checking out this Halloween, a whole new batch of Vegas-tastic on-goings appeared. So we’ll forgo the niceties and dive right in. You only have three days left, so make your plans now.

Revolution Lounge at the Mirage: “Pretty in Pink Halloween” featuring resident DJ Minor spinning mash-ups, hip-hop and Top 40. A pretty-in-pink-themed costume contest will find the top five pink ladies walking away with P.I.N.K. vodka gift boxes worth a total of $5000 in cash and prizes. Doors at 10 p.m., complimentary P.I.N.K. vodka for the ladies until midnight. $20 cover for men, $10 for visiting ladies and free for local women.

Rok Vegas at New York-New York: Carmen Electra hosts Rok’s first Halloween bash with her fiancee, former Korn guitarist Rob Patterson spinning a special DJ set.

Adventuredome at Circus Circus: Fright Dome closing night, 7 p.m. to midnight, featuring 23 rides and attractions, Lady Diable and her Xtreme Sideshow, Scare Zones, a stunt show and acclaimed haunted houses.

New York-New York: “Screamers – The Haunted Bridge” turns the hotel and casino’s Brooklyn Bridge replica into a terrifying haunted house. Admission is $20 per person, $15 for hotel guests and open to all ages (children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult). Open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

PT’s/Sierra Gold: Second Annual Wicked Costume Contest at 7 p.m., all 36 locations, featuring Bud, Bud Light and Bacardi specials. One winner from each bar will receive $100 cash.

SushiSamba at the Palazzo: “Spooky KaBOOki” Halloween celebration featuring DJ Dracula, free Japanese candy, cocktail and desert specials, and a costume contest with a grand prize trip for two to Miami and dinner at SushiSamba.

McFadden’s at the Rio: Drink with the Devil with free admission for guests in costume, drink specials and a $1000 cash prize for overall best costume, plus bar tabs for “sexiest,” “scariest,” “most Irish” and “dirtiest Devil” winning costumes. $10 for women and $20 for men gets an open bar from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay: Haunted Reef from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Open to all ages – children under 12 in costume receive free admission. Guests 17 or older donating at the United Blood Services booth from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. receive complimentary entry as well.

Tao at the Venetian: Third annual Taolloween party hosted by Tera Patrick at 10 p.m. Music by DJs Reach and Hideo.

Frankie’s getting Tiki-rific makeover

October 27th, 2008

If there’s any one person who knows how to turn dirt into gold, it’s P. Moss, owner of the Double Down Saloon. He made his “Happiest Place on Earth” – really, the diviest of Las Vegas dive bars – into an internationally renowned punk rock icon, so much that it warranted a second location opening in New York City’s Bowery just a few years back.

So it stands to reason that when Moss re-opens the former Frankie’s Bar & Cocktail Lounge (1712 W. Charleston Blvd.) on Dec. 4 as Frankie’s Tiki Room, we’ll no doubt be in the presence of another truly legendary Vegas watering hole. The bar proprietor’s latest acquisition will be getting a full overhaul, according to Moss pal and local editor and writer James Reza.

“Moss assures me that this is no half-assed superficial remodel,” Reza writes on his blog. “This is the first serious tiki bar in Vegas since Taboo Cove at the Venetian closed. These design cats have connections to the Stardust’s Aku Aku and Disneyland’s Tiki Room.”

Stay tuned for more information as the opening date gets closer; until then, bookmark the Frankie’s Tiki Room website, still under construction.

Neon Outlook: Las Vegas’ Live Music in November

October 24th, 2008

Portugal the Man
Portugal the Man gets you pregnant at Jillian’s on Nov. 16

Is it really almost Halloween already? It seems like just yesterday we were telling you about summer festivals and Labor Day events. Sigh … I guess we had better roll out the list of November musical concerts and events now, based on your Google search demands:

Saturday, November 1
Jillian’s: One Pin Short with guests at 6 p.m. $10, all ages.

Sunday, November 2
House of Blues: The Faint, Dr. Dooom (aka Kool Keith) and Mika Miko at 5:30 p.m. $17-20, all ages.

Monday, November 3
Jillian’s: Jedi Mind Tricks, Outerspace and Reef the Lost Cauze at 6 p.m. $17-20, all ages.

Tuesday, November 4
The Joint: The Blackest of the Black Tour featuring Danzig, DImmu Borgir, Moonspell, Winds of Plague and Skeletonwitch at 7 p.m. $28.50.
Wasted Space: Hyper Crush at 10 p.m. 21-over.
House of Blues: Rise Against with Alkaline Trio, Thrice and The Gaslight Anthem at 5 p.m. $32-35, all ages.

Wednesday, November 5
House of Blues: Rise Against with Alkaline Trio, Thrice and The Gaslight Anthem at 5 p.m. $32-35, all ages.

Excuse me, sir, there’s a Tila in my (Tacos &) Tequila!

October 23rd, 2008

Tila Tequila
A match made in naming heaven. (Photos by Erik Kabik | RETNA)

I get invited – and attend – a lot of grand openings, media events and VIP parties. You don’t read about a lot of that stuff here because, well, that would somewhat defy VEGASinsight’s mission to reveal the side of Las Vegas behind the neon. So you don’t need me to tell you about last night’s grand opening of Tacos & Tequila (T&T) at the Luxor. You likely have no interest in reading about Tila Tequila, Criss Angel or Carrot Top posing on a red carpet for photos and not much more.

But then I got to thinking that writing about just the banality of these type of events might make for interesting fodder, and since one of the key elements of this site is “commentary,” well, who am I not to deliver the goods?

T&T is located on the atrium level of the Luxor, separated from the other new-ish makeover attempts in the once-Egyptian-themed resort such as Company American Bistro, CatHouse and LAX. So that means this “rock ‘n’ roll” Mexican-style restaurant is mere steps away from the Luxor’s wedding chapel, people hawking “rides” on magic carpets and the 15-year-old motion ride “In Search of the Obelisk.” Did we mention that not six months ago, a La Salsa was standing where T&T now resides – and not much outside of the décor has changed?

It’s impossible to assess the quality, service or atmosphere of a restaurant at one of these red-carpet events. I can’t tell you anything about T&T’s food, because of the few different plates being passed around at the opening, none of which were friendly to my palate (or diet), and though no one said anything bad about the taquitos and tacos, no one said anything outstanding either.

Coming soon to NBC: \"Douchebag and The Troll\"See, this is what happens at these events: The same group of local guest-listers – a combination of power players, public relations types, publishers, industry execs and lifestyle personalities such as myself, I suppose – get invited, show up, drink a lot of free liquor, eat a few hors d’oeuvres and schmooze it up a bit. Meanwhile, typically B- and C-list celebrities are invited to “attend,” which usually means “show up to pose for a few pictures on the red carpet and then bail.” Last night’s crop included “host” Tila Tequila, Rashida Ali, Thunder from Down Under, Mosaic, Zowie Bowie and the Luxor’s resident stable of entertainers: Carrot Top, the girls of Fantasy and Criss Angel. One has to wonder if those Luxor stage-dwellers have mandatory appearances at these events written into their contracts, because I have yet to attend a Luxor VIP event at which all of them have not appeared. Then again, really, in this city, Carrot Top is allegedly A-list talent. Anywhere else, he’s a half-forgotten joke, at best.

Thankfully, I don’t do red carpets. Here in Las Vegas, they’re not like Los Angeles or New York events, where the real celebrities actually stop and talk to entertainment reporters. Instead, a gaggle of photographers and videographers crowd up to the velvet rope like cattle in a corral, snapping images and rolling footage for whatever wire service, tabloid publication or TV gossip show by which they’re hired. I don’t envy what they do – waiting hours for 10 minutes worth of work, and then in most cases being shunned from entering the party before having to rush home to dump hundreds of photos onto hard drives in order to meet overnight deadlines. I’ve “done” one red carpet, which consisted of standing around for a few hours with other increasingly impatient and cranky radio, TV and print reporters, ultimately leaving before any alleged celebrities showed up. That was it for me.

Mind you, experiences such as these aren’t bad (usually) in the least bit. It’s an investment in good press – the public relations firms know what they’re doing: Invite the right people, get ‘em drunk, give ‘em food, surround them with celebrities, and surely they’ll write and say nice things about the restaurant/nightclub/whatever that is opening. It’s just become such an expectedly absurd process, I kind of figured telling you fine people about that is much more entertaining than simply posting a gallery of photos of the above-listed proto-celebs and adding a snarky little caption.

And maybe we’ll go back to T&T soon and actually tell you about the restaurant.

The Day After… helps you live out your PopStar Guitar dreams

October 23rd, 2008

The Day After

If the measure of a band’s success these days is it’s appearance on an interactive, virtual music playing video game – as opposed to those antiquated concepts such as airplay, album sales and concert bookings – then Las Vegas’ own The Day After… has “made it.” The three-piece alternative rock band has landed its song “Car Crash,” from 2006’s album A Different Way to Get By, onto the song list of XS Games’ PopStar Guitar, a new “music rhythm game” coming soon to Wii and Playstation 2.

The Day After… is in good company on the apparent Rock Band knock-off, joined by such bands as Fall Out Boy, Paramore and All-American Rejects. PopStar Guitar differentiates itself from Guitar Hero and Rock Band by offering more pop-friendly song selections, and instead of licensed guitar controller replicas from Fender and Gibson, PopStar Guitar uses proprietary “AirG” controllers – essentially, two wireless Wii handle attachments. Look for the game to hit stores by November.

Neon Outlook: Searchlight, Henri & Odette, Blood Orgy

October 21st, 2008

Big Friendly Corporation
Big Friendly Corporation plays at Beauty Bar Oct. 25.

This week’s just about halfway over, but there are some dope events we kinda figured you shouldn’t miss, so without further adieu, here’s what’s what in Las Vegas this week:

“Bottom For Queen,” a new exhibition by UNLV graduate Daniel Samaniego, debuts this Friday, Oct. 24 at Henri & Odette (124 S. Sixth St.). A reception for the artist will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., and the show will be ony display at the gallery through Dec. 6.

IndieKrush.com and Pulsar Presents brings another edition of Say What?! to Beauty Bar (517 Fremont St.) this Saturday, Oct. 25, joining forces with Los Angeles’ Bring the Ruckus to present “Blood Orgy.” Outside, live bands The Frail, Dream Sequence, Pic Vicious, Big Friendly Corporation and Neon Facade will rock the stage along with fire mistress Jenn-o-Cide and DJ Know Well, while inside, Bul!m!atron, Dskotek, Roccanova, Grimehaus, MDY and Remy the Restless will spin dirty electro, nu-rave and indie tunes all night long. Look for free candy, a photo booth, beer pong and much more. The madness gets underway at 9 p.m., and entry is free for the bar, and only $5 for the live music.

Just around the corner at Jillian’s (450 Fremont St.) that same night, the Second Annual Searchlight and Friends Halloween show kicks off at 6 p.m. This all-ages show features Lydia Vance, Almost Normal, Hang ‘Em High and Damnear Divine along with headliner Searchlight, all for $10. Plus, a $1 raffle will be held, with all proceeds going to the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Rock out for a good cause before you shake ya ass over at Beauty Bar!

Neon Review: The Killers, House of Blues Las Vegas, 10/20/08

October 21st, 2008

Photo by Torey Mundkowsky

It would be easy to take the cynical, music-critic approach to reviewing last night’s kick-off concert of The Killers’ fall U.S. tour at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. They boys have made themselves somewhat easy fodder, what with their meteoric rise, direction-shifting, critically confusing sophomore album and mixed reception to the first single, “Human,” from the band’s forthcoming Nov. 25 third album, Day & Age.

But the fact is, Las Vegas’ biggest musical export not named Panic at the Disco put on a terrific performance to a sold-out, energetic crowd on Monday, coming out of the gate strongly with a 90-minute set comprised of 18 songs spanning the band’s career. And as usual, The Killers – Brandon Flowers, Ronnie Vannucci, Dave Keuning and Mark Stoermer for those of you not familiar – made their Vegas show a special event.

Opening band Neon Trees kicked things off with a tight set of glammed-up synth rock that can only be described thusly: Duran Duran covering early U2 with Perry Farrell and Maynard James Keenan’s love child on vocals. Seriously. As good as they were, though, the question must be asked: How did this unsigned band get booked as the only supporting act for The Killers on its first two dates? We’re guessing Neon Trees bassist Branden Campbell had something to do with it – the Bonanza High School graduate played in a few local bands years ago with Vannucci (then again, who didn’t?), including an early lineup of Attaboy Skip.

Set list for Oct. 20 show
  • “When You Were Young”
  • “For Reasons Unknown”
  • “Smile Like You Mean It”
  • “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine”
  • “Somebody Told Me”
  • “Losing Touch” (new)
  • “Spaceman” (new)
  • “Sam’s Town”
  • “Read My Mind”
  • “Sweet Talk”
  • “Bones”
  • “Joy Ride” (new)
  • “Change Your Mind”
  • “Mr. Brightside”


  • “Human” (new)
  • “Shadowplay”
  • “Home Means Nevada”
  • “All These Things That I’ve Done”

By the time The Killers took to the HOB stage about 9:30 p.m., the crowd was more than warmed up – these people received the band as if it was bringing water to a desert-stranded party. According to some early arrivers we spoke to, people were lined up outside the venue since the previous night. That’s dedication, though we’re not sure it’s healthy. Either way, from the opening guitar strum of “When You Were Young,” the audience was in full sing-along, jump-along, whatever-along mode. And from the get-go, Flowers – who appears to have shed about 25 pounds from previous public appearances – gave a non-stop, expressive performance, proving that despite his sometimes-weak vocals, he has become a showman par excellence, a long cry from his shy beginnings. He may have worked too hard – the 27-year-old lead singer wasn’t feeling well enough to perform at the Warfield in San Francisco tonight, that show getting postponed to Dec. 12.

Augmented by 23-year-old Ray Suen on guitar, keyboards and violin, the band tore through fan favorites such as “Smile Like You Mean It,” “Somebody Told Me,” “Read My Mind,” “Bones” and “Mr. Brightside.” Local musician Tommy Marth joined the band for a few numbers on saxophone and background vocals, including the new song “Losing Touch,” a ‘70s throwback that sounds something like Bruce Springsteen teaming up with Bob Seger to perform a Jeff Lynne composition.

After a short break following a 14-song set, the band returned for an encore that included “Human” (which, admittedly, sounds much better live than on disc), Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” and the iconic closing number, “All These Things That I’ve Done.” Flowers paid tribute to his home state by singing “Home Means Nevada,” the state song that every elementary schooler learns by rote in the Silver State. It was a touching moment, even when the singer flubbed mid-song and started over.

Between the local loyalty, earnest showmanship and crowd-pleasing tunes, the band can be forgiven its questionable new songs (we didn’t even mention the all-out disco tune, complete with congas, did we?) and sometime-reliance on the crowd to do Flowers’ job. Love them or hate them, The Killers deliver when most needed, and people keep on loving them for it.

Contest: FREE Eagles of Death Metal show at Beauty Bar Las Vegas

October 20th, 2008

eagles of death metal

Did you know that Eagles of Death Metal is playing a totally free show at Beauty Bar Las Vegas (517 Fremont St.) on Nov. 4? No? Well, now you do. Josh Homme’s band that isn’t Queens of the Stone Age is headlining “Antics,” an Election Day after-party sponsored by Toyota Matrix. Did you know I drive a Matrix? No? Well, now you do.

As this is a party, not only will Eagles of Death Metal be rocking out, but there will also be DJs, T-shirt silk-screening and Rock Band playing inside customized Matrix models. And, of course, a bunch of anorexic boys and girls in skinny jeans drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon. Attendance is free, so long as you RSVP at the special Antics website. BUT …

Want to win some cool stuff as well? How about two VIP passes for the show? An Antics T-shirt? Um … how about we toss in a copy of Eagles of Death Metal’s new CD, Heart On? Sound good? Well, then, enter the VEGASinsight Eagles of Death Metal Contest now. It’s easy: Just drop an e-mail to eodmcontest@vegasinsight.net with your full name, mailing address and phone number, and we’ll pull a random winner from all e-mails received on Oct. 27. The rules are simple: You have to be over 21, and you have to submit your e-mail by 11:59 p.m. (PST) Oct. 26, 2008.

Good luck and remember: Early voting in Nevada started Oct. 18, so quit slacking and get voting!

Gallery: Bill Clinton stumps for Obama at Chaparral High

October 20th, 2008

Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton visited Chaparral High School in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 19 for a “Change We Need” rally in support of Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. He was joined by fellow Dems Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Shelley Berkley. The rally was held on the heels of former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama on Meet the Press yesterday.

If you missed it because you didn’t want to wait in the mile-long line outside the school yesterday, we have a nifty gallery of photos from the rally, captured by Bennett Lacy.

At The Fallout, Jeff Gillette gets horrifyingly funny

October 17th, 2008

Jeff Gillette

We know it’s been a few weeks since October’s First Friday, but while there’s still a month left to check it out, we wanted to tell you about an exhibit worth seeing now on display at The Fallout Gallery (1551 S. Commerce St. in the Commerce Street Studios). Available for viewing through Nov. 14, the various works by Jeff Gillette adorning the walls of The Fallout are split between two approaches.

One wall is dedicated to dozens of Gillette’s framed works featuring images from various sources altered to sometimes-perverse ends, pieces that Gillette casts as nearly throwaway items (selling them for $10 per). The other three walls of the gallery, however, feature a series of paintings juxtaposing images of pleasure and excess – notably Las Vegas casinos and Disneyland – with visions of apocalyptic destruction and shantytowns.

Gillette said he uses photos of real slums from his own travels to India or found images on the internet for his paintings. In his eyes, these hastily-assembled shanties, composed of the discarded remains of signs, buildings, vehicles and other found items, could be coming to U.S. shores soon. Why?

“One word,” Gillette said. “Bailout. If it doesn’t work, then we’re screwed.”

If it seems like a bleak perspective, it helps to know a little more about the artist. In his artist statement, Gillette claims that he prefers the overwhelming “filth, degradation and poverty” of India to the “clean, orderly and happy” atmosphere he experienced when he was finally “dragged, kicking and screaming” to Disneyland at 38 years of age. But that disconcerting paradigm is something of which Gillette is fully aware.

“It is absurd. It is irreverent. It is horrifying,” he said of his art. “It is funny.”

Check out an exclusive gallery of photos from the sixth anniversary of First Friday by C. Moon Reed.