The night of July 14 erupted, Mount Vesuvius-like, in the Lounge at the Palms. This is where, on occasional Saturdays, an unbilled, quasi-organized showcase under the mysterious title Stifler is held around 11:30 p.m. At the center of the manic performance are Frankie Moreno and a few members of his band who headline Wednesdays through Saturdays at the Stratosphere.
For an idea of who turned up at this second Stifler rollout (the first was about a month earlier), champions of two of the nation’s top-rated contest shows took the stage: American Idol winner Taylor Hicks (headlining at Bally’s) and America’s Got Talent champ Michael Grimm (toggling dates at Green Valley Ranch and Aliante Station).
As Moreno and former ‘N Sync member Joey Fatone (currently in Dancing With the Stars: Live in Las Vegas at the Trop) muscled through saloon staple “Mustang Sally,” Hicks waded through the jammed audience and crawled onstage. He then produced a harmonica, played a searing solo on the instrument and swapped vocals with Fatone. Grimm was called up several minutes later for “Chain of Fools.”
Other mad happenings: Las Vegas stand-up Rob Sherwood opened with a 10-minute set and called out to Brad Garrett. Celebrity magician Murray Sawchuck (headliner at the Trop’s Laugh Factory) performed a trick in which he made a playing card disappear, only to reappear in a bottle of Crown Royal, a ubiquitous stage effect in Moreno performances. Paul Shortino (the esteemed Duke Fame from This Is Spinal Tap and former frontman of Rough Cutt and Quiet Riot) sang, and Golden Nugget’s chief headliner Gordie Brown took the stage for about 167 impressions in six minutes.
Melody Sweets from Absinthe sang two numbers. Dorimar Bonilla hustled up to dance to “Tangerine Honey,” her showcase song in Moreno’s Stratosphere performance. And at show’s end, a member of the Absinthe balancing duo, Michal Furmanczyk, climbed onstage, shed his shirt and mimicked Bonilla’s performance—as funny as any scripted scene you will see in Las Vegas.
The Stifler shows have already outgrown the room and thus are in danger of outgrowing their organic vibe, too. The crowd outside the Lounge at the Palms seemed to double the seated capacity of 228. Maybe there’s a new live-music venue opening at a slick resort that could be the vinyl—er, final—destination for these shows.