“Hello, guest list,” Fountains of Wayne frontman Chris Collingwood said by way of introduction as his band took the stage at Wasted Space last night. And yes, the small crowd at the club inside the Hard Rock might have included some VIPs, casino comps and, um, members of the media (as well as an older lady Collingwood introduced as his former neighbor). But the people crowded around the stage were clearly excited to be there, no matter how they scored their tickets, and the band didn’t disappoint, despite Collingwood looking a little under the weather (he kept a box of tissues at his feet for blowing his nose) and guitarist Jody Porter’s difficulties with a faulty amp cord.
The power-pop quartet raced through 18 songs from all four of its albums, plus one new number, “The Summer Place,” introduced as from a forthcoming release still in the process of being recorded. For some reason, this indie-leaning band always ends up booked in the most inappropriate venues in Vegas; I saw these guys at the Palms pool in 2004, with terrible sound and an indifferent crowd more interested in lounging and drinking, and then at the Joint in 2007, moved inside from the Hard Rock pool due to inclement weather, with another sparse audience focused on the open bar.
Wasted Space wasn’t much more suitable, but this time at least perfectly crafted pop-rock nuggets like “Red Dragon Tattoo” and “Bright Future in Sales” (not to mention the requisite “Stacy’s Mom”) got the attention they deserved. One superfan even yelled for “Troubled Times” between every song, and finally got his wish during the encore. Maybe Vegas does care after all.