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Viva Glasvegas: MySpace Secret Shows bring a Scotland band to the chapel

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Photo: Scott Den Herder

“They’re popping their cherry in a wedding chapel!” laughed Cameo McCarthy Wednesday night. A fan of Scottish band Glasvegas, McCarthy had been waiting for the band’s first Vegas performance since around 5:30 p.m. Armed with a bag of Tecates, she and other über fans shared a drink and stories outside the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.

And one would have to be a super fan of Glasvegas to even know about the free show. For the MySpace Secret Shows popping up around the country, fans have to check bulletins religiously to get the 411 on who will be playing and when and where the free gigs will be.

“I’m obsessed with Glasvegas and subscribe to their blog on MySpace,” explained Michelle Marchese. “My friends had no idea who they are,” she said, but after exposing them to the band, they were eager to hear Glasvegas live as well. “I’ve been writing and begging [the band] to come here.”

Glasvegas’ label and MySpace Secret Shows chose the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel as a concert hall, a first for Secret Shows, which typically take place in traditional venues.

A simple Internet search prior to last night’s performance yielded many results about the gig, prompting worries the show would be not-so secret. Yet, the number of attendees barely topped out at 100. Still, it wasn’t just Vegas residents waiting outside the chapel.

Glasvegas @ Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel

Phil from Scotland had seen Glasvegas back home and was in town on vacation. “I got a text from Scotland saying the band was playing here,” he said. “I’ve never been to a show like this before.”

“To see a band in the city they’re named after is awesome,” said Scott Valor from San Francisco. Also in town on vacation, he saw the announcement on Glasvegas’ MySpace page and decided to skip seeing Criss Angel with his friends (probably a wise decision). Even a groom from Ireland in the chapel for a tux fitting earlier heard Glasvegas would be playing and came back for the show.

When they finally let the line of wristband-ed attendees in around 9:30 p.m., fans filled the pews and a gazebo, patiently waiting for Glasvegas, who took the stage a little after 10 p.m.

Drummer Caroline McKay got in on the chapel theme and donned a wedding dress for the gig, back lit by charmingly tacky hearts that looked as if they were snagged off another chapel’s sign up the street. The fog machine cranked and vocalist James Allan, Rab Allan on guitar and Paul Donoghue on bass eased into their set with “Geraldine” while the song’s namesake sold merchandise outside.

Performing in a chapel with vaulted ceiling and backlit cathedral stained glass windows, the night took on a haunting, surreal feeling. Additional lighting was brought in for the show, though minimally appropriate. It was a bit difficult to see the band who were playing only a step or two higher than the crowd at the front of the chapel. The experience was still grandiose despite the small quarters.

Lindsey Bamm and Ricardo Delgadillo brought little ones along to the show. “It said ‘all ages’ so I figured ‘why not?’” Bamm said, as Delgadillo adjusted the tissue earplugs for one of the half-pints. “I was just driving down the street and remembered,” said Bamm, who has both Glasvegas and Secret Shows as friends on MySpace.

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Others also took advantage of the all-ages show and a few more kids were rocking out on their parents’ shoulders. Fortunately, singer James Allan’s Scottish brogue was so thick the tykes probably couldn’t understand the lyrics when Glasvegas launched into “Fuck You, It’s Over.”

“Flowers and Football Tops” sounded ten times sadder live than on the album with its ending cover of “You are my Sunshine.” Being in a chapel only made the song more tragically beautiful. Playing almost every track off their 2008 self-titled release (they thankfully left “Stabbed” out of the set), Glasvegas closed the hour-long performance with “Daddy’s Gone.”

“I’ve never heard of them, but I liked it,” said Adam, a security guard brought on for the show (The crowd was on perfect behavior all night).

Co-owner of the Viva Las Vegas Chapel, Jamie Richards, seemed pleased with the night. “I thought they were good,” he said. The unique set-up of the main chapel has allowed the venue to have small music performances before, but nothing this intricate. Richards said he might consider doing something on this scale again, “but weddings are always first,” he added.

The crowd filed out of the chapel, limited edition Glasvegas posters in hand and smiles on their faces. If you missed Glasvegas this time, they’ll be back on July 31 at the House of Blues. It’s a cool venue, but it’s no Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.

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