Friday, April 24, 9 p.m.
The Hard Rock Pool is actually a remarkably beautiful place when Rehab isn’t beating it within an inch of its life. At night, the landscaping lights can do their thing twinkling up from underneath palms of every variety; the sounds of the water features aren’t drowned out by a guest DJ’s bass; and the sleek new tower makes a sexy backdrop for the Friday Night Live logo being projected upon it.
Onstage, a scrubbed-clean Rusted Root jams away on guitars, drums and an assortment of maracas, far away from its nomadic, desert-romping persona of the late ’90s. The youngsters in the audience have only Ice Age’s “Send Me on My Way” to reference, but those of us who enjoyed a steady diet of Dave Matthews Band, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Blues Traveler and other “fratty” bands (as my cubicle neighbor would describe them) during college remember Rusted Root as music to hacky-sack to. It’s the perfect setting for kicking off your shoes and stomping wildly—as many do—to the lighthearted, primal, eco-friendly beats. Except for lingering spring winds, it’s the quintessential summer poolside concert.
And therefore, I think it’s time for a public-service message.
With so many Vegas nightclubs in questionable health, casinos are increasingly turning to live music to save the day. Live music is one of the few things left that people still seem to be willing to peel their ass off their couch for, so promoters are booking singer-songwriter showcases at bars, intimate acoustic performances in restaurant lounges and bangin’ mini-concerts in mega-clubs alongside the DJs. If you think I’m drinking Rusted Root’s bong water, just leaf through this very magazine. Or last week’s issue. Or the week before.
So while I rock out to “Ecstasy”, you enjoy this little live-music rundown:
It is what it is. when a club flier says that a recording artist, rapper or band is coming, expect a wallet- and time-friendly mini-concert, maybe three to five songs. They could be lip-syncing from the DJ booth, singing along live to a track à la Paris, or bringing out the whole band, as with Otherwise’s nine-song, 45-minute acoustic set at Brand last Thursday. LAX/Pure’s Summer Surprise concert series has set up permanent shop this time around as LAX Live, bringing bands like Everclear in for “a few of their hits.” The Show Wednesdays at Rok Vegas books more urban acts like Tone Loc and Warren G. Just remember that a “rare, intimate, acoustic set” or “evening with” usually indicates a casual, short-ish, low-tech-y performance.
Expect two to three hours of fun, familiar covers and unique, original music. My favorite of these had to come courtesy of Chris Clouse, who gained great exposure through the Rock ’n’ Roll Wine events of yore and is now more often found in San Francisco or abroad, though he does make stops back in Vegas. Vegas’ best resident singer-songwriters include: Jeremy Cornwell (Hawaiian Tropic Zone, Blue Martini); Brother Luke (Sunday Night Live, Mist); Rustyn Vaughn Lee (Ra Sushi); Sharon Paquette (Freakin’ Frog) and the emerging young Roxy Gunn. Check out Acoustic Invasion Thursdays at Casa di Amore, Acoustic Strip Thursdays at the House of Blues, Resodence Mondays at the Freakin’ Frog and Diablo’s Rock the Roof battle of the bands every Sunday from now until November.
Poolside concert series
For even more poolside sounds this summer, the Red Rock Pool has a Saturday-night drum circle starting at 7 p.m. The Fosters Poolside Concert Series returns this summer to Voodoo Beach, beginning with the Spin Doctors on May 21. And of course, Friday Night Live continues at the Hard Rock pool with Eek-a-Mouse, Ozomatli, Sugar Ray, Gavin Rossdale, the Gin Blossoms and more.
Just three more ways to get your band and jam, too.