Scorps on the lido deck: The Guilty Pleasures cover gold

The Guilty Pleasures
Photo: Bill Hughes

The Details

The Guilty Pleasures
Most Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, some Saturdays; 7 or 11 p.m.; free.
Mandalay Bay’s Mizuya Lounge
Official band website.

“I was the Kanye West of my time,” says Michael “Mack” Donald, purring that he once wrote a little song for a little band called Metallica. The crowd goes pretty bonkers for a Sunday night, partly because it’s cocktail hour and partly because most of them wandered into Mandalay Bay’s Mizuya Lounge without expectations and scored free admission to one of the most entertaining shows on the Strip. “Don’t applaud prematurely,” Mack says, giving his hair a toss before the band veneers the metal teeth of “Enter Sandman” with major chords and “smoothness.”

The Guilty Pleasures could easily do the radio version, but they’re not out to just cover the classics. Captain Anton Neil (drums, lead vocals) says he buries his face in adult contemporary jams and then shoots skeet during the break. Rico Riviera (bass, lead vocals) says the band honors the legacy of Hall & Oates and reveals the “smooth, unlikely origins of all things metal” (putting The Scorpions on the lido deck where they belong). Rodger Todd (keyboards, backing vocals) says the setlist makes people smile. And Chevy Chevelle (guitar, lead vocals) jokes that if you’re ashamed of yourself by the end of the show, they’ve done their job.

Watching Chevy smoke, sing and shred the solo of Toto’s “Hold the Line,” it’s hard to understand what he means. Then you see the old men boogying in golf shorts and the young “foxes” trying to stay aboard their stilettos. These are the songs everyone can sing to and no one can fight. Even in lesser hands they would get people moving, but these guys can really play, and they have no shame.

A strange woman asks if the sax player is David Arquette. I tell her I’d be surprised if he spent four nights a week playing Vegas in linen pants, but one never knows. They end the set with America’s “You Can Do Magic,” complete with a pantomimed chorus and Chevy sticking his pick to his face like a single tear.

When they’re not seducing audiences, they’re working on an album: Yacht Rock You Like a Hurricane. The following is proof I knew Chevy Chevelle when.

What’s the timeline for the album?

We are hoping to get it released by ’82; 2082 that is.

Yacht rock has an inherent silliness, yet it seems to appeal to all generations in a timeless way. What makes the style so irresistible?

The fact that “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is not part of it.

How did each of you go about crafting your stage personas?

It was just like the movie Gremlins, except it’s Scotch that you should never let us get near.

What’s sexier: the saxophone or the electric keyboard?

Neither. The Keytar.

Were any of the artists whose material you play serious influences?

Yes, we have been under the influence with Kenny Loggins on more than a few occasions.

Describe a typical band rehearsal.

Passive aggressive sniping turns to quiet dislike turns to begrudging respect.

Do you think audiences get that you’re in on the joke?

We hope so, but fans of Disturbed and Papa Roach don’t seem to get it until we start doing “Enter Sandman.” Actually no, they still don’t get it.

What’s your favorite venue to play in Vegas?

Thomas. And sometimes Mack.

Is that really scotch you’re drinking onstage?

Yes it is. We like the old stuff. They just don’t make scotch like they used to, mostly because of child labor laws.

If you could send a message to Will Ferrell, what would it be?

You are a sweaty pirate hooker.


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