Cosmo’s big indie weekend collects a six-pack of quality performances

Alex Turner (right) and his Arctic Monkeys mates got the Cosmo pool party going on Friday.
Photo: Scott Harrison/RETNA

The last time Bright Eyes played Las Vegas, at House of Blues in October 2004, leader Conor Oberst acted like a kid ready to start a fight. It was tough to blame him. The pathetic turnout (maybe 350) was bad enough, but when a chunk of that puny audience began chattering over the music, Oberst started singing his song “Waste of Paint” directly at them, as if words might set the offenders on fire.

The Details

TV on the Radio and Arctic Monkeys
four stars
September 23
Bright Eyes
three and a half stars
September 24
Both at Cosmopolitan pool

A lot’s changed in the seven years since. Las Vegas has matured into a town that can command the booking of six left-of-mainstream bands in a single weekend at a single Strip hotel. And Oberst has grown into a guy who can crack a joke when he looks across a less-than-packed crowd and sees a glowing replica of the Eiffel Tower. “It reminds me of my time in gay Paree, painting the sidewalks for the occasional baguette,” he laughed midway through his headlining set Saturday night.

TV on the Radio

TV on the Radio

The fun for Vegas’ indie-music crowd actually started 24 hours earlier, when Chicago’s Smith Westerns, the sort of rising garage-rockers who typically play the Beauty Bar or Bunkhouse, took the stage at the Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool. A few knowing early arrivers sang along with catchy blog single “Weekend.” Next up: Sheffield, England quartet Arctic Monkeys, who drew the biggest throng and the loudest reaction. It wasn’t undeserved; frontman Alex Turner and his mates played a super-tight slew of tunes from their four records, demonstrating how far they’ve come since bursting onto the scene as teenagers in the mid-2000s. And then it was finally time for TV on the Radio, the Brooklyn band that’s opened for other acts in Las Vegas twice (The Faint and Franz Ferdinand) but never headlined here before Friday. Sometimes criticized for their show not living up to their superb catalog, singer Tunde Adebimpe, guitarists Kyp Malone and David Sitek and the rest delivered most everything their fans could ask for: a smart setlist, sustained energy and a fiery finish onstage that inspired a strangely intense indie moshpit below.

Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes

Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile took it down a few notches when Vegas’ musically hip reassembled in the same spot one night later, kicking off his opening set with acoustic number “Runner Ups.” The singer/guitarist and his backing Violators bulked up their blues/folk sound a bit from there, and their understated performance went down as a highlight of the weekend. LA’s all-female foursome Warpaint took the baton next, delivering a dreamy 45 minutes heavier on overall feeling than memorable songs. Bright Eyes then brought Cosmo’s mini-Coachella to a close with a colossal two-hour turn that dragged only during Oberst’s lengthy encore band intros. He blended tunes from new album The People’s Key with old cuts deep and famous. He played ballads, rockers and countrified folk tunes. He even granted a rare request (“First Day of My Life”) for a couple celebrating an anniversary. Maybe Conor loves our town after all. Or maybe not. “This next song’s about the end of the world,” he said, “which I can’t help but think about when I come to Las Vegas.”

Arctic Monkeys setlist:

"Library Pictures"


"This House Is a Circus"

"Still Take You Home"

"Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair"

"Pretty Visitors"

"She's Thunderstorms"

"Teddy Picker"

"Crying Lightning"

"Brick by Brick"

"The Hellcat Spangled Shalala"

"The View From the Afternoon"

"I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor"

"If You Were There, Beware"

"Suck It and See"

"Do Me a Favour"

"Fluorescent Adolescent"

"When the Sun Goes Down"

TV on the Radio setlist:

"Halfway Home"

"The Wrong Way"

"Dancing Choose"

"Second Song"

"Golden Age"

"Will Do"

"Young Liars"

"New Cannonball Blues"

"Red Dress"


"Staring at the Sun"


"Wolf Like Me"




Kurt Vile setlist:

"Runner Ups"

"Jesus Fever"

"On Tour"


"Ghost Town"


"Freak Train"

"Baby's Arms"

Bright Eyes setlist:

"Four Winds"

"Trees Get Wheeled Away"

"We Are Nowhere and It's Now"

"Take It Easy (Love Nothing)"

"Jejune Stars"

"Lover I Don't Have to Love"

"Shell Games"

"Arc of Time (Time Code)"

"Cartoon Blues"

"No One Would Riot for Less"

"Hot Knives"

"Gold Mine Gutted"

"First Day of My Life"

"Another Travelin' Song"

"I Believe in Symmetry"

"Ladder Song"


"The Calendar Hung Itself"

"Road to Joy"

"One for You, One for Me"

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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