Year in Review
1. Laura Jane Grace (May 26, Beauty Bar) In one of the former Tom Gabel’s first appearances after publicizing her gender dysphoric condition, the Against Me! frontwoman played a surprise acoustic set, the best performance of an amazing Punk Rock Bowling festival.
2. Fun. (August 16, Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool) It’s always nice to see a band you’ve followed for years make it big and host a full-fledged dance party on a Las Vegas hotel rooftop.
3. Portugal. The Man (April 5, Silverton’s Silverado Veil Pavilion) PTM shook the Veil’s antler-chandeliers with blues-rock jams during its very “Man-tastic” performance.
4. Melvins (October 23, LVCS) During the 49th show on its record-breaking 51 States in 51 Days tour the trio showed no signs of road fatigue, almost literally blowing the doors off the Downtown club.
5. Gwar (April 9, Hard Rock Cafe, Strip) The disgusting, over-the-top lunatics left fans covered in fake blood and rubber body parts. Can they have a Vegas residency? Please?
1. Thee Oh Sees (March 9, Beauty Bar) I walked in knowing little about Thee Oh Sees and less about opener White Fence. I walked out sticky with sweat and beer after a show that hit the sweet spot between rowdy and danceable, catchy and complex.
2. The Hives (September 13, Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool) The tuxedoed Swedes don’t take bored for an answer. Despite the small, ambivalent crowd, they howled, strutted and strummed until the scene at the pool turned into a raucous splash-riot.
3. k.d. lang (July 13, Smith Center) Her voice literally made me shiver and was rivaled only by her charm and swagger.
4. Moonface (September 15, Beauty Bar) Moonface proved that its echoing soundscapes are meant to be experienced live, while opener A Crowd of Small Adventures got me excited about what’s in store from the local scene.
5. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks (February 25, Beauty Bar) Raw, loud and long—an up-close-and-personal treat made even better by the fact that I came straight over from Die Antwoord at House of Blues. Only in Las Vegas.
1. Eddie Vedder (November 1, the Pearl) A transcendent night where performer and audience were in perfect harmony. Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis Three and the crowd’s donations to charity put it over the top.
2. The Drums (May 13, Body English) I went in with no expectations and came out a huge fan. Indie rock dance party (and all-ages show) at its finest.
3. Madness (April 14, House of Blues) The year of the New Wavers, led by this high-energy, horn-laden British nine-piece. An absolute joy in front of a rowdy, skankin’ crowd.
4. Robert Randolph and the Family Band (September 20, Vinyl) A fiery start to a brand new venue, from the steel-pedal virtuoso and his equally skilled band.
5. Andrew W.K. (March 9, Body English) The biggest bash of the year, thrown by the talented party rocker. Special because it was the last concert I got to see with my friend Tommy Marth.
1. Peter Gabriel (October 5, Planet Hollywood) Everything you’d want from the British icon’s stage return, from eye-popping staging to a So-anchored setlist. Best of all: the quality of his vocals.
2. Moonface (September 15, Beauty Bar) The stench of back-alley trash was no match for Spencer Krug’s emotional performance. A Neon Reverb all-timer.
3. D’Angelo (September 7, the Pearl) Performing in support of Mary J. Blige, the long-M.I.A. R&B hero showed serious signs of life.
4. Mike Watt (November 3, Vinyl) He played his latest album straight through. Terrible idea? Not even close.
5. Metz (November 10, Beauty Bar) The coldest Vegas night I can remember and a crowd determined to mosh its way warm. The Toronto trio provided the right soundtrack.