Couples sip wine as they gaze over the Strip from the Ravello Lounge’s glass balcony. The club just off the casino floor inside the M Resort, with its expansive cushy booths and elegant décor, hardly seems like the venue for a rock show. But that’s the agenda every Friday: free wine and rock ’n’ roll, a strange but enjoyable pairing.
The evening begins with singer-songwriter Rick Duarte, better known for his yacht-rock band The Guilty Pleasures. Honey-voiced troupe Dusty Sunshine then takes the stage for the quickly expanding crowd. An older couple is still formal dancing in the corner, but the mood has shifted slightly. People are here to see Dusty—and the headlining Lazystars.
For their first show since the release of their self-titled album, the Lazystars are barely recognizable. Their lineup has almost totally changed, apart from bassist Joshua Jackson and frontman Dave Hawkins. “Right before we went into the studio, we added keyboardist Adam Swanson and guitarist Brandon Leopard,” Hawkins explains. “It definitely changed our sound.”
But the most unexpected change was the departure of longtime drummer Brian Havens, recently replaced by Trevor Mayfield. Hawkins still sounds upset. “Brian’s departure has had a huge impact on our dynamics. We put a lot of time and hard work into the last three years, [and] at the drop of a hat, the week before our CD release, for him to move to Utah to find himself ...”
Although Hawkins calls the experience “really discouraging,” he says he found relief in discovering Mayfield and getting back to playing music.
As Hawkins observes, the Stars’ sound is definitely different. They’ve turned up their pop elements on tracks like “Light of Day” and “One of a Kind,” the former a stab at a Snow Patrol sound and the latter more of ’60s-inspired ditty with a sing-along feel, a contrast to the band’s once-new-wavey edge.
Change can be hard, but tonight, Lazystars loyalists don’t seem perturbed. And with the music broadening out, the band could be poised to attract an even more diverse fanbase.