On Sunday morning, I stepped into an elevator at Palms Place. Walking alongside me was a young lady wearing shorts and a bikini top under a T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. The shirt read “Where Do I Get My Weed?” over an image of a marijuana plant.
Her eyes were concealed by large sunglasses, and she sipped from a bottle of Miller Lite. By 11 a.m., just 15 minutes away, that bottle would likely be empty.
As the doors pulled shut, another young guy cut into the compartment. He also seemed bound for the beach, in shorts and flip-flops and a multicolored tie-dye T-shirt. He asked the girl, “You here for EDC?”
“Yeah, I was there last night,” she said, staring toward the ceiling as if summoning a higher power. “Dude, I have not slept since I’ve been here.”
“You don’t sleep at EDC,” the guy said as the doors opened, spilling the young revelers to the pool deck and me to Sunday brunch at Simon Restaurant & Lounge, swapping those dressed for EDC for those dressed in jammies.
I didn’t visit EDC this time around, but it visited me. I hit a half-dozen Las Vegas hotel-casinos this weekend: Plaza, Cosmopolitan, Palms, LVH and both Rocks (Red and Hard). The EDC crowd was abundant, walking in clusters in their neon summer suits and furry boots. They were like The Pod People, everywhere and nowhere, although I would like to see — at least once — a mass of them huddled around a blackjack or Pai Gow table. To help keep Nevada green, as it were.
I am certain the third staging of EDC was a spectacle, and I am glad (primarily as one who appreciates any mass gathering) that the show is back at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2014. In a statement today, LVMS President Chris Powell said:
"Absolutely EDC is coming back. Insomniac produced one of the best festivals in history this weekend. And we're excited to see what Pasquale Rotella and his team come up with next year. They are terrific partners for the Speedway and the entire Las Vegas community.”
Powell said a date would be finalized "in the coming weeks.” This means hang the costumes back in the closet, not in storage.
"As for a date, that's something we'll be finalizing in the coming weeks."
And for those of us not attending EDC, it was just a typical weekend, jammed with activity, in VegasVille.
Time to rake the scene:
• Steve-O does something unusual after performing at Hard Rock Hotel, and, no, it’s not what you’re thinking. The first half of the “Original Pranksters” comedy team, the other half being Tom Green, hangs out after the show to take photos of any and every fan who wants such a keepsake. He doesn’t just pose. He shoots the photos himself, giving the subjects full editorial approval, then loads the images on his website, SteveO.com. From there, fans can move the images to their own Facebook or Twitter pages, print them out, do whatever they like with them. It’s genius — everyone who wants a photo is driven to the website of Steve-O, and he has hung back for as long as it takes to take those pics.
• Over the weekend, the band in “Raiding the Rock Vault” did a face-off with the audience by pulling on Las Vegas Wranglers jerseys during their show at LVH. This was at the suggestion of band member and Heart guitarist (and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) Howard Leese.
Why would a member of Heart suggest wearing the jerseys of a minor-league hockey team on a Las Vegas stage? Multiple reasons: Leese remembered that the Eagles were known to wear hockey jerseys (likely, L.A. Kings jerseys) while performing "Hotel California," which is a song in the “Rock Vault” production. Also, L.V. Wranglers President Billy Johnson is friendly with Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot, "This Is Spinal Tap") and onetime Asia member John Payne, co-creator of the show and the bassist/vocalist of the band. As such, Johnson has access to stacks of hockey jerseys. So he had customized jerseys made with the last names of each band member, and midway through the song — at the “chord change,” for you music types — they turn around to show their names. For those who know the back-story, it’s hilarious. For those who don’t, it also is hilarious and somewhat confusing.
And, a subsequent note: The upcoming guest vocalist for “Rock Vault” from July 5-9 is Mickey Thomas of Starship, the offspring (with apologies to Andrew Freeman) of the original Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. Thomas’ outfit is Starship, a band whose female lead singer is the eminent Stephanie Calvert of Las Vegas, who has worked in “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” among other productions. With “Rock Vault,” Thomas’ set is expected to feature “Jane,” “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Thomas will join for the show’s ’80s segment, which is the production’s strongest stretch, we say with a great deal of bias.
• The Plaza is forcing its will in its attempt to become the entertainment center of Fremont Street. Louie Anderson is set to headline the hotel’s showroom beginning July 10. (Incidentally, Anderson is seeking an apt opening act, and not a comedian, to kick off his shows at the Plaza. Go to [email protected] to submit a performance clip or for contact with Anderson.)
Already, the Plaza has its own comedy-room partnership with Joe Sanfelippo and his Bonkerz Comedy Club, a 100-seat room just off the casino floor. The showroom’s prize at the moment is the comically and vocally superb Phat Pack, starring Ted Keegan, Bruce Ewing and Randal Keith. All three were members of the “Phantom — the Las Vegas Spectacular” cast at The Venetian and have extensive stage experience elsewhere (Keegan with the touring production of “Phantom,” Ewing with “Forever Plaid” at Flamingo and Gold Coast and Keith with “Les Miserables”). On Sunday afternoon, Keegan was away to tend to family concerns, and Kristen Hertzenberg (Christine in “Phantom,” to keep the “Phat” theme intact) answered a somewhat desperate call to perform short notice.
It was a wonderful show but somewhat disheartening to experience the performance in a showroom about a third full. These are some top-tier entertainers, as good as you will find anywhere. So, you need to find them, and at 5 p.m. daily at the Plaza is where you can.
• It is a rite of passage that each time Matt Goss’s contract with Caesars Palace is about to expire, we await verification that he will continue his run at The Gossy Room. Gosstradamus’ contract is up at the end of the month, and official word is that new dates for him at the venue once referred to lovingly as Cleopatra’s Barge will be announced soon.
That’s good to know. The scene is replete with speculation about the future of that particular venue. For the past couple of years, at least, it has been widely expected that the Barge will eventually be taken apart and improved. Taking it apart would, in fact, be an improvement, as Goss and hotel officials have worked impressive wizardry to create a very cool show in a venue teeming with challenges (starting with a stage filled with dancers and musicians that is surrounded by a moat). We’ll see what happens, but Goss says he is a Caesars man and that he’s not going anywhere.
In the interim, MotoGoss has been motoring along finishing his formally upcoming album, “Life You Imagine,” produced by the ever-kinetic Ron Fair. Goss also has signed with Decca Records for the album’s U.K. release, and the first single is a favorite from the live show, “When Will I Be Famous,” which is a great song if only because it talks of a person’s picture in the paper, which still remains a reliable measure of fame.
• Wednesday’s Cast Party at Smith Center was a great deal of fun, as anticipated, with Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch summoning a wide range of performers to the Cabaret Jazz stage. The show was fun and ran late and seemed to be assembled on the fly; Clint Holmes walked in at the start and was asked to the stage to open the performance, and he didn’t realize until he took the mic that he was chewing gum. Caruso called up acts he’d scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper — “Is Erich Bergen here yet? Erich! Your turn!” — like that. Yes, that is to indicate Bergen, once of "Jersey Boys" at Palazzo and the reigning Prince of Showcases, was in the house.
The next Cast Party at Cabaret Jazz is set for Oct. 9. The event will likely alternate (and sometimes even share) months with Composers Showcase, helmed by Keith Thompson, who also performed Wednesday. The difference between the two is that Thompson’s long-running presentation is for composers and Caruso’s long-running presentation is (primarily) for performers. Thompson’s is a tightly run 90-minute performance; Caruso’s is a loosely constructed party that can run — and Wednesday, did run — past midnight. But at Cabaret Jazz, there seems room for everyone.