In a world routinely committing crimes against rock culture (Tuscan Orange Grapefruit Michelob Ultra?!), it’s gratifying to see little pockets of rebellion still clinging to the social calendar. True, some may have hotter go-go dancers than traditional rock venues (no fresh scars or anything), could be located inside a casino rather than Downtown or by UNLV and might be cleaner and smell better overall, but please, try not to hold that against them.
Wasted Space opened last month at the Hard Rock with all the hoopla befitting the arrival of a major Vegas nightclub. With the black carpet (a nice touch) and drapery packed away, what remains is a smart little rock club with plenty of potential and a whole lot of heart. I mean Hart. No, I do mean heart. Despite the fact that part-owner and famed freestyle motocrosser/reality-TV star/Pink’s ex Carey Hart is not in permanent residence, the place doesn’t suffer while the king is away. There’s a vast and dedicated staff holding it down for him, especially on Wasted Wednesday’s DJ’d industry night and Tuesday’s live indie night; weekends bring headliners and tourists.
“Call drinks are free for ladies right now,” our bartender informs Deanna and me. She’s pretty chipper for a woman in a corset and garter belt; the men don’t have it all that much better, in button-down collared shirts and vests. Her giggle infects me. “She’s no lady!” I assure her, thumbing at Deanna, who at first laughs, then catches my drift. I just nearly escape a beatdown, which is a shame as we are in a rock bar, and what’s more rock than a catfight?
Moments later the opening two-man “band,” Afghan Raiders, strike up their synthesizer and laptop—and their confetti and balloons. Duo Mikey and Beans’ sound is pretty advanced for such fresh-looking faces—Mikey looks and dances somewhat like Rick Astley; Beans wears his tambourine on his head.
Tuesday, August 5, 10:20 p.m.
Not being much of a concert-goer or a member of the Weekly’s live-music department (Team Noise, I suppose?), I sample the Raiders for nuances like I would a glass of wine. “Depeche Mode with a hint of Blaqk Audio,” I offer, which makes them my new favorite band. “Orgy,” declares Deanna. Told you she’s no lady.
I make a mental note to check them out again on Sunday, August 10, at Revolution Lounge. They only have four songs in their repertoire, but I’d still like to hear them again. Afghan Raiders is just one of myriad local bands who will be touring this new circuit of intimate in-casino rock venues—Revolution, Wasted Space, Diablo’s, McFadden’s and now even Mist have all given the DJ at least one night off. Arriving soon at New York-New York, Rok Vegas will bring a similar setup to Wasted Space, only with a stage rumored to be a smidge larger.
These venues join Beauty Bar, the Double Down and other pleasantly divey joints that purists will argue are the only real deal. But ask an emerging local band if they’re willing to take the stage inside the Hard Rock—rather than in the Hard Rock Café parking lot as was done in the past—and I’ll bet they’ll come running. In other words, with the Hive construction zone sitting untouched on the corner of Fremont East and Las Vegas Boulevard, and Emo’s never having even gotten that far, “emerging” is not a time to be that picky.
Wasted Space provides bands, DJs and rock lovers with all the necessary objects: rusted-chain and metal chandeliers, loud music, dark woods, two smoky bars, video poker, Jack Daniel’s and of course, leather ’n’ lace. Still, for a place touted as “the first anti-club” without “the velvet-rope dance-music scene,” I still see a lot of ropes. But as Vegas also demands bottle service, VIP booths, hosts, go-go dancers, DJs (Mikey Swift, Presto 1, Mike C, Sid Vicious, Frankie D., Mike Attack and Justin Hoffman), and a trendy bathroom setup (it’s truly coed), Hart threw in all that stuff as well. Being “rock” doesn’t have to mean being unaccommodating, does it?
I know, I know, the real Sid Vicious is probably spinning—and cursing and spitting—in his grave.