If you see me walking around with a big smile on my face, it’s because one of my Top 10 favorite songwriters of all time, Pat DiNizio, is playing not one but two shows in Las Vegas this weekend. First, his landmark powerpop band The Smithereens perform Sept. 25 at Red Rock Resort (10 p.m., $22). The next evening, Sept. 26, DiNizio plays a quieter, but likely no less powerful, solo set at Las Vegas Country Saloon (7 p.m., $10) on Fremont Street.
The Smithereens’ most famous tune is 1989’s “A Girl Like You,” a Kinks-meets-AC/DC rave-up that still holds up. The band’s 1986, as-heard-on-Miami Vice hit “Blood and Roses” and the 1992 soul music-flirting “Too Much Passion,” which charted on Billboard also still ring true. When grunge came to dominate, the Smithereens got lost in the amplifier-cranked avalanche, and began to release material infrequently. But the band has taken a new tack in recent years with a series of covers albums, including The Beatles (2007’s Meet the Smithereens) and The Who (2009’s The Smithereens Play Tommy). Don’t expect too many covers, though. I enjoyed a Smithereens set a few years back at the Suncoast, and all their originals sound like classic hits anyway. This Red Rock show is going to rule!
DiNizio most recently paid tribute to Buddy Holly with a collection of rocked-up covers called, well, Pat DiNizio & Buddy Holly. The songs here are re-imagined in a louder, Smithereens-ish way, but the core of Holly’s wide-eyed, melancholy pop remains intact. At LVCS, DiNizio will perform on acoustic guitar, and he’ll tell funny stories about his journey from New Jersey garbage man to L.A. hitmaker. It’ll be a nice aperitif to the eardrum-ringing set at Red Rock.
Fellow Vegas metalheads, in case you haven’t already heard, the city’s black-metal bastion Clovenhoof Productions has canceled its remaining Lady Luck Bar & Grill shows for the year, citing poor turnout and scene apathy. Can’t say I blame him, as I was often among the small turnout and wondering, “Where the hell is everyone?!” Still, it’s a loss for anyone hoping to catch a pure, corpse-painted black-metal event, as Clovenhoof attracted the best bands from the genre—for example, Nightbringer and Nazxul. Fortunately, Cheyenne Saloon and Yayo Taco are still bringing in plenty of doom, death and crust-punk acts. In fact, I caught a wild and wooly set by U.K. deathcrusters Deviated Instinct on Sept. 9 at the latter venue, and I’m still reeling, it was that devastatingly good.
Autumn officially begins this week, which means I need to get my playlist in order. Here’s what I have so far: Big Star’s “September Gurls,” Frank Sinatra’s “Autumn Leaves” and “September of My Years,” American Music Club’s “Sleeping Beauty,” Bryan Ferry’s “September Song,” Leonard Cohen’s “True Love Leaves No Traces,” The Ataris’ “The Boys of Summer,” and The Stooges’ “We Will Fall.”