I’ll be honest: I had my heart broken a few times this year. Like when indie-folk duo The Swell Season canceled their August performance at Crown Theater due to poor ticket sales. And when Crown killed off its live music offerings not long after opening and devolved into a DJ-infested nightclub. And when Wasted Space shuttered mere weeks after I’d basked in the doom-metal glory of Saint Vitus. And when two-thirds of Afghan Raiders defected to San Francisco.
Despite such setbacks, there were dazzling heights. The three-day indie-rock extravaganza Matador at 21 at The Pearl. Ratatat ripping apart House of Blues. Them Crooked Vultures descending on The Joint. Two tasty shots of Neon Reverb. Sting. The Eagles. AC/DC. The Cult. A Perfect Circle. Roger Waters. Not to mention the incredible local acts that hit their stride: Minor Suns, Imagine Dragons, Pan De Sal, A Crowd of Small Adventures. So much great live music packed into 365 days. Is it any wonder that Las Vegas was recently named No. 4 among the top 10 U.S. cities in which to experience live rock music?
Last month, Songkick.com, a live-music resource website, bestowed this honor upon our town. To arrive at Vegas’ rock score of 51 (Austin, Texas, received a perfect score of 100), Songkick considered 2010 tour dates for rock artists and calculated which cities had “the most rock concerts per capita.” (Although the average ticket price here is a bit high at $62.76.) Vegas beat out Seattle and Portland? It’s because we get the best of the best.
Case in point: The two-night Leonard Cohen run at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (Dec. 10 and 11). What can I say about this concert? How about: If you miss it, you lack a soul. All you Dylanologists out there can take a hike down on Highway 51, because the world’s greatest rock bard is Cohen, whose lyrics carry biblical weight and an unabashed melancholy grandeur. He’s a gruff-voiced torch singer at world’s end, a Sinatra of the Last Days. I hate the movie Natural Born Killers, but Cohen’s song “The Future,” which plays during the credits is a song that’ll haunt me to my grave. Everybody has covered a Cohen tune, because he has written so many masterpieces such as “Everybody Knows” and “Hallelujah.” I hope he’ll play them all this weekend.
Goddamn, look what else is happening! On Dec. 10, Imagine Dragons open for Temper Trap at Hard Rock Café, Yes frontman Jon Anderson performs at Ovation at Green Valley Ranch and Dave Matthews draws the hippies to Planet Hollywood. Dave also plays on Dec. 11, when Andrea Bocelli blows away the MGM Grand Garden Arena. On Dec. 15, Brandon Flowers helps kick off the opening of the Cosmopolitan by performing songs from his solo album, Flamingo. You can win tickets on the hotel’s Facebook and Twitter, or you can watch the concert live on its marquee.
I don’t want to live anywhere else for live music. You shouldn’t either. All my friends who moved to Portland, Seattle and San Francisco? Suck it! (Just kidding.)