Free as a Bird

The Cosmopolitan Book & Stage’s free concert series, which began in January and has drawn crowds with edgy acts such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, has inspired other gaming properties to experiment with on-the-house rock in a casino showroom setting. It looks like a win-win deal for everyone.

On Feb. 17, the Palms announced free shows at the Lounge, starting with last Friday’s ex-Hot Water Music frontman turned alt-country troubadour Chuck Ragan. Other freebies include “college-radio cover band” Red Eye Radio (March 4), and a Planet LA Records bash (March 11) with female-fronted SoCal rockers Evolove.

“We’re mixing local and regional acts from various genres to create interest from tourists and locals,” says Michael Goodwin, entertainment director at the Palms.

The Palms expects to increase bar sales to offset the cost of paying bands. But the main goal, says Goodwin, is to show off the Lounge to customers. Indeed, as many entertainers and music critics (including this one) can attest, the Lounge is a comfortable venue with a great stage and sound.

Jumping on the bandwagon, another groovy venue, Crown Theater in the Rio announced its own run of free shows called Monday Night Rocks. Here, “free” involves visiting and printing tickets, so it’s not as easy as walking into a club and more of a word-of-mouth approach. The series launches March 7 with a performance by (less-indie) neo-soul sister Sophie B. Hawkins. Other free concerts include alt-rock trio Marcy Playground (“Sex and Candy”) on March 21.

Darin Feinstein, owner of Crown, which hasn’t offered free concerts before, says he’s not looking to make money on Monday Night Rocks. Instead, he’s bringing in bands to revive a music scene that has been on life support in some respects.

“But the bands [we book] are all well known with Top 10 Billboard hits,” he adds. “The series was created for industry people so they can save money and still find entertainment as our economy recovers.”

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By Jarret Keene