WANNA RIHANNA?: I don’t even know how to approach a force of nature such as Rihanna. The superstar diva, performing at Mandalay Bay on July 1 ($26-$143), is critic-proof, Chris Brown-proof and probably invulnerable to zombie attacks, so anything negative that’s been said about her current tour has to be taken for what it is: a spitball fired at the moon. In reviewing her June 10 show, Montreal Gazette writer Bernard Perusse flailed in his attempts to put Rihanna in perspective. He described the concert as a “lesson in how to sell sex and spectacle. … Music was mostly an afterthought. … The main concept seemed to be bumping, grinding, groping, straddling, black underwear and self-pleasuring.” And to borrow a popular phrase, there’s also a negative side, right?
Perusse does reveal some of the set list in his review, which I won’t give away here—suffice to say that she hits all the hits, and does a wholly appropriate cover of a certain purple-clad Minneapolis artist—and he grudgingly admits that the show is “visually arresting,” giving special mention to a number Rihanna performs in a glow-in-the-dark bikini.
So, how does one approach Rihanna? With great expectations that you can safely expect to be fulfilled. And maybe also a blacklight.
FREE BANGS: Forgive me for putting on my back-in-the-day hat, but I’d like to remind you how lucky we are to have the Cosmopolitan’s Book & Stage venue. Back in the day, a band such as Knoxville, Tenn., alt.-dance-rock trio Royal Bangs—playing the B&S June 30 to July 3, with no cover charge—would have been stuck in a package of bands at the Huntridge, if they came to Las Vegas at all. Today, we can enjoy a group that was discovered and signed by Patrick Carney of the Black Keys—a band that MusicEmissions.com writer Benjy Oliver calls “a great band [that] will only become greater”—for the price of a few cocktails. Know what I call that, Vegas haters? Progress.
NOW ON SALE: Erasure brings its glorious disco cabaret to the Palms on Sept. 30 ($35-$65). I’ve seen Erasure several times over the years, most recently three years ago—and they’re as constant as dance pop itself. Go to the show and you’ll be surprised by how many of the band’s songs you know, and how much you enjoy them.