Going Underground

There are a LOT of entertainers in this town. Some are working. Some are looking. Some just used to. Get a bunch of them together and you usually wind up with something strong.

That’s the case every Monday night when the Tap House (5589 W. Charleston Ave.) hosts “The Vegas Underground.” It’s technically an open-mic night, but this isn’t a place where you can walk up and put your name on a list to sing your favorite Garth Brooks song. You have to have a bona fide pedigree to get the mic here.

The performers are almost all showbiz vets or working artists. Many played the lounges at a time when lounge shows were a force in Las Vegas. Others are between gigs, or maybe just off on Monday nights. Several are tribute artists—good ones—so you might catch an Elvis or a Sammy or a Neil. Regardless, these guys and girls sing their hearts out. For a few, the showcase is a chance to audition for real gigs (you never know who might be in the audience on a given night), but usually it’s just a chance for performers who used to be a part of the scene to shine one more time in front of their peers.

The talent is good, the band is live, and the dance floor fills up whenever dancers are invited out. It’s a fun night. But there’s something else going on. Did you ever wonder where old Vegas wise guys hang out? This is one of the places. They don’t wear nametags, but you can probably pick ’em out (these guys have a style; it’s just not today’s style). Don’t worry, the Tap has long been a gathering place for some of Vegas’ more colorful types, and they love Underground for the nostalgia. They tell good stories, and everyone (usually) behaves—it’s just another part of the show.

Maybe the best part of it all is the deal. Admission is free. The evening starts at 7:30 and runs till midnight, so that’s almost five hours of entertainment for nothing. Drinks are cheap, starting at $3 for a beer, and the Tap’s pizza ranks among the best in town.

If there’s a problem, it may be that it’s too popular. Underground holds court in the back banquet room and it’s packed, so there’s almost no chance of getting a seat unless you get there well before the start or have some serious juice. But that’s not really a problem. Standing works just fine, and you can always take a break by moving over to the adjacent bar section to watch the games or play one of the best shuffleboard tables in town.