Free Fremont rock, molten mechadoom and foxy Lita

In this economy, I can’t pass up free shows. That’s why you’ll find me from time to time wandering the Fremont Street Experience, beer in hand among the tourists, taking in a show from the Rock of Vegas summer concert series that runs through Labor Day. Headliner Night Ranger blasts their hit power ballads (“Sister Christian”) on the 3rd Street Stage at 9 p.m. June 22. Rock of Vegas also features nightly local cover bands, including, this weekend, a production (specifically assembled for Fremont) called Rock Candy Sticky Sweet, which performs 8-11 p.m. Tue-Thu and Sat-Sun on the 3rd Street Stage. Dirty Pairadice plays 8-11 p.m. Thu-Mon on the 1st Street Stage. Arena plays 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Thu-Sat on the Main Street Stage.

Also on June 22, the artiest and noisiest show you’ll experience all year long, guaranteed: underground mechadoom superstar Author & Punisher, a.k.a. Tristan Shone, brings his punishing cyber-drone attack to Yayo Taco at 7 p.m. June 22. Shone built his own “instrument” out of steel, aluminum and esoteric technology, and the result is the sonic equivalent of Dante’s Inferno. His voice is mostly organic, but once you see this guy strapped to his suicide machine you’ll wonder how much of what he produces was created by evil robots. This is apocalyptic industrial-metal for people (like me) who enjoy such masochisms, and I can’t believe this show will be anything less than mind-bending. California avant-punk band Black Elk and local doom merchants Demon Lung open.

My fave femme fatale shredder, the Queen of Hard Rock Lita Ford, opens a butt-rock-tastic bill featuring Def Leppard and Poison at Red Rock Resort Amphitheatre at 7 p.m. June 23. Ford just released an album, Living Like a Runaway, which hearkens back to her ’80s glory days with savagely riffing tracks such as “Branded” and soaring melodic ballads such as “Mother.” The latter is particularly heartfelt as it describes, according to a Decibel magazine interview with Ford in May, her separation from her children after a painful divorce. She looks great; more importantly she sounds great, and if you ever had fun banging your head to killer old-school tracks such as “Kiss Me Deadly,” you’ll definitely dig Ford’s fierce new disc.

Cowtown Guitars is cranking its philanthropy to 11 with a drive to collect 100 guitars for a massive “guitar art” charity auction to benefit families affected by autism. Donations are tax-deductible, and the Autism Community Trust plans to distribute the guitars with the auction and reception in December. Guitars can be dropped off from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, at Cowtown, located at 1009 S. Main St. More info at

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Idina Menzel


Idina Menzel

By Steve Bornfeld

One helluva broad. Bold and saucy—with a voice they could’ve heard back at the Tony Awards, televised while the Tony-winner herself was entertaining Las Vegas—Idina Menzel is a broad in the best sense, her artistry delivered with salty, sassy-gal earthiness: Revealing how she sang “Love for Sale” to seduce her college vocal teacher. Then powerfully and poignantly interpreting the classic for what it really is—not playful flirtation, but soul-shredding heartache.