Animal Collective, Morrissey and Ty Segall are live acts you expect to see performing at indie-rock extravaganzas such as Pitchfork Music Festival and Coachella, sure. But Vegas is drawing the best thanks to an established festival (Neon Reverb), bookers with good taste (Brandy Vinyl, who nabbed the Melvins for October) and the Cosmopolitan’s continued coolness. Here’s a list of upcoming shows that we had better see you at—or else we’re confiscating your hipster credentials!
Industry Nights: The Cosmopolitan hosts Sunset Sessions Nov. 8-10, which for the first time is open to the public. This industry event involves music directors from every media—TV, film, video games and advertising—along with record-company execs and music journos. But the real reason to drop in on this gathering is the Main Stage at Boulevard Pool, featuring a variety of artists such as the Parlotones, Susanna Hoffs and Steve Earle over the course of three evenings. Get this, though: You can’t buy tickets. Instead, you gain admission by committing time or donating money to a local nonprofit group. Cool, huh? More info at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.
Garage Rocked: Your favorite Vegas weeklong indie-rock extravaganza Neon Reverb (admission cost varies, see NeonReverb.com for updates) returns Sept. 11-16 with at least one headlining band that’ll make your hipster heart skip a beat. Indeed, neo-garage rocker Ty Segall’s hard and heavy release Slaughterhouse emerged earlier this year to rave reviews, and he has yet another disc ready for 2012, Twins, set to hit record stores and the Internet in October. Other great Neon Reverb shows to anticipate: AgesandAges (Bunkhouse, Sept. 13), Moonface and Foxygen (Beauty Bar, Sept. 15), and Hunx & His Punx and Shannon and the Clams (at the Festival Wrap Party, The Bunkhouse, Sept. 16).
A New Wave of Ant: Adam Ant is back, and judging from YouTube video clips circulating out of the U.K., he’s on his game. He’s back in the pirate garb and favoring the loud, raw Antmusic—“Zerox,” “Prince Charming”—over the processed R&B shit that killed his career. See him at the Hard Rock Café on the Strip, Sept. 14 ($28).
Animal Magnetism: One of today’s most acclaimed art-rock acts, NYC’s Animal Collective, claws its way into House of Blues on Sept. 25 ($30-$33). This experimental-psychedelic-electro quartet will be touring in support of their ninth studio album, Centipede Hz, slated for a September release. The disc’s first single, “Today’s Supernatural,” is grindingly, blindingly good and suggests the Collective’s HOB set will be louder and more freaked-out than what we’ve experienced before.
Guaranteed Results: Peter Gabriel is performing his classic album So at Planet Hollywood on Oct. 5 ($76-$271). There’s no possible way this show could be anything but amazing. Even if he screws up “Red Rain”—which he likely won’t—there’s still “Sledgehammer,” “Don’t Give Up” and “Mercy Street” to redeem him.
Indie Darlings: Critics loved the 2009 debut album by The xx. Now the band is coming to do an Oct. 10 poolside show at the Cosmopolitan ($37)—and they’ll be playing music from a hotly anticipated second album, Coexist. Will critics swoon? They should, and so should you. This New Order-ish dance rock band is the real fucking deal.
Sonic Punishment: Legendary sludge-punk-metal masters the Melvins ($20-$25)—the Washington-state band that inspired Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain to pick up a guitar—make their way to Las Vegas County Saloon on Oct. 23. They just released their 18th album, Freak Puke, which includes a cover of Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Let Me Roll It.” These guys rarely play Vegas, so don’t miss this one. Oh, and please bring earplugs!
Punky Holiday Tradition: Ring in the holidays with the buzzing, beer-fueled punk rock of Social Distortion, performing at House of Blues on Dec. 20 ($40). They’ll play festive songs such as “Prison Bound,” and Mike Ness will tell stories about how much cooler punk used to be. Glad tidings!
Fall albums on our radar …
AUG. 28: Local death-doom merchants Spun in Darkness team up with Virginia blackened-thrash trio Gravewürm for a split CD called Vengeance From Beyond the Grave on the Horror Pain Gore Death label. This is Spun’s sludgiest, heaviest, most old-school material to date.
Vegas Seven named Most Thieves the Best (Local) Breakout Band last year for a reason: This stadium-ready indie-rock group kicks ass, and their debut full-length album Unnecessary Maps is brimming with soaring rock tunes—“Muscle Memory,” “An Ocean Between,” “Archimedes.” Put this one on your must-buy list.
SEPT. 18: Local stars the Killers raise the rock ’n’ roll flag a bit higher with their fourth proper album, Battle Born, marking the band’s return after four years of studio silence. Lead single “Runaways” is pure driving music.
SEPT. 25: Punk-pop stalwarts Green Day begin the grandiose project of releasing three albums in five months with Uno!
OCT. 2: North Carolina neo-folk outfit The Mountain Goats go concept with Transcendental Youth, about the misfits and weirdoes of the world who strive (and fail) to fit into a straitjacket society. Literate and loose, the Goats are always good for a lo-fi thrill.