A curious week for live music in Las Vegas, and I’m curious to see a few intriguing bands. First, guitarist Les Dudek delivers dynamite blues-rock solos over pop-rock songs and instrumentals at 8 p.m. Oct. 18 at Boulder Station’s Railhead. Dudek has side-manned for everyone who’s anyone—Cher, Stevie Nicks, Boz Scaggs, Steve Miller Band. He even played lead guitar on the Allman Brothers Band’s “Ramblin’ Man.” (Freakin’ “Ramblin Man”!) Dudek hasn’t put out an album since 2003’s Freestyle, but he’s a seasoned road warrior who performs material from his solo albums as well as the many songs he co-wrote and recorded with others—for example, Scaggs’ “Jump Street,” on which Dudek plays slide guitar. If you’re a fan of cool classic rock, this is your show.
Darkwavers Cold Cave bring their icy, cavernous synthpop to Beauty Bar at 10 p.m. Oct. 19. Initially this band had triggered my “bad New Order tribute act” alarm. But in the year since sophomore release Cherish the Light Years on Matador Records, I’ve gained a true appreciation for Cold Cave’s electronic, dance-floor-resonating tunes. My faves include the moody “Confetti,” with its layers of keyboards, and the propulsive, noise burst-blessed “Icons of Summer,” a gothic daydream in which singer Wesley Eisold laments: I don’t want to die until a little light inside is found. Sure, it’s more hook-sweetened than many dark-wave disciples typically take their black nail-polished music, but genuine electronic-music fans should attend.
OK, so the real highlight for me will be avant-sludge-rock veterans Melvins, who will sonically level Artifice at 10 p.m. Oct. 23.
“Melvins Lite,” corrects singer/guitarist Buzz Osborne, reminding me he’s currently touring with a smaller, three-piece incarnation of his now nearly 30-year-old band. Indeed, the “Lite” tag confirms he’ll be joined onstage by bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle) and drummer Dale Crover in a classic power-trio format.
“I just don’t want some dork coming up after the show telling me how it wasn’t the full Melvins lineup,” Osborne says. “I don’t think I should have to listen to that. Generally speaking, we have more of a cult following. Pretty soon, though, I’m going to poison everyone, so we won’t even have that.”
Melvins may be for those with eclectic taste, but Osborne insists it was never an aim. “I didn’t even know we made weird music until the thousandth critic said we did,” he says. “We make music we’d like to hear. We operate our band the way we’d want other bands to operate. We’re not perversely doing something that we know millions of people won’t like.”
It’s likely hundreds of Artifice-goers will relish Melvins Lite’s hard assault. (The band just released its Freak Puke album June 5 and is concluding a Guinness World Record attempt to execute “the fastest tour of the U.S.” ever.) Besides, Osborne and Co. don’t earn many negative reviews. “Critics are always wrong,” Osborne says. “One of my favorite sayings is, ‘It’s in God’s hands. I just hope he remembered to wash them.’”