Your Rock ’n’ Roll Poolside Concert Primer

I love the smell of chlorine in the evening, along with the sound of amplified guitars and pounding drums. Which means it must be summer in Las Vegas, where the best concerts occur near bodies of water. Here’s a cool list of musical options in the coming months. Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan corners the indie-rock market by pouring the sonic equivalent of a bottomless, punked-up piña colada. Mandalay Bay Beach and Paradise Beach at the Hard Rock offer rad events, too. Other oases to keep an eye on for live music as the season grows hotter: the pool at South Point, M Resort’s DayDream Day Pool (with DJs spinning on weekends), and the pool at Red Rock Resort:

May 30: Real-life couple Matt & Kim (Boulevard Pool) are best known for a streaking-in-Times Square video for their 2009 single “Lessons Learned.” But their albums, including last year’s Lightning, are acclaimed, filtering Top 40 pop through DIY-punk arrangements and production. Matt & Kim make appealing music with raw and bleeding edges.

June 8: Roots rockers Grace Potter & the Nocturnals (Mandalay Bay Beach) will save your soul and blow your mind, thanks to Potter’s Joplin-esque pipes and an arsenal of gritty yet tuneful songs that inspire quasi-religious fervor in the listener. Their most recent album, The Lion The Beast The Beat, is a scorcher. Also that night, if you prefer something Caribbean-flavored, Reggae-rock band trio Pepper (Paradise Beach) will spice things up with their alt-rockin’ ska-revivalism. They’re an island-steeped update on The Police.

June 19: Big-eyed Hollywood actress Zooey Deschanel continues her fruitful and well-received collaboration with indie icon M. Ward for a tour that touches down in Las Vegas. She & Him (Boulevard Pool) are supporting a just-released third album. Appropriately titled Volume 3, the disc is tinged with retro-country, SoCal folk-rock and classic pop. Twee, but certainly terrific.

June 27: On an even calmer note, soft-rock six-string shredder Anthony James Baker bebops into Aliante Casino + Hotel in North Las Vegas. Note: All summer, Aliante hosts “Poolside Jazz Under the Stars” every last Thursday of the month. Most artists are on the smooth-jazz side—R&B guitarist Nils (May 30), Barbados-born saxman Elan Trotman (July 25) and the group Dotsero (Aug. 29).

June 28: The Jamaican-born dancehall-raging, Grammy-winning sons of Bob himself—Damien and Stephen Marley (Paradise Beach)—will get your body moving and your spirit moved. Once Damien hits you with “Welcome to Jamrock,” it’s all over but the groovin’. His brother Stephen is no slouch either, having won last year’s Grammy award for Best Reggae Album (Revelation Pt. 1: The Root of Life.) Yah mon!

July 4: Chillwave synth-popper Twin Shadow (Boulevard Pool), a.k.a. George Lewis Jr., casts an incredible ’80s-inspired, darkly romantic, roller rink-jamming pall over the contemporary musical landscape. If you want to experience aural fireworks—the kind that blends Thompson Twins and Psychedelic Furs with John Carpenter and Duran Duran, then this one’s for you.

July 19: Get your flannel-flying with The LP Tour, featuring all the great bands you used to play in the ’90s—Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Soul Asylum, the Wailers and Matthew Sweet (Mandalay Bay Beach). This is a “curated” event, with each act playing its best-known album, front to back. That means Sweet will be kicking out all the jams in Girlfriend, which is the Best Summertime Rock Album Ever.

July 25 and 27: The nearly back-to-back lineup of Brooklyn alt-rapper Theophilus London and power-pop geniuses Weezer (both at Boulevard Pool) already has me in a tizzy. London delivers rap-rock with a flashback-funk touch that knows no rivals. As for Weezer? C’mon, who doesn’t like to sip beer poolside with “Beverly Hills” blasting? I’ll tell you who: terrorists.

Aug. 1: Neo-psychedelic ensemble—or are they some kind of traveling hippie cult-commune of musicians? Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros (Boulevard Pool) will ruin your chlorine high with the scent of patchouli and songs that sound written by, well, some kind of traveling hippie cult-commune of musicians. Prepare to bask in their vast, cosmic clamor.

Aug. 8: Texas blues-rock singer-guitarist Gary Clark Jr. (Boulevard Pool) will barbecue your senses with his shattering voice and incendiary playing. He hasn’t been dubbed “the New Hendrix” for nothing: His shit will put hair on your chest, so bring Nair for when he launches into the fuzzed-out riff of “You Saved Me.”

Read more about the Vegas music scene.

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The Silenced Stage

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I’m tempted to write something horribly trite in my sadness—say, “the curtain falls on the life of Las Vegas’ premier theater critic.” My friend, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Anthony Del Valle, would dismiss that as sentimental tripe. I could do better, he’d tell me. Let’s say this: With Del Valle's death after a two-month illness on May 21, this city lost a vibrant journalistic voice and our local theater community lost its best friend, even when it thought he was its worst enemy.



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