Vegas Seven

Arts & Entertainment

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best New Venue

    From the soulful reggae-blues pop of Maui-born Anuhea, to the heavy Louisiana-boiled Cajun rock of Lost Bayou Ramblers, to the punky-Motown frenzy of Chantal Claret, Vinyl has hosted a diverse array of artists and bands in the year since it’s been open. The sound there is great, the dark-wood bar (with its attractive ’tenders) is fun to belly-up to and we love watching people exiting a butt-rock residency show at the adjacent Joint only to discover there’s something even cooler happening in this little venue in the Hard Rock Hotel.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Broadway Production

    Who knew it was possible to create an ’80s-themed show that’s even kitschier than the decade itself? Yet the Venetian’s Rock of Ages is up to the mock-tastic challenge with a crazy-fun riff on the mullet-and-hair-band goofiness of Reagan-era America. With hilarious snark to spare—and with way more verve than the limp movie version—Rock takes a tongue-in-cheek boy/rocker-wannabe-meets-girl/actress-wannabe story on the Sunset Strip and immerses it in a merry hard-rock set list from the likes of Poison, Styx and Journey. Quite simply: Rock rocks.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Outdoor Gallery

    Don’t call it graffiti; don’t call it guerilla art. The murals that line the alleys of the 18b Arts District—stretching from Imperial all the way up Casino Center to a cluster of bungalows near Hoover—amount to nothing less than an outdoor art gallery. Its curator, Ras One—the fifth-generation Nevadan behind POP2 in the Arts Factory—has managed to recruit street artists from all over the world to create an “ever-changing, ever-evolving” gallery of murals funded wholly out of pocket—his own, and those of his collaborators.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Hair Metal Comeback

    The Rat Pack at the Desert Inn gave way to Elvis at the International who gave way to Celine at Caesars who gave way to … Mötley Crüe at The Joint in the Hard Rock? OK, so one of these things definitely is not like the others—which is pretty much how the Crüe and The Joint prefer to roll: outcasts marching to the beat of their own double-bass drum. So it was a no-brainer that the Hard Rock decided to hire Nikki Sixx and Co. for Las Vegas’ first rock ’n’ roll residency back in February 2012.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Art Show

    David Sanchez Burr’s Beyond Sunrise Mountain at Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery earlier this year was a thought-provoking autobiographical multimedia installation. At the show’s reception, a flamenco dancer tangoed while a guitarist plucked nylon-stringed chords, a nod to Burr’s Spanish roots. The artist himself strummed electric guitar—feedback emanating from speaker-housing sculptures of imploded Strip hotels. Black balloons, helium-sapped, fell. Billboards caked with red mud, dried and flaked off.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Actor

    Good-ness, gra-cious, great balls of acting fire! Swallowing the scenery, belching, then swallowing some more, Martin Kaye jumps into the heart, soul and skin of rock trailblazer Jerry Lee Lewis in the resident production of Million Dollar Quartet at Harrah’s. The Brit-born, live-wire actor with the mop of blond curls pounds the 88s, leaps atop the piano and tosses off one-liners with smart-bomb precision, detonating across the stage.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Vegas Movie Moment

    Much funnier than the horrid Hangover Part III, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone satirizes the out-of-control-for-far-too-long egos of the Strip’s headlining magicians. While he’s almost outshined by Jim Carrey’s sado-masochistic Criss Angel caricature, Steve Carell’s falling-star protagonist unveils a neat feat. He manages to potshoot David Copperfield by having groupies sign consent forms even as he invites these ladies to witness the Biggest Bed in All of Las Vegas: “Would you like to see it?” he says.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Standup Act

    Any year where Don Rickles plays at The Orleans makes it hard for any other act to get in consideration as the best stand-up in the city, but a one-off at the Palms was stunning for the quality of comedy as well as the unlikely source.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Nevada Author

    In 1872, Mark Twain published Roughing It, a memoir of his travels through the Wild West, including the Nevada Territory. More than 140 years later, we finally get an update on the still (mostly) untamed land and its people. The 10 short stories in Battleborn (Riverhead, $26)—the debut collection by Pahrump-raised author Claire Vaye Watkins—give dimension to characters that the rest of the world sees only as stereotypes, if it sees them at all. In turn, the world has taken notice.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Strip Headliner

    While we’re tempted to divide this category into three headliners—i.e., Coco Austin and her enormous twin assets—we’ll count them all as one big, sexy, high-wattage headliner. Injecting renewed vigor into the erotic production spectacle Peepshow as Bo Peep after the departure of Holly Madison, the Ice Loves Coco reality-show star proves she’s more than just her mammaries, but a genuine presence onstage.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Free Show

    His talent is bigger than the small venues that contain him, which is a win for music fans on a budget. Franky Perez, the barrel-voiced singer-songwriter-guitarist and Las Vegas native has just begun two free residencies, at Quinn’s Irish Pub at Green Valley Ranch and at Jacks at Palace Station (9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, respectively). If you’ve never heard of him, blame past substance-abuse issues, which slowed his career but, in retrospect, have given his musicianship extra depth.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Vegas Reality-Show Star

    Pawn Stars is the reality show gift that keeps on giving, begetting Counting Cars and creating an, ahem, vehicle for its star, Danny Koker. Koker, the gravel-voiced, easygoing mechanic who runs the shop, had a ratings hit right off the rip, premiering to 4.3 million as the History Channel’s highest-rated debut. The show just wrapped a second season and is already filming its third, propelled as much by Koker’s relentless, infectious positivity as it is by the sweet whips that come out of his garage.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Residency

    The old saw about Vegas residencies is that it’s where past-their-prime performers go to die. Not so with Soul2Soul, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s 20-show series at the Venetian. This superstar married couple is still at the top of their game: McGraw’s latest album, Two Lanes of Freedom, came out in February, and he’s touring in support of it. Hill has a new music video and single out, “American Heart.” Moreover, they join Garth Brooks and Shania Twain in a line of country stars taking over the Strip.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best Reality-TV Implosion

    Even by the reality-show standards of cable’s TLC—the channel that brought us Here Comes Honey Boo Boo—the high-speed train wreck called Sin City Rules was breathtakingly awful. Debuting in December and gone by New Year’s Day, Rules followed the lives of five Vegas women: clothing designer Lana Fuchs, poker star Jennifer Harman, cosmetics line owner Lori Montoya, Amy Hanley (late mob hit man Tom Hanley’s kid, who was reportedly missing, but not really, in a bizarre kerfuffle) and entertainment reporter/gadfly Alicia Jacobs.

  • Arts & Entertainment

    Best New Music Venue

    Big, but cozy. Formal, but informal. Neat trick, which The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz room pulls off with aplomb. Featuring a two-tiered layout—main floor and mezzanine—the room is both a mini-concert hall and intimate jazz club, its elegant décor giving off a warm, inviting vibe. With top-notch acoustics benefiting first-rate talent (among them Barbara Cook, Branford Marsalis, Al Jarreau and monthly staple Clint Holmes), it gives Las Vegas what it’s missed since the Blue Note’s closure.

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