Nerds: Coke-bottle glasses, crash helmets, suspenders, bow ties and all other manner of socially awkward. Rock: Sweet electric guitar riffs, bangin’ drums and righteous vocals. Mix them together and what have you got? Mix them together!?!
Mix them together and you get the Spazmatics. And the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Far greater. You don’t believe me? See for yourself:
That’s the Spazmatics schtick, and it works. They dress like nerds, they act like nerds, but they rock. I was dumbfounded the first time I saw them on stage. They cover a wide variety of music from the decade that brought us “Revenge of the Nerds”. For their revenge, these nerds crank out amazing renditions of everything from “Take on Me” by A-ha to “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol and draw cheering crowds beyond the wildest fantasies of actual nerds. Their repertoire is so vast and varied that it’s fun just wondering what they will do next. Sideways baseball cap? Maybe some Run D.M.C.? “Rusty” the guitarist stepping up to the mic? Could it be an AC/DC rock anthem?
Their show is polished, it’s campy, it’s unexpected (at least the first time), and it is highly amusing. In fact, they’re so entertaining that the original Spazmatics band has spawned numerous others around the country to keep up with the demand for their unique brand of geek-n-roll.
But which is the original? Will the real Spazmatics please stand up? Yes, on stages all over this fine city. The original S to the P to the A to the Z started in L.A., but Vegas is their home now. Catch them on Friday nights at Sunset Station (free), Saturday nights in the South Point Lounge ($5 general admission, $10 VIP) and throughout the year at the Fremont Street Experience (various days/times). Don’t be a Poindexter, get out and see a show!
If you’re going to South Point, go VIP. $10 VIP admission gets you into the short line, with two drink tickets and a reserved table and chairs. It’s well worth the $5 premium.
The shows on Fremont tend to be PG-13 (if the kids get the jokes it’s not the band’s fault), but their show at other venues can get a bit more risque. Leave the kids and the easily offended at home.
The various Spazmatics bands are managed by Perfect World Entertainment. If you’re not in Las Vegas there may still be one in your neighborhood. Check out their website and see.
The Spazmatics will be headlining NYE 2013 at the South Point Casino. Last year’s show was a sellout, so get your tickets early!
According to the latest press release, dated October 2nd, and schedule from the Fremont Street Experience, Alice and Ozzy’s Frightmare is not scheduled to appear this year. In its place they have added a new act called Drac and the Vamps, which promises to regale audiences with their favorite Halloween tunes. You can download the full October schedule from the Fremont Experience website. Click on the “Entertainment” tab, then click “Download Full Schedule”.
Every year in my hometown (Boston) the city puts on a series of free concerts. On average there are probably two such shows each week during the only months that the weather allows: June through September. The bands span the spectrum from cover and tribute bands to once popular performers stumbling their way through their once popular songs. These make for exciting times in Boston, and those shows often draw quite a crowd.
I imagine most ordinary cities around the country are like this, putting on a few free concerts in public spaces each year to entertain the community. Las Vegas, however, is no ordinary city. Las Vegas has talent! Oh, and Las Vegas also has casinos – the great sponsors of free entertainment – who do everything they can to get people in the door – or at least near it. Thanks to the casinos of “Old Vegas” we have the Fremont Street Experience.
Alice and Ozzy’s Frightmare
There are lots of great attractions at and around the Fremont Street Experience, and I’ll be sure to tell you more about them in future posts, but this post is about one of my favorites – the free concerts on Fremont.
There are three stages under the canopy of the Fremont Street Experience, at the intersections of Third, First and Main. Almost every night of the year there are bands playing at each one. In the summertime, when there are often two to three shows on each stage every night, Fremont Street has more free concerts in any given week than many cities have all year. If you love live music and you love free, then this is the place to be!
What kind of bands do they get? Well, the same sort of bands that you might see at free shows in other cities; cover bands, tribute bands, and some of the big names of yesteryear – except the bands Vegas gets are better. Headliners in recent years have included Three Dog Night, Jefferson Starship, Blue Oyster Cult, Night Ranger, Warrant, and Bret Michaels (of Poison) – just to name a few. The cover and tribute bands you can see for free almost any night on Fremont Street would cost $10-25 cover plus drinks in any other venue. The Doors tribute band Mojo Risin is a Fremont Street regular and is one of the best tribute bands I’ve seen anywhere.
Just in case you thought that these shows were static, they’re not. The Fremont Street Experience changes up the lineup of bands each month and the performers themselves will change it up throughout the season based on the events of the moment. Each year they organize around a different theme. This year is Rock of Vegas, focusing on the hair bands of the 80′s.
While most of the time the Fremont Street bands play rock n roll with a smattering of dance/pop, when the rodeo (or NASCAR) is in town the sound is predominantly country. Bike Week ups the ante on hard rock/southern rock and heavy metal, and then there’s October…
Frank and the Steins
The month of October brings band transformations like the pop/rock cover band Venus Rising which becomes “Zombie Rising” for this October – dressing both themselves and the stage in the trappings of Halloween. (Last October they were “Vampire Rising”.) Frank and the Steins come out every October as well, with classic horror dress and a repertoire of classic Halloween songs. There’s also a fantastic Ozzy Osbourne/Alice Cooper tribute band (Alice and Ozzy’s Frightmare) that they drag out every October, complete with makeup, props and theatrics. Oh, and dancing girls. It wouldn’t be Vegas without dancing girls. The same lead singer plays the part of both Ozzy and Alice (with costume changes), and having seen the real Ozzy and Alice perform, I’d say this guy has it down. Check it out for yourself: (recorded Oct 2010)
To give you an idea of the quality and variety of shows on any given night at the Fremont Street stages, I took my camera for a walk on a random Wednesday night. I caught performances from the aforementioned Venus Rising – a four piece band with a female lead singer with a bluesy sound and a flirty rock girl stage presence, Rok of Ages – a hard rock cover band with a male lead singer that really hams it up on stage (he reminds me a bit of David Lee Roth), and Rock Candy Sticky Sweet – a stage performance with dancers, multiple singers and a rocking drummer and guitarist. I promise to share more on them in an upcoming post. For now, enjoy this taste of a single night on Fremont: (recorded Aug 2012)
The Fremont Street Experience “OktoberFRIGHTfest” begins October 3rd (today), featuring Zombie Rising, Frank and the Steins and Alice and Ozzy’s Frightfest. Check the website below for show dates and times.
Crowds can get large for headlining bands. Expect 5000+ people at the stage. Get there early for a good view.
Pay attention to the people around you. Alcohol/Drugs + music sometimes = clumsy dancing or other dangerous behaviors. The security force generally keeps a close eye on things, but it’s always best to stay alert.
If you want to know the name of the band you’re watching, check the canopy overhead. The signs on the stage often list all of the bands playing for the month, but the canopy will have a rotating image with the name of the current performer.
Shows start around 8pm most nights and run until 1 or 2am. If you like Jazz, catch Carl Ferris and his Sax most nights starting at 7 between the First and Third Street stages.