Golden Nugget Rush Tower – Downtown Luxury

When I first started going to Vegas I was a bit enamored with the beautiful luxury properties that were available. This probably has to do with the fact that the average hotel room in my hometown of Boston is about $150 – and that is hardly top of the line. So I was very excited to find out that $150 in Vegas could get me entry level rooms at such places as the Palazzo and the Venetian (and at one point even the Wynn). Over time, as we ventured out and got to learn more about the city, we stopped staying on the Strip and  I slowly forgot about the ‘luxury’ rooms I used to love staying in.

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But I was pleasantly surprised when we decided to try out the ‘new’ Rush Tower at Golden Nugget. We had stayed in some of the older rooms, which I felt were nice but nothing to write home about. It was when we were offered a discounted rate based on our previous stay that we decided to do something different and try out one of the newer rooms (opened in 2009).

The first thing you notice when you enter the Rush Tower (which you can do from both the separate outdoor entrance or by going through the GN casino) is the 75,000 gallon tropical aquarium that appears behind the check in desk in the large, modern lobby. This technically belongs to a small restaurant/bar that I have not yet tried called Chart House but the overall effect on the first time visitor can be impressive. In fact, we took some first time visitors to see the lobby on our last trip and they stood there for 5 minutes gaping.

Golden_Nugget_Rush_Tower-sitting-areaThe rooms themselves remind me a lot of the entry level rooms at the Palazzo – though they cost quite a bit less and are a bit smaller. The furniture is modern, yet comfortable and decorated in soothing, earthy colors. A basic Rush Tower Deluxe room (pictured) includes a king-sized bed, a 42-inch tv, an iHome stereo and sectional couch. The bathroom includes two sinks and a large soaking tub, with a separate toilet room.

Golden_Nugget_Rush_Tower-bedIn addition to their own entrance and valet, guests can also enjoy some of the great Golden Nugget amenities – like the shark tank and pool. I am not even a fan of pools in general yet I love the pool at the Nugget. It has a great lounge area and an amazing slide that brings you down through their shark tank and into the pool. If you are ever in the Nugget you should go and check it out – security is usually willing to let people in for a quick look if you ask politely and they are not busy.

I would definitely recommend the Rush Tower to anyone looking for a little bit of luxury in downtown Las Vegas. I find it to be especially effective if you’re trying to convince someone who has only ever stayed on the Strip that downtown can be just as classy.

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Fremont Street Stage Shows: Rock Candy Sticky Sweet (and friends)

Rock Candy Sticky Sweet LogoRock Candy Sticky Sweet is a rock’n’roll stage production sponsored by the Fremont Street Experience. Their show consists of multiple vocalists, dancing girls (this must be a theme around here), a drummer and a single guitarist. They perform powerful, fun rock songs like “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, and “Nuthin’ But a Good Time”. It’s all very polished and it sounds great.

Each musician gets a chance to strut their stuff, with solos by each vocalist, the guitarist and the drummer. Each of the songs has choreographed dance moves – sometimes by just one or two performers, sometimes by the entire troupe. It’s clear that these are well seasoned performers, and it’s clear that they are having a good time while on stage. It makes for a show that’s fun to watch over and over. See what I mean?

And if you spend a few nights in front of their stage that’s exactly what you will do. The show repeats itself a bit, but that’s the nature of a stage production. It trades variety for consitency and quality. Luckily, I haven’t yet tired of “Rockin” Renee’s rendition of Pat Benetar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” or “Hit Man” Hunter’s pitch perfect performance of Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality”.

This solid group of performers is put together by Face Productions for the Fremont Street Experience. As far as I can tell, the show is exclusive to Fremont, and the troup of performers is employed (with some variations in cast) for a number of different shows on Fremont. Spend enough time at the stages downtown and it all starts to come together: Many of the performers you see as Rock Candy Sticky Sweet throughout the year are also in the Halloween shows “Frank and the Steins” and “Drac and the Vamps”. At Christmas, you’ll notice a couple familiar faces in “Candy and the Canes”. Each show is its own production, has different dancers and different songs are performed, but the basic lineup appears to be drawn from the same cast. Here’s “Frank and the Steins” performing this past October:

So, if you love these performers, but tire of seeing them play the same old songs, just check out one of their other incarnations. “Rock Candy Sticky Sweet” and “Frank and the Steins” are the most polished, have the most performers in common, and are my personal favorites, but all these shows are pretty amazing for the low low price of free. Here’s hoping that the Fremont Street Experience brings these talented performers back in 2013 with a few new tricks up their sleeves!

  • The Fremont Street shows are typically three hours long with three separate sets. Since these are stage productions that change little from night to night you can catch each hour of the show on a different night.
  • I could not find websites (or even Facebook pages) for Rock Candy Sticky Sweet, Frank and the Steins, Drac and the Vamps or Candy and the Canes to share with you, so watch for performances by them on the Fremont Street Experience Calendar, linked below.
  • If you know of other Face Productions shows that feature the same performers, or you know more of the backstory on these productions, please share in the comments.

Website: www.vegasexperience.com
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The Spazmatics (Las Vegas): Nerds Rock!

Spazmatics Logo (from FSE screen)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!

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Don’t Tell Mama: Where the Barkeep Will Blow You Away – On Stage!

Don't Tell Mama Las Vegas

Smack in the middle of Fremont East, at 517 Fremont Street, lies a dark door with a simple grey piano icon perched above it. While this makes it fairly obvious that inside the door lies a piano bar, it hardly prepares you for what’s inside.

Don’t Tell Mama is not your average piano bar. While the fun (but overdone) piano bar formula is to have two pianos, and two pianists dueling it out, there is only one piano here. Rather than have the pianists do all the singing, here patrons join in the action as well as the bar staff. Think of it as piano bar meets karaoke, but with better talent than karaoke typically draws. The action is on seven days a week, and if my visit on a Tuesday night is any indication, this place is a fantastic take any day of the week.

The highlight of my night at Don’t Tell Mama was a performance by Dre Whitt. Dre is one of the bartenders and also a crowd favorite performer. She has a strong stage presence, drawing in the crowd, getting everyone singing and clapping. During her rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, which included a medley of other “four chord” songs ranging from John Denver to Lady Gaga, she challenged the crowd to sing loud enough that the people across the street at “Insert Coins” would hear them. I’m pretty sure we did.

Recalling Dre’s performance is what lead me to call this section of the blog “Vegas Has Talent.” Luckily, I had the forethought to bring along a camera with some quality microphones, so you won’t have to take my word for it – check out an excerpt from her performance below.

Reasonably priced drinks and high caliber entertainment with no cover charge on a Tuesday night make this place one of the many reasons I love Las Vegas!

Tips:

  • Get there around 9-10pm and the party should already be swinging. (In fact, you might have trouble finding a seat.)
  • If you think you can sing (but you can’t) then don’t. There is no screen with words to hold your hand. Besides, with the talent that this bar draws – your out of tune, out of time, drunken crooning could be uncomfortably out of place.
  • The tip jar on the piano is for the pianist, many of the singers will accept tips on their person (and even if they say to tip the jugs – and some will, it’s not a strip club, so don’t get too fresh!)
  • Finally, if you don’t like the music, wait a few minutes, it’ll probably change. If the beer selection was as varied as the music, this could nearly be my favorite bar.

Don’t Tell Mama Las Vegas on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dont-Tell-Mama/177553105648460
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The Fremont Street Music Festival: Update/Correction

This is an update/correction to The Fremont Street Music Festival: It’s on every night!, which appeared on October 3rd. Please accept my apologies for the error.

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”.

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