Las Vegas -- Bleeding Ears and Tired Legs

GBV (stolen from Pitchfork)
When I heard that Matador Records was having a 21st birthday bash at The Palms in Las Vegas with some of my favorite bands from the 90s all sharing a big, lo-fi, indie-rock stage together, I emailed a couple of friends, thinking there was no way they would actually commit to this multi-day event. We all have jobs now, are much more responsible, with kids, and bellies and receding hairlines. One sentence in the email, what do we have to do to make this happen? They both got back to me that day saying they were in. An ulterior motive for this trip was to get to run some of the trails in Red Rock Canyon, and since I have regularly scheduled workouts now, I was going to force myself to stick to my plan and get up and run in the mornings, and in Vegas-time, morning is a loose term for the hours between sunrise and 3 PM, when most of the other concert-goers were waking up.

Things not to do before running Red Rock Canyon in 100 degree heat

  • Get to Vegas and head straight for The Palms pool and drink a couple of celebratory beers
  • Eat at Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs for lunch
  • Go to the VIP open-bar party at the Hardwood Suite and shoot hoops while drinking a few more free beers
  • Eat at the Steakhouse where a small portion is the 20 ounce steak, pass on that and order the filet and lobster and mix in some fatty creamy lobster mashed potato goodness and dust off a bottle of wine
  • Hit the show at about 10 PM, stay until the last band finishes their set at 1 AM
  • Roll into bed as your friend explains where in the maze of Las Vegas hotel parking lots he parked his car, the one that you are going to borrow at 7 AM tomorrow, when the rest of the Las Vegas world is asleep or still awake from the previous night, and you only remember something about a Subaru on the ground floor

Waking up in the morning I found a Subaru on the ground floor of the parking lot, a grey Subaru with an Obama bumper sticker, which would make sense because my friend is left of Mao, and some nice Yakima roofracks on top, which wouldn't make sense because my friend doesn't ride. I tried the key and it didn't work, the unlock buttons didn't work either, so I tried the door and the passenger side was open.  I got in and started to rummage around the inside to make sure it was my friend's Subaru. I found a bunch of stuff from Santa Monica and my friend lives in Fresno, so I figured it wasn't his, plus the key didn't work. So I called him and he said it was parked in E1, which was where I was, in the East garage, which was where I wasn't. So I went to E1 in the East garage and found the cream (not silver) colored Subaru. This time the key worked, but somehow I triggered the alarm and couldn't get it to turn off. Finally, after holding down all the keychain buttons, it finally stopped wailing. I am very disappointed in Las Vegas security, who, if they were paying attention to their video monitors, would have seen a guy in short shorts carrying a hydration pack and wearing funny-looking red shoes and a white hat who was obviously trying to steal a Subaru and sell it on the very lucrative Boulder, CO Subaru blackmarket.

The drive through Vegas in the morning was a headachy blur and as the city dead-ended and the Mojave Desert began, I grabbed a trail map and hit the Grand Circle Loop in Red Rock Canyon. It turned out to be a great run, tough, hot and hilly, but a lot of fun. I drove through Red Rock Canyon with the three kids, the wife and my sister/babysitter in the car last year and they weren't really appreciating the majesty of those red sand cliffs that rise out of the desert heat, so I opened all the windows and found the rarely listened-to Sirius opera channel and I cranked that shit as we drove the loop, drowning out the complaints and the fighting with the majesty of opera and red rocks. It was a different experience this time, running through the desert trails with a faint glimmer of daytime Vegas in the distance, it was nice to clear my ears out and breathe notcasino air.





The rest of the weekend went by in a sonic blur, but I did take advantage of the gym and the indoor/outdoor whirlpool that overlooked the hedonistic playground that is the pool at The Palms and remembered the $5 smoke- and sweat-filled shows that left ears ringing and sinuses black, those days when I smoked all day and would have slept in and laughed at the suggestion of a morning run in the desert. The good ole days weren't that bad.

The highlight of the show was the original line-up of Guided By Voices and their 2 1/2 hour set that started at midnight. Watching elementary school teacher turned indie rock god Robert Pollard jump, kick, drink and smoke through 2 1/2 hours of straight up rock and roll was amazing. Do your ears a favor and check them out, they may not be with us for much longer.

Guided by Voices

The $25,000/night Hardwood Suite

Soaking the legs post-run at the pool

Pavement's last show

Ratings and Recommendations