Did Elvis Presley ever light a public Christmas tree in Las Vegas? Did the Rat Pack? I can’t find answers to these questions, but I can tell you Britney Spears will light a 30-footer on Nov. 21 at The Linq.
Am I equating Britney with Elvis and Frank? Yes and no. As much as I’m happy for her seemingly getting her stuff together with her dad’s help, I’m not the Britney juggernaut target demo.
So even though I ran into a big mountain man from TV at the airport who told me he teared up while seeing Britney’s show at Planet Hollywood last week, “Piece of Me” is not for me.
However, this tree-lighting ceremony (5 p.m. at The Linq Fountain stage) feels like the marking of time on a post from the current Vegas Strip No. 1 Face that’s been lording over us for two years (plus several contracted years to go) atop that centralized Planet Hollywood video billboard, reminiscent of the mute witnesses in “The Great Gatsby” and “1984.”
The reason Britney is not on course to becoming a Frank/Sammy/Elvis forever icon, however, is she’s almost never spotted away from her theater among we the dirty masses. Frank got in fights in casinos. Sammy was everywhere. On a smaller level, Holly Madison worked it on every red carpet from here to the moon.
Britney, popular but aloof like Cher, Mariah and stars of late, just bought a $7.4 million, 12,464-square-foot mansion in California, which is probably a responsible move for a mother of schoolkids.
So that’s why this tree-lighting thing bears the news element of being an unusual moment. It humanizes her more than her routine of charging fanatics the price of a used car to meet her backstage. And hopefully it will keep her from going all Howard Hughes on us and disappearing behind the drapes.
This might just be a promotional event, but hopefully it’s a new beginning of Britney mingling with us common people, without charging for it, and keeping a safe distance befitting someone who makes fans’ eyeballs spin like wheels of fortune.
LOUNGE AGAINST THE RAGE
For the first time in recorded memory, Las Vegas has a weekend coming where you can choose to see both A) Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, and B) someone from Rage Against the Machine.
In the history of rock, Rage came first, delivering classic hits such as “Killing in the Name” and “Bulls on Parade.”
Lounge was named after Rage, fronted by Richard Cheese (real name: Mark Jonathan Davis) who dons velvety jackets while crooning Frank/Sammy-style versions of pop, rock and hip-hop classics, from Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” to The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face.”
I love both Against the Machines. I saw Cheese and Lounge earlier this year again, and they were stellar, terrific, funny, the crowd left smiling.
Lounge plays two shows (9 and 11:30 p.m.) Friday at Sunset Station.
I still don’t understand why Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, based in Los Angeles, isn’t a regular Las Vegas show.
“We weren’t really able to do a residency for the longest time, because everyone in the band is in another band,” Cheese told me. “The other bands were busy so often, we couldn’t do a lot of shows. “
But now Cheese sees schedule openings, and, like a million musicians, he’s trying to book more shows in Vegas, but unlike a million people, Cheese deserves a residency.
“What we’d like to do is play every Friday night,” he said. “We’re talking to a couple of people right now about something like that, but it’s not set yet.”
Cheese, who is cheesy, told me the most talented person in pop music right now is Taylor Swift, and that’s why he and Lounge will be performing a new funny lounge arrangement of “Shake It Off.”
“I know that eventually she’s going to headline in Vegas, when she reaches that Britney saturation,” he said. “That’s when I’m hoping to marry her and live on her estate with all of her white tigers.”
What’s the appeal of Swift?
“That’s the funny thing. I like one or two of her songs. She’s definitely too young for me,” Cheese said. “But I bet she makes the best chocolate chip cookies. And, also, she’s rich, dude! She’s loaded! I’m not saying I would marry her for her money, I’m saying I would not divorce her because of her money.”
He’s hoping Britney Spears goes to see him perform:
“Her show starts at 8. She’s done at 8:12, right? It seems she could easily get in an Uber and head straight to my show.”
As for the Rage tie-in, Rage guitarist Tom Morello (as I wrote in my Tuesday column) will serve as a rock-music DJ at the Hard Rock Hotel’s new Center Bar at about 11 p.m. Saturday.
Morello enjoyed his first DJ gig there in October so much, he hung out with people at the bar afterward, so he’s hoping this second gig will help him decide to play the Hard Rock regularly (as DJ Comandante, paired with his music partner Carl Restivo).
Vegas now is less bittersweet than his first trip here, decades ago, when he was unknown and poor.
“This was a long time ago. My roommate and I headed to Vegas, and I had allocated $60 for my gambling budget,” Morello said.
“My roommate twisted my arm into putting our rent money on black, and it came up red, of course, and that cured me of ever wanting to gamble again,” he said, laughing. “It was a long, awful, awful month” after losing everything.
“You do the gambling, I’ll do the rocking.”
Doug Elfman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman. On Twitter: @VegasAnonymous.