Hot spots for regular folks

Every year around this time, the “Nightclub & Bar Awards” come to Vegas and honor places such as Pure and Tao like only people with expense accounts can. Those joints are cool, you know, if you’re an heiress or the kind of dude who likes to quote the movie “Wall Street” unironically. We, on the other hand, prefer to hang at spots where the brews come in a can and the decor is as about as inviting as a bullet wound. Isn’t it about time someone pays tribute to them? Well, that someone is us. Here are our 2011 “nightclub” awards:

Best Place to Pound Cheap Brews and Hail Satan: Lucky Lady. Underground metal shows are best in clubs that approximate one of three locales: a) a bombed-out, post-apocalyptic war zone b) a viking’s rec room or c) some dingy joint where the booze is served at 1980 prices and the room is as dark as the tunes. The Lucky Lady hits that last one right on the mark. Since late last summer, they’ve been hosting some pretty savage, sufficiently blasphemous metal bills, often booked by Vegas scene patron Lord Clovenhoof. Treat your liver like a goat and sacrifice the bad boy here.

Best Sports Bar That’s Not Really A Sports Bar: Meatheads. Pay no attention to the Detroit Lions paraphernalia that litters this place — and really, what else could you call anything affixed with a Lions’ logo other than litter? What makes this homey, ashtray-of-a-bar worth hangin’ at is the killer DIY shows they’ve been having here of late. We saw Cleveland bruisers Keelhaul go all Chernobyl on the place last November, and ragers like Cough have done the same. Detroit’s no joke — property values excepted — and neither is Meatheads.

Best Country Bar: Larry’s Hideaway. OK, so we know that when it comes to country bars in Vegas, Stoney’s is the 400-pound silver-backed alpha male gorilla of them all, but the difference between Larry’s and that joint is the difference between a face punchin’ cuss like David Allan Coe and a Walmart cowboy like Jason Aldean. Larry’s is the type of place that Waylon Jennings would have hung out at back in the day — he could of, too, as it’s been open since ’62 — and where a pretty boy like Keith Urban just might get his ass kicked. The beer is cheap and there’s line dancing if that’s your thing, but we mostly dig this smoky honky tonk because it’s as rugged and real as country music used to be.

Hall of Fame Inductee: Atomic Liquor Store and Bar. Some people go to Cirque shows for entertainment, but we’d rather watch a good, hair pullin’ prostitute fight while knocking back $1 cans of Busch. This is what made the Atomic so very necessary. The characters here were more colorful than all the neon just a few blocks down the road on Freemont Street. Too bad this rough and tumble joint shuttered its doors last month after more than 50 years in business. This place — like the sanity of so many of its patrons — will be missed.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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