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Sounds: Top Ten in 2010

More is always more in Las Vegas, where too much is never enough, right?

This was especially true when it came to some of the better music offerings in 2010 with an abundance of must-see multiband festivals including the continued development of the twice-a-year Neon Reverb marathon, the star-studded Matador at 21 Weekend, a much-expanded version of the annual Punk Rock Bowling booze-a-thon and the debut of the hard rockin’ Doom in June fest.

Still, there were some smaller pleasures among the best concerts of the past 12 months:

1. Roger Waters — Performing “The Wall” in its entirety at the MGM Grand Garden arena in November, Waters tethered larger-than-life arena rock conceits — three-story puppets, miniature aircraft flying above the crowd, battle zone-levels of things going boom! — to real-life concerns, such as the loss of loved ones in war, creating something rare: an over-the-top spectacle with true emotional resonance. It all climaxed with Waters bringing down the titular wall — and the packed house right along with it.

2. Neon Reverb — Too many highlights to mention over the course of two multiday installments in March and September of this great, growing downtown-centered music festival — OK, we’ll name a few, such as the spine-numbing guitar buzz of the Crocodiles, the badass bluegrass of Merle Jagger, the earthy, hair flingin’ jams of Leopold and his Fiction (again), the indie hip-hop boundary pushing of Sole, etc. The only drag? Not being able to be in five places at once.

3. Matador at 21 Weekend — Day One — Pavement alternately seduced and destroyed with tunes that broke hearts and guitar strings in equal measure, Sonic Youth touched down in a funnel cloud of glorious six-string caterwaul and the burly dude from the mighty F!@#ed Up smashed lots of stuff into his forehead at The Pearl at the Palms in October. Amazing.

4. Punk Rock Bowling — Day One — NOFX sneered through a tutorial in ’tude, Hot Water Music boiled over like their namesake with impassioned jams where the term “emo” could no longer be used as a synonym for “sissy” and the burly dude from the mighty F!@#ed Up smashed lots of stuff into his forehead at the Sunset Station Amphitheater in May. Amazing.

5. Doom In June — Guitars slobbered like a pound full of Pavlovian pooches with the likes of Radio Moscow, Fireball Ministry and Black Cobra, among many others, turning the Cheyenne Saloon into a buffet of riffs in June.

6. Muse — It was like the scene from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” when the mothership touched down — but with Godzilla-size guitars, dude — such was the explosion of light and sound when these Brits A-bombed eyes and ears at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in April.

7. Enslaved ­— Equally majestic and menacing, these shaggy, occasionally shirtless Norwegians brightened black metal’s monochromatic misanthropy with simultaneously proggy and pissed off bombast at the House of Blues in November.

8. The Avett Brothers — A dude has never throttled a banjo harder than Scott Avett did at the Silverton in September, where the man attacked the instrument like he had caught it burglarizing his house. Folk rock seldom actually, you know, rocks. The Brothers remedied that. If it ain’t broke, this bunch will break it.

9. Norah Jones — This was the best country show of the year, at The Pearl in August, where Jones warmed the blood of Hank Williams and Willie Nelson chestnuts with her smolderin’ ember of a voice.

10. St. Vitus — When these doom rock granddaddies steamrolled through “Clear Windowpane” at Wasted Space at the Hard Rock in June, the brick-heavy ode to hallucinogenic experiences could have doubled as one itself, such was the synapse smokin’ power of guitar great Dave Chandler’s resin-coated riffs.

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

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