Two big music festivals are going head to head.
Local beer suppliers.
The rockabilly-heavy Viva Las Vegas and the hard rock- and metal-centric Las Rageous festivals square off this weekend. It’s a good thing for local music fans, even better for those who have mastered the fine art of being in two places at once.
With Viva overtaking The Orleans with Duane Eddy, Carl Mann, Roddy Jackson and scads more and Las Rageous consuming the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center with Five Finger Death Punch, Clutch and A Day to Remember, among others, let’s take a look at how the fests stack up:
The big gets
For the first time in 10 years, the Stray Cats will “Rock This Town” thanks to Viva Las Vegas. In perhaps the fest’s biggest booking yet, it has scored the return of one of rockabilly’s signature crossover acts. Yes, this is the band whose frontman, Brian Setzer, introduced the pompa-mullet to the masses three decades ago. That alone should earn your fealty and adoration.
As for Las Rageous, its biggest score is ruminative alt-rock outfit A Perfect Circle, which will be playing its first show after Friday’s release of “Eat the Elephant,” the band’s first studio album in 15 years. While APC played a three-night stand at the Palms last April, the band premiered just one new song, “Feathers,” during its stint here. Las Rage-ers will be among the first to hear the band dig into the album in earnest on stage. Expect moodiness in place of mosh pits: An equally gorgeous and grim record, “Elephant” is posited on understatement and elegance more than aplomb and concussiveness.
He may or may not have set his piano on fire during a concert in New York once upon a time, but there’s no denying that Jerry Lee Lewis ignited something far more lasting: the passions of generations of future rockers. At 82 years old, Lewis is still at it, and while every year Viva Las Vegas books a number of pioneering musicians, few living rock and rollers can rival Lewis’ influence. We’ll see if “The Killer” can still knock ’em dead.
While the focus at Las Rageous is on more contemporary acts, the lineup does boast genre giants Judas Priest. Where would metal be without Priest? Not only did frontman Rob Halford give metal its none-more-leather look and the band perfect the twin guitar attack, but nearly 50 years in, they’re still putting out killer records. Also, do you want to explain to your grandkids some day why you missed the opportunity to see a 66-year-old ride a Harley on stage for his band’s encore? Think about your family for once.
Women in charge
The belle of the brawl, the diva of the damned, the “Sex Metal Barbie” is back in town. Maria Brink, frontwoman for hard rockers In This Moment, has earned all those self-applied appellations by turning the tables on the haters. “I’m no damsel in distress,” she explains on “Bloody Creature Poster Girl.” “The only thing I’m needing / Is for you to be bleeding.” In This Moment is one of two female-fronted acts playing Las Rageous, the other being New Years Day, whose singer Ash Costello, is all about the fake blood and real chutzpah.
Across town, few fests celebrate female badasses like Viva Las Vegas, where you’ll always spot numerous Rosie the Riveter look-alikes in the crowd and plenty of take-charge types on stage. A few not to be missed this go-round: the gasoline-guzzlin’ Little Lesley and The Bloodshots, Sweden’s predictably raucous Lily Locksmith, virtuoso guitarist Amy Griffin, “Backwoods Girl” Ambur Rockell and a certain act from Vegas …
Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist digs ’em, and so do the rockabilly hordes: the “Little Steven’s Underground Garage”-endorsed Shanda and the Howlers will be reppin’ their hometown at Viva Las Vegas again. Citymates the Delta Bombers will also be in the house, droppin’ payloads of ’50s-style rock and roll.
At Las Rageous, a pair of hard-hitting, harder-touring Vegas acts will be on hand: Otherwise and Adelitas Way, both of whom favor an equally melodic and muscular songbook.
Local up-and-comers Silence Speaks also made the cut.
Contact Jason Bracelin at email@example.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.